Friday, 16 January 2009

David Meerman Scott's new ebook made me angry - please read it too!


If you don't know of David Meerman Scott, you should change that. He wrote "the New Rules of Marketing and PR" which is a great read, full of challenging thinking. As a pre-cursor to his new book "World Wide Rave" he's just published a free and easily digestible ebook called "Lose Control of your Marketing! Why marketing ROI measures lead to failure"

You should read the ebook - it's got some really great ideas. However reading it made me cross. His suggestion is simple:

Make your information on the Web totally free for people to access, with absolutely no virtual strings attached: no electronic gates, no registration requirements, and no email address checking necessary.

Meerman Scotts assertion is that marketing's role is to spread ideas, and that putting ANY barrier in the way of that simply reduces the number of people that experience your content. Amongst other things he asserts that you should not put web contact forms (name, email capture) onto websites.

While applying these forms of measurement might be appropriate offline, using them to track your success on the Web just isn’t relevant; they don’t capture the way ideas travel. Worse,the very act of tracking leads hampers the spread of ideas. People know from experience that if they supply their personal information to an organization, they’re likely to receive unwanted phone calls from salespeople or to find themselves on email marketing lists. Most won’t bother. In fact, I have evidence from several companies that have offered information both with and without a registration requirement that when you eliminate the requirement of supplying personal information, the number of downloads or views goes up by as much as a factor of fifty.

I hope he's wrong. Many of us have been schooled in the principles of "if you can't measure it, don't do it". We are increasing our efforts to capture names of people who engage with our content so that we can continue to engage with them. This approach flies in the face of that: if we give away something of genuine value with no barriers, people will share it with each other and ultimately connect with us.

What really makes me angry is that I think he may be right.

What's your thoughts?




5 comments:

charliecroc said...

Pete

I guess it's logical to assume that while prospects are in a broad 'research' mode, they are mostly self directed and dont need any 'help', and happy to remain anonymous. As they pick a few solutions/providers to focus on they become more interested in being known. Prospects may stay anonymous anyway with 'decoy' email addresses, but i suspect the broader issue is not the registration hurdle but the motivation to click and engage. Brands with a proven track record of sharing useful content e.g. not a sales pitch, will most likely engage their audience with or without registration.
Charlie Blackburn, BrightTALK

Leigh Anne Wallace said...

I can completely understand Scott's point of view for what he is trying to sell, himself/books. He is trying to make himself a thought leader. By offering his eBooks for free he entices readers to go out and purchase his printed books.

However, as a B2B marketer, I want to know who is downloading my content. Our blog is a source of free content that was created with the intent of providing thought leadership. But our whitepapers and eBooks will most likely always stay behind a form. I want to be able to capture new leads and nurture them as they move though the funnel. How can I do that if I don't know who they are?

Leigh Anne Wallace, ReachForce

Steven Woods said...

Pete,
I would agree with Leigh Anne that it isn't as black and white as "all information should be free, always". In the business of marketing, you need to connect with your prospects and at some points guide them along the buying process. They are in control, and they will only respond if you are not intrusive, but that doesn't mean never ask for information.

It's all about equitable exchange of value - I blogged about it here http://digitalbodylanguage.blogspot.com/2008/12/what-i-learned-in-kindergarten-about.html for more detail, but essentially you need to offer enough information to establish yourself as a credible source and a thought leader, but at the same time, you don't have to always give information for free.

Thanks for the post, it's a great topic for discussion.

Pete Jakob said...

Thanks for the comments here. It's an interesting area. From a prospects' perspective you would probably rather that no-one asked for contact information - "when I want to speak to you, I'll call you". However as marketers we crave names so that we can develop relationships.

As Steve commented, it's really about value exchange. If you're looking for names to add to your mailing list, then you're in trouble. If you're wanting some information so that you can provide more tailored and higher value content, then it feels like a fair swap.

Chad H said...

I would like to add that not all landing pages are the same. Those that reduce friction and make it easy to initially engage with the company should have higher conversion rates. One strategy is to collect more information over time so it's not overwhelming to the web visitor.

In addition, placing a gate in front of a valuable piece of content is part of the lead qualification process. If someone is really interested in your products/services and the value exchange seems right, they will want to provide their information. As I mentioned above, the key is making the process as easy as possible - especially for visitors that have previously submitted their information.