I’m inquisitive but I’m not desperate

cavemanI’m wondering when the tide is going to turn on the matter of requiring users to fill in lengthy forms in order to download a software demo, an e-book, a white paper or in some cases even a brochure.

You’ve gone to all the trouble of getting someone to your site – whether that’s by SEO, an advert or just random luck. You promise a download, often with just a click. Then you start asking for my inside leg measurement.

When I see a form like this, I immediately wonder: ‘Do I get what I asked for immediately? Are my details vetted before I get it? Are my details getting added to a mailing list?’

When are site owners (or their retarded designers/developers/consultants who say ‘and we can gather names by getting people to register for this’) going to get it? What’s important to you, getting your information/product/idea into people’s hands, hearts and minds,¬†or building a list that is ultimately worthless junk? Are you that worried about counting the number of downloads and think the only way to do it is to require someone’s details? And once you’ve given someone access to it, who is to say they won’t spread it round ‘virally’ anyway? Or do you wish you could stop that too?

I’m reserving a place in a particularly nasty circle of hell for cheese-ball ‘internet marketers’ that plaster ‘download my free internet marketing e-book’ links all over their ugly web pages. That’s not marketing, it’s a pitiful attempt to build a list that you can pimp whatever MLM scheme you’re getting affiliate commission for this week and you are no more marketers than a barrow-boy at a street market is.

For a great insight into this, read Chris Guillebeau’s piece on Why People Hate Marketers.

Still need convincing? David Meerman Scott makes it abundantly clear in his free pdf e-book Lose Control of your Marketing, (that you can download without filling in a registration form): “You need to think in terms of spreading ideas, not generating leads”, a one line summary of this post about business to business e-books.

Now I know this stuff is new, that you might face resistance to free up the access to your downloads – your CEO wants hot sales leads and names on a mailing list. OK, how about you have a ‘sign up to get it’ link and a straight ‘I don’t want to sign up but I still want it’ link. What this means is you’re going to get proper sales leads, not Mickey Mouse and Bob McBob (my default) and you’re also going to reach the huge percentage that simply won’t fill in forms. If Apple can learn that they don’t need the email address of everyone who downloads QuickTime or Safari, then you can get over your dependency on list-building and start sharing properly. You’ll be amazed at the difference.

Till then, yours,
Bob McBob

p.s. If you’re one of the good guys, comment here and share your experience of how opening the gates worked for you.

Photo credit: Beautification Syndrome

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