Tempted to Do Away With Registration Forms? Think Again.

A client asks: “Now that we have our marketing automation system in place, is it really necessary to use registration forms in our lead nurturing (follow-up) campaigns? After all, we already know who these people are, correct? If we offer them direct access to the content assets, we can still track their click-throughs and then trigger sales alerts or assign lead scores based on that action, and we won’t be forcing them to fill in a registration form. Can we do without?”

My response:

I strongly believe offering direct links to resources without landing pages is a bad idea, especially because you can easily present pre-populated landing pages that demand very little of the reader. In addition:

1. Offering up pre-populated landing pages gives contacts the opportunity to update outdated or incorrect information, serving to maintain and improve the quality of your CRM data.

2. If the email gets forwarded to a colleague, influencer, or decision-maker, you’ll miss the opportunity to capture that new person’s contact information.

3. Without a registration form, you’ll be unable to implement progressive profiling – i.e. asking additional qualifying questions of prospects based on what you already know or predicated on past behavior.

4. A click-through is not the same as someone submitting a registration form (even one that is pre-populated). A click-through can be instinctive, a whim, idle curiosity, even an accident, and it does not demonstrate either interest or intent in the same way that an actual registration does. If you track clicks and not registrations, you’ll be measuring response, generating sales alerts, and assigning lead scores based on an action that is, in my view, less than an actual response.

5 thoughts on “Tempted to Do Away With Registration Forms? Think Again.

  1. J Bernard

    The kind of information you ask a content consumer to provide should take into account the type of content you are offering and the audience. For example, a white paper about how technology can address a particular industry problem is something that educates potential prospects at the very early stage of the sales process. These types of content consumers are not ready to give up lots of information (and be contacted by a sales person), and you risk missing the opportunity to educate a larger early-stage audience. Simply asking for an email address to which you can deliver the white paper is all you need at this point. With their email address, you can offer additional content (with their permission) and gather a little more information each time they make an inquiry. There will be a point at which you’ll want more direct contact, and you will have gathered some good information by then.

  2. Howard Sewell

    J,

    Thanks for the comment and I agree 100%. Companies should make the initial price of entry low (i.e. require very little information) and then plan to elicit more information from the prospect over time. Great point.

  3. Jeff Ogden

    Great post, Howard, and you make a terrific point. On one hand, information wants to be free, but marketers need to grow their database so they can nurture prospects. How do you find the right balance?

    Use pre-populated forms. This makes it easy for the visitor and enables the marketer to collect the information needed. And progressive profiling helps you collect information over time.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Jeff

  4. Yves Matson

    For email campaigns we push click throughs to a non-gated landing page, but crucially we can track who downloads the takeaway, so that we can qualify who we follow up with.

    Thanks
    Yves

  5. Aaron

    I believe the concept of relying on the form needs a radical re-think. Assuming you can track the other variables, gating access feels so 2008! We still do it, but are starting to test our way out of it.

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