It seems to be the norm these days; valuable content on a website is hidden behind a form – in the hope that getting potential customers to leave their contact details – which can then be handed over to sales as leads.
There are good reasons for doing so, of course. For most marketing automation software solutions, getting the contact details of your website visitors is the way they get the leads into their funnel. But this tactic could also be costing you leads and potentially customers – and unless you are a big established brand – with an enormous daily website traffic – and you can afford to turn away customers, are you sure that it is not better to remove the barrier (that the form really is) and let your content be downloaded and read by as many potential customers as possible?
Setting up a form on your website is asking for a trade. Your content for contact details. The problem is, that your content needs to be really, really good – for people wanting to make that trade.
The fact is, that 90% of your website visitors will never fill out a form.
This is 90% of your potential customers who never gets to see your carefully prepared content – which could have made them more favorable towards you.
90% who could now be looking through your competitors websites looking for the information that you wouldn’t give to them.
Wouldn’t it have been better to keep those potential customers on your website – even if you didn’t collect their email addresses?
Marketing software tries to make it easier for visitors to fill in these forms – for instance by using progressive profiling, where the information you need is collected over time, so that the visitor only have to surrender a little information about him/herself each time they download content or visit your site. The rationale behind this is that the more fields in a form, the fewer will fill it out.
But we all know what will happen when we surrender our email address – and that is why most people are so reluctant to do just that.
The customer journey
Today, people prefer to find information themselves rather than talk to a sales person. This is bad news for those focusing on solution selling and bad news for those relying on forms to collect leads.
70% of the customer journey is now done by the customer him/herself before he/she reaches out to a potential supplier.
Don’t you then want to give the potential customers as much content as possible – and steer him/her towards you through carefully drafted content – rather than sending him/her away?
“But that is exactly why I need the contact details” – is the usual counter argument. Sales need to be involved in the sales process as early as possible in order to become a trusted advisor and to steer the customer through a sale.
And while I completely agree with that; the sooner sales get involved, the better, I don’t agree that this can only be done through setting up barriers for your potential customers.
There are a number of other ways of getting the information you need.
First of all, it is a case of making your content so compelling that the prospect wants to interact with you. Add value first. Use your content to demonstrate your authority – become the logical advisor and partner, so that you are the first point of contact for anyone looking for suppliers.
Secondly – use software that identifies what companies visits your website. This can be done without setting up barriers or limiting your content. Most BtB visitors of a certain size can be auto-identified the second they visit your website. The downside – of course – is that they only identify the company, not the person or the contact details. But by looking at which (product) pages the visitor shows the most interest in – it should be fairly obvious what role the person has within the company – and then it is just a question of picking up the phone – or checking LinkedIn to make a qualified guess as to who to reach out to.
It does require more than just setting up a form on your website. The content needs to be the best it can be, and there is some work involved in identifying who finds it interesting. On the other hand, you get your content read and spread a lot more – which in turn should lead to a lot more interest in your solutions.
This is the whole point of content marketing.
Make great content and spread it. Spend as much – if not more time and money on spreading it, as you did creating it – don’t limit distribution and don’t put up barriers. Get your word out. All of it – not just tidbits and teasers. The more people read about you, the better position you will be in when it comes to selling to them.
My point is that most companies are better of providing quality content and making it available to everyone and on all platforms – rather than limiting access in the hope of generating leads.
What do you do? Do you spread or limit your valuable content? Let us know in the comments below.