Firstly, I hate the term “white paper”.

Secondly, I hate the idea of locking up a fancy pdf document behind a firewall, and then making the visitor provide tons of information to access that fancy pdf.

Thirdly, please don’t make your visitors fill up a form like this – ever! (Yes, this is for a webcast and not for a white paper, but you get the point)

Why should I tell you all that to read your paper?
Why should I tell you all that to read your paper?

Here is why this is a bad idea –

  1. I don’t have the patience to fill out all that information you are asking for. I am most likely to give up after three fields and walk away from your webpage.
  2. I know you are doing it to get my email address and contact information so that your sales people can call me / email me. But I get so much spam everyday that I am most likely to delete your email anyway. Or better, I have a separate email account to use for purposes like this. So forcing me to give you my email id is not beneficial to you in anyway.
  3. If you really have something valuable to say (and don’t want to charge dollars), then you are much better off writing a blog article about it. With a blog article – the google spider will find you, I can quote you and link to your article, and you will overall generate much more traffic than having a fancy pdf behind the firewall.
  4. Also, provide me with a simple “voluntary email signup” form in case I really like what you have to say and I am really interested in hearing more about you. That way, you will get a quality list of addresses to follow up with.

Marcom Ink blog discusses the case of who increased their clickthrough rates by 1600% just by setting the content free: no registration forms. All they did was to highlight in their marketing emails that no registration is required to download content from their website.

So next time you have something interesting to say, just blog about it. Or publish an html on your website with free access without an idiotic sign up form. Also have an easy email signup box where people who are really interested can sign up for more information.

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