thefutureofregistrationforms
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The Future of Registration Forms

By Bob Johnson, VP & Principal Analyst 

To access some types of digital content individuals are asked to provide contact information. These registration forms sometimes expand in lead generation or nurturing efforts to include custom questions. Those questions usually revolve around available budget, decision authority and/or timing. As content marketing becomes more sophisticated it is time we rethink the role of a registration form from information the seller wants to also speed up the ability of someone to get the information they need.

Currently some users see  registration forms as a gate that prevent them from reaching the content they need. IDG Connect research shows that the content types that have the greatest positive impact on the willingness to provide personal information on a registration form are evaluations/trial versions, user interviews/case studies and research reports.  The source of the information also matters as the likelihood of engagement is increased if the gated content is authored by an independent authority or by users themselves.

When it comes to interactive content buyers favor value calculators, personalized demonstrations and competitive offering comparison worksheets.  But here you must be careful.  Almost nine out of ten buyers who face content gating state that if the value of what is being gated is not clear and accurate it affects the likelihood that they ultimately purchase from that vendor.  So not only must the accuracy and value be clear, buyers also want to be convinced that the information will not be used to contact them without request. Also, buyers state they are more comfortable giving information to vendors involved in a previous purchase.

While the most common belief is that the request for registration information is so the vendor can contact the buyer, there are more productive reasons buyers seek. The top two are to help the vendor understand buyer needs and guide the registrant to additional relevant information. Consider your ability today to use registration to understand needs and how you use that insight to guide them to relevant content and conversations. It is hard to see how that can be done effectively using only the demographic information common to registration forms.

Registration forms can and will evolve into profile forms. Such forms will capture demographic elements but also need and situation insight to help target relevant content. A simple profile step is to ask them their focus around technical, business or financial aspects of the investment area and the current buying stage. Prior to doing that you must profile your content to match up the needs and focus area of the profile form to your assets. Then, you can run an A vs. B test where you use a standard registration form versus a profile form that identifies additional assets aligned with registrant needs. At the end of each process, ask registrants several questions about the time savings they sense they achieved from providing the registration information vs. the profile information and the level of asset relevance to their needs. The results may provide you positioning useful to build buyer confidence and engagement.

Imagine, someone hitting a profile form that starts with a statement.

“Would you like to save 25% in the time it takes to find content relevant to your focus and buying stage? Your peers have done just that by providing basic profile information about their investment focus and needs.” Such in-form marketing can work to turn what is perceived by many to be an exercise in extracting information to one where there is an immediate promise of a value exchange. That possibility can promote the entry of more accurate information and a greater level of buyer interest and intensity.

Remember, you only get one chance to make that type of value-exchange impression, and if you request profile-related information but only offer up assets in a general or generic manner, there is a price as registrants fail to see the value in being more open. Test the concept with an upcoming campaign, assess the assets you plan to use, match them to focus, role and buying stage. Then, offer recommended assets that match up the profile information with the profile of the registrant/buyer. The impact will enhance the likelihood of making the short list and increase the level of confidence that the buyer has in you.

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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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