Do You Mind Being Squeezed? Thoughts on Registration Forms

Dear Copy Bitch: I noticed on one of the client sites you list in your portfolio that you’re using a squeeze page for white paper downloads. There has been a lot of interesting blog chatter about content gates recently (my favorite from D. Meerman Scott). I’m curious — what do you think about it? I am writing an ebook for my new website and think I’m going to offer it without a registration page. What has been your experience with your client’s registration page?

—Clare M., Belmont, Mass.

Answer: I find that if people really want the content, they’ll fill out the forms — even long ones. But the content must be valuable. Burn them once with crappy content, and you’ve likely lost them forever. Last week, I talked about a long-ass form I had to fill out for a free magazine subscription. I went through with it, mainly because I’m fairly certain the content will be valuable to me.

To squeeze or not to squeeze? How do you decide?

It depends on your goals — if you’re looking to be a thought leader and you want your philosophy and way of thinking to spread like wildfire, you have a much better chance of that happening if you offer something free and 100 percent clear (e.g. no registration form required). If you’re looking to develop a list of people who are interested in your products or services so that you can continue marketing to them (with their permission, of course!) — then a squeeze page makes sense.

But let’s look at an example. Let’s say you’re a corporate mentoring consultant providing a free white paper on how to leverage a corporate mentoring program to attract, develop, and retain talent. Well, that’s a very specific (read: small) audience we’re targeting. If someone is interested in this white paper, it’s probably because they have an existing corporate mentoring program or they’re thinking of starting one — both excellent leads for the client.

Let’s say the same mentoring consultant wants to get out on the speaking circuit because he thinks his mentoring philosophy is the way companies should approach mentoring in the 21st century. And let’s say he has an ebook that provides insight into this philosophy. Well, if he offers that ebook free and 100 percent clear, it stands a better chance of being shared by many people — people who could be interested in bringing in this consultant to speak to an organization.

On most of my clients’ websites, we give away some stuff, such as newsletter articles, free and 100 percent clear, and then require registration for other things. I think that’s a good approach for most SMBs: having a solid mixture of free-and-100-percent-clear content and registration-form content based on the client’s goals.

Curious as to what my other readers think. Weigh in with your comments.