Bartleby the Prospect: Getting the White Paper to the Audience

By Joel Barker

or To Register or Not to Register?

We know from experience that creating a good white paper is a real investment. The company very naturally wants to get a return on that investment, usually in the form of sales leads.  In an effort to create leads, many companies distribute white papers off their websites through a registration process. All over the web, on subjects ranging from email marketing to laser printer performance, I come across intriguing white papers that I want to read. I click on the link and what do I get?  A request for my personal information.

Typical white paper registration form

At this point, I have three options:

  1. Dutifully fill out the form honestly, knowing that a sales person will probably contact me.
  2. Provide bogus information, eg lie as much as possible, though I may need to give a legit email address.
  3. Don’t read the white paper.

I choose option 3, don’t read the paper, more than any other. Not only do I not want to deal with a salesperson, I don’t want to take the time to fill out the form.  Sometimes, they even email you the white paper.  Sometimes, you even have to create a login for their portal to access their content.

I have plenty of logins in my life, thank you. I would prefer not to.

There are some reasons to require registration, because it seems like that would be the best way to collect sales leads.  However, I wonder how many people would have read the paper had you provided it without any registration.  Your paper is being read by less people and doing less work if people like me are turning away.  Instead, I feel that the white paper should be read by as many people as possible.

When posting a white paper, I recommend that we offer a voluntary contact form.

The document itself, the white paper that the customer downloads to read, should be a compelling enough call to action that the reader will have the opportunity to reach out themselves.