May 06, 2008

New Chart: Tech Buyers Don’t Always Tell the Truth on Registration Forms

SUMMARY: Do prospects lie on registration forms? Of course, they do … but just how much? Creating a lead generation form that balances your need for information and high-quality leads requires thinking of it as a transaction

In our latest Chart of the Week, we look at what personal information tech buyers are willing to give up before they say, “Back off!”
Chart: Do Tech Buyers Fib on Registration Forms?
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Click here to see larger, printable version of this chart

Some of the most frequent questions we get concern registration forms. How do you create a balance between the need for information and a high volume of leads? Most marketers know that longer forms have higher abandonment rates. Ones that ask only for name and email get substantially higher conversion rates than those that require contact and intent information.

The dilemma over a complex sale is whether to press for the needed information since name and email often aren’t enough. Here are a few of the issues:

• Bandwidth of your sales team: Unless you have all the call time in the world, there’s a limit to the number of calls that the sales team can make. So, you need to focus attention on quality more than quantity. After all, a good content offer can produce hundreds or thousands of leads. The questions asked in the registration form are the easiest way to begin separating the wheat from the chaff.

• Lack of respect: The No. 1 complaint we get from lead gen marketers is that the sales team doesn’t follow up on leads, which implies a lack of respect for their quality. If salespeople were confident that a lead passed along would be a hot one, they’d clamor for more. It comes back to the quality-vs.-quantity question and collaborating with sales to analyze past successes to determine the signs of a good lead.

• Hesitancy by prospects: So, you have a great piece of content and you know that prospects will fill out a long form to get it. Now the problem is accuracy. In the chart above, technology buyers admit to lying on their registration forms. From the drop after Name/Email, you can guess that they share only as much as they feel necessary to get your white paper or pricing information. After that, the quality of responses drops in relation to how ‘business-personal’ the questions get. When questions get into areas like buying intent, company size, timing and budget, the chance of getting accurate data drops sharply.

Key takeaway: Marketers need to think of lead generation forms as a transaction. People trade their time (via contact information and the anticipation of being marketed to) for information. A well-designed form lets those who are genuinely interested in company/product information to identify themselves while giving those who are earlier in the cycle (or just interested in that white paper) what they came for and move along. Ultimately, the creation of a strong form is the result of testing.

Next week, we’ll offer a preview of some new research from a study just completed by MarketingSherpa and CNET that looks at how more than 3,100 technology buyers prospects value and seek out pricing information.

Remember, with Chart of the Week, our weekly goal is to bring you something useful and interesting in 2 minutes by presenting a bite-sized piece of Sherpa research and the lessons we learned from it. Feel free to post the link or grab the image ... Sherpa's Chart of the Week is yours to use in your blog, presentations or simply for reference.

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