Picture the scene: You’re on your favourite wine merchant’s website, looking to buy a few bottles of wine. You find the perfect bottle and click “add to basket”. A form pops up asking you to fill in a list of personal details. You really do want to buy that wine, so you reluctantly comply, but you are then informed that you will receive an email when you have been approved as a purchaser. Thirty seconds later, no email has arrived, and as you are busy and want to tick this job off your list you decide to try a different wine merchant instead—one who will be happy to let you buy that preferred bottle without going through this rigmarole.
Sound familiar? Well maybe not entirely, but it’s effectively what consulting firms are doing when they require convoluted registration processes to access their top-quality thought leadership. Recently, I was repeatedly asked to go back and complete a subscription form because I had not selected anything from the “Title” drop down. I can understand firms wanting to capture names and email addresses of people downloading their material for tracking purposes, but does anyone really need to know my title before allowing me to read their content? And, let’s be honest, when I am eventually sent the PDF a few hours later and I inevitably delete it because I’m no longer interested and have found what I was looking for elsewhere, it’s hardly going to help a firm track my level of engagement.
This all points to the conclusion that firms should put user experience—rather than the needs of their marketing departments—front and centre when they consider the accessibility of their thought leadership. Not every firm requires detailed registration before emailing a PDF, but many demand an email and password—which can create a far from frictionless experience when email addresses change or passwords are forgotten. Firms should consider the information they really need, and how they’re going to use it, rather than continuing to follow intricate processes that ask an awful lot of their time-poor target audience.
All of our research with clients tells us that thought leadership needs to hook them in within the first 20 seconds of reading it. If your website has done the job of selling them a piece of content, and they’ve engaged with it, don’t squander the opportunity—make the most of it. After all, no one wants to be like the wine merchant with that perfect bottle that no one wants to buy in the end because it’s simply too hard to do so.