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Bleeding_HeartsRequiring registration in exchange for a download is a hot topic of debate these days.David Meerman Scott advocates banishing registration, believing companies will fare better by letting their thoughts and ideas go viral. On the other hand, as C. Edward Brice pointed out in a recent interview with me, as long as marketers are measured on leads delivered, registration is not likely to disappear for some time. While folks like Blake Hinckley, an intern at Babcock & Jenkins, are applying impressive brainpower to figuring out new ways that marketers can collect information from prospects, marketers want to know what they can do today.

Collect incremental information

I’m a proponent of collecting incremental information during each successive interaction with a prospect. Think of your relationship with the prospect like a dating scenario. On the first date, you wouldn’t expect the other person to tell you everything about his or her self. Instead, you’d expect to learn more and more over time. That’s the same mindset you should have with your prospects.

How it works

Let’s say a prospect’s first interaction with you is to download something valuable, such as a white paper, eBook, or how-to guide from your Web site. You could request the prospect’s name and email address in exchange for the download.You could send an email asking if the person would like to receive useful information from time to time (i.e., would grant permission to be added to your database). Plus, at the end of the paper, eBook, or guide, you could point the person to another asset in your library – whatever makes sense in relation to moving the prospect through the buying process in a logical sequence.

Let’s assume that you encourage the reader to sign up for the next paper in a series. When the person requests the download, you could ask for his or her company name and role. At the end of that paper, you could point the prospect to a one-hour webinar. Upon signup, you could ask for the person’s company size, timeframe to purchase, and phone number.

The key is to ask for a bit more information with each contact so you can build the information up over time. (Equally important, you should only ask for information that you will use.) That way you take the burden off the prospect while gathering the information you need. By using cookies, you can pre-populate your forms with the information you’ve captured to date. The prospect can see you’re asking for just a bit of additional information with each interaction.

What it looks like

In a recent Webinar presented by Target Marketing magazine, Adam Needles of SilverPop showed what progressive profiling looks like.







If you’re not using a marketing automation tool, you’ll need to do the following to put this into play. Map your content assets to the prospect’s role and place in the buying stage, and work with your Web or IT group to make sure your registration database pre-populates Web forms appropriately. While it might seem like a lot of work, mapping your content assets will serve you well in many ways. Plus, your prospects will appreciate not being hounded from the get-go by phone calls from overzealous telesales reps.