In this age, when one can get quality information from various sources in real-time, why is that some companies still hold on to the age-old technique of asking users to fill-up a lengthy registration form to download or get access to company whitepapers? Worse, some companies force you to do this for every single white paper – there is no sense of a session or login or an account, even one is prepared to go through that trouble.
Look at this example on the right. Why would anyone give out so much of information just to access some whitepaper. They are all mandatory. Knowing that most of the whitepapers are vendor solution biased, why would I get motivated to fill in this time sucker?
Also, look at the context as to how people find these whitepapers. Rarely, you go to a company and read the whitepapers. I mean, eventually you may do if you like that product or space and want to know more. But in reality, you come across these whitepapers when you are searching or reading some other article or a blog post. People don’t like to change the context and jump in the middle of the article to some other whitepaper and start reading it. I typically, right-click and open it in a separate tab (or download) and get back to that queue when I am done with that article. And when you are back on to these new tabs, and find that they are all asking you to fill-in the forms, what chances are that one actually goes through them? Nah, I just kill those tabs and move on.
See you lost that opportunity of few minutes of my time!!
What is surprising is that even some companies who are in the business of security, identity, federated authentication etc adopt the same ridiculous fill_in_the_form_first approach. Why is that a simple email is not good enough for you? If registration is so important to access these articles, why not implement OpenId or a similar federated authentication technique.
If the goal is to get as much information about the user as you can before he gets access to whitepaper so that you can send whole bunch of unsolicited spam, then you are already lost. Nobody likes that. There are better ways of tracking other demographics about the interest level of users on your whitepapers.