How do you measure the success of free distribution?

Yesterday I looked at whether you can get prospects to reveal the seriousness of their enquiry voluntarily, and that meant looking at the sort of data you need to request from them. I can’t let that discussion pass without revisiting the topic of whether you need to ask for any information at all.

We don’t have many clients who put everything behind a gateway, but there are one or two who do; even the humblest PDF data sheet has to be requested with full name-and-address details. My best guess, from looking at the data, is that such companies only get about a quarter as many downloads. However, they’ll argue that even one name is better than none. I can see their point, but I don’t agree. I believe that although from 1 “gated” download you’ll get 1 name and address, the quality is variable; whereas from 4 anonymous downloads, you’re likely to get at least 1 person come back to you, and they’d always be of good quality.

Of course, the difficulty is in measuring how many people came back to you after downloading a data sheet anonymously, but you can make a start on this as well as encouraging them to get in touch. This is done by adding a page to the data sheet, which links to an online “how to contact us to discuss things further” web page. Naturally, this web page would include every method of contacting you, including the harder-to-measure telephone number, but would also include an email address (which you could measure, with a bit of thought), and a web-based contact form (which you could definitely measure).


  1. MaurizioFantato

    Dear Chris
    Behind what can only be described as draconian measure to protect what may be deemed as commercially sensitive information (and here we could engage in a long discussion on the responsibility of B2B operation to be as open as their B2C counterparts) there is often a great degree of ignorance about data gathering from online activities.

    Of course, as you say, it’s always desirable to have a contact name, but what is often overlooked by companies is that unless there is an email verification system, asking for a name and (unverified) email is pointless. If verification is required the cycle becomes more laborious and a prospective user can only be enticed if they perceive real value behind this exercise (like a webinar for example). So I am much in favour, like you, of creating a virtuous cycle of open information, for a number of reasons which are too obvious to mention.

    Furthermore, there are advanced analytical tools in the market that can farm real time intelligence such as company details (and even a viewer’s email if this information has been coded in!) thus making it pointless to ask for registration for the mere purpose of obtaining a contact.

    Every company has a different perspective about what they publish online but many of these rules will be challenged even more by the greater uptake of social media, when it will become virtually impossible for normal corporations to ring-fence basic commercial information.

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