Ask and ye shall receive. Or chase them away.

If there’s one thing which is guaranteed to generate disagreeement here at BMON Towers, it’s the question of “should I demand a website visitor says who they are before giving them any worthwhile information?”

Ladies and gentlemen, in the red corner, I give you the business owner who says: “I don’t care if it puts 90% of them off, at least I get contact details from 10% of my visitors”. And in the blue corner (this is me), I give you the argument that if you’re welcoming to 100% of your visitors, more than 10% will want to contact you, and will therefore present their contact details to you voluntarily.

This argument will run and run, and I haven’t seen any good research on the best approach. But of course I’m favourably predisposed towards any article which argues “Data capture forms belong in the same Room 101 as the dial-up modems, wet proofs and the Spice Girls”, like Capture the data. Release the goodwill on Beyond. Sorry about the huge quote here, but I literally couldn’t have put this better myself:

If, like most of us these days, you are creating content that you think is interesting to your target audience, make it freely available. Without charge. Without conditions. Without intrusive telemarketing. Remove every obstacle and allow that information to spread around the world, carrying with it your good name, and letting the good people of your target audience know that you are experts in your area.

If you do this, I genuinely believe you’ll find that the number of people who come back to you for your products and services, because you allowed your information to be read widely, will be far higher than the number who reluctantly gave up their contact details and who you then beat into submission with endless follow-up promotions. Your mileage my vary, and you know who you are.

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