Using online content to build relationships…

Want to harvest emails? Then don’t ask for people’s email address. Not just yet. Instead, try giving them some great free content first.

It’s pretty amazing to see how much valuable stuff one can obtain via the World Wide Web. I’m talking not only about valuable content you can find on websites, blogs and forums, but also downloadable documents such white papers, e-books, case studies, trend reports and market research to name but a few.

Great content is the new currency in the online marketing space. But many companies are still in their ‘bartering’ headset and ask for an e-mail address – or even physical address data – straight away.

But why not try building a relationship first? Establish some trust? It stands to reason that people are much more likely to download totally free content rather than submit a form or give you their email address. Some estimates are that people are 50 times more likely to download free content rather than ‘barter’ content. Others say 20 to 1.

My suggestion? Split your content into three. Give away the first two parts. If they are interested, you can bet your bottom dollar they will come back for more. And give you an email address in return.

If you are unsure about it, here’s another suggestion: do an A-B-split test by dishing up two different pages. Visitor A is asked to submit his email address, visitor B can download the content without this pre-requisite. After a while, measure the number of email addresses against the number of downloads.

Giving away free stuff often goes against the grain in commercial organisations. But balance that against the value of building real relationships with visitors, prospects and customers. It’s a simple tactic that can help you spread your message, and harvest those emails too. What’s not to like?

No related posts.