How Registration Walls and PDFs can make your Marketing Less Effective


I had an interesting exchange with a client this morning. They hoped I could help foster a conversation about some issues germane to their market. But I couldn’t. Here is the email I sent back:

Text is the language of the Net. It’s the language of blogs. Many of the people I interact with really don’t like PDFs- you often see people apologise when they do [PDF alert!]

If you want influencers to engage with your ideas I think you need to do so on the strength of blogs, rather than PDFs.

As an influencer, I know you would like me to help drive traffic, and a conversation, around your thought pieces – but that needs to be in the “right” format. Otherwise, frankly, I wouldn’t want to point my network at it.

As you can see this is something I feel pretty strongly about. I know traditional marketing has a firewall, where you enter your details to download a “free white paper” in PDF form, then you have a sales person call them up afterwards – it’s all about the “funnel”.

But tech marketing is today is more about driving conversations, in my opinion.

The client came back and said they would consider a “plain text” layout for print, but the registration wall was important, not for sales purposes, but to know who was reading their piece.

But I can’t, or won’t, point my community at a registration wall. That’s a barrier to entry we mostly refuse to jump. If you want to appeal to traditional IT buyers the Reg Wall, PDF white white paper combo might work. But not for next gen influencers and people that live in the cloud.

disclosure: I should point out that I wouldn’t engage with an idea I didn’t find interesting and on topic, and I would as ever disclose any client-related work I was doing.

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James, aka @Monkchips is co-founder of RedMonk, the open source analyst firm, which specialises in developer advocacy and analytics.