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In a comment on my post last week (“Eliminate Unnecessary Form Fields”) John Hossack foreshadowed this week’s topic: the timing and placement of the request for contact information.

With so much free information available on the web, most of us now expect information to be free and available. When researching potential new suppliers, contractors, etc., we expect to be able to do our initial background research on our own, without the pressure of sales calls.

If a given supplier doesn’t match our expectations—if they withhold information until we’ve provided contact information—many of us will resist. Such resistance can take two forms. We’ll either:

  • Enter false contact information, or
  • Go to a competitor’s website

Clearly, neither of these actions is desirable to the site owner.

A good case in point is www.omniture.com. On their home page, Omniture provides links to product support materials. For example, in support of their Genesis product, Omniture offers a Product Overview, a Product Tour, a Case Study and a White Paper:

All of these downloads are in fact very high quality, powerful selling tools. You’d think that Omniture would want to encourage interested parties to view them. But guess what? You can’t view any of these materials (not even the Product Overview!) without first filling out a form. And what a form it is; notice the seven drop-down menus:

At least the above page provides a little “teaser” information to whet my appetite. In some cases, I don’t even get that. If I click the link for a Product Tour, all I get is a bare form. They don’t even tell me whether the Product Tour is a series of pages, a video, an interactive widget or something else:

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m a big fan of Omniture. VKI Studios are Omniture partners and we’re vocal proponents of their product. But it drives me nuts that every time I go to their website to look up even the most basic product information, I’m forced to provide contact information.

As much as I admire and respect Omniture, I’ve got to say it: I think their approach to gathering contact information is just plain wrong. They’ve got a great supply of powerful, high quality support materials… yet they force potential customers to provide contact information to view any of them.

Imagine potential customers in the early stages of their research, and how they’re likely to react to this. Imagine how many will fill in bogus information. Or just shake their heads and leave the site.

Naturally, Omniture needs to gather contact information. But they’re asking for it too early. They should gather it later in the process, after visitors have had a chance to get excited about Omniture’s great products.

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