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Why Less is More in a Download Registration Form

by | Apr 3, 2019 | Collateral, White Papers, Landing Pages, Content Marketing | 0 comments

Registration form

In my previous article, I explained why unrestricted access to valuable white paper content is normally a huge mistake  – a mistake that can cost you in terms of leads, brand recognition, relationship building, and sales opportunities.

If you want your white paper to generate leads, you must require readers to fill a registration form with their email address before they can download it.

Almost as bad as not requiring registration, however, is doing the opposite: requiring too much information from the requester.

Prospects don’t want more work

A registration form that looks like a lot of work creates barriers between you and your prospect. Long registration forms have also been shown to lower conversion rates and ROI (more on this later). Yet, I found this mistake in over 35% of websites that required registration.

Filling out a long form tries your prospects’ patience. They immediately begin to ask themselves:

  • Why is all this required?
  • Am I going to be bombarded with sales calls?
  • Is this really worth my time?

Those doubts will cause many to choose NOT to download your white paper.

Make your registration form easy to complete

The solution, of course, is to collect the minimum data necessary to maintain contact. I suggest requiring only first and last name and email address. You might also consider adding one or two optional fields – like job title, company or website URL.

Using a shorter registration form can result in major benefits, including higher conversion rates and ROI.

A few years ago, Marketo conducted a test of registration forms with five, seven and nine fields. The five-field form increased conversion rate by 11.7% over the seven-field form and by 34% over the nine-field form, while reducing cost per lead by 10.6% and 25.4% respectively. [i]

Fill in the blanks later

Marketo also found it’s cheaper for them to use a shorter form and contract with an outside vendor to complete the record, than it is to capture more information in the registration form.

Remember, you don’t need to qualify your prospect all in one go. Build trust first. Additional data can be collected later.

Take-Away Points

  1. If your white paper download registration form looks like a chore to fill out, you’ve created an unnecessary barrier between you prospect and your brand.
  2. Studies have shown long registration forms have tend to lower conversion rates and ROI.
  3. It can be cheaper to use a shorter form and contract an outside vendor to gather more data than it is to capture that additional data in the registration form.

Next Steps

This month’s article is the eighth of a series of excerpts from CopyEngineer’s newly updated special report, 10 Common Mistakes that Kill White Paper ROI: How to Avoid Them and Generate More Leads. To get your free copy of the report, click here.

Need expert help with planning and developing a new white paper for your company? Call CopyEngineer at (+39) 011 569 4951. Or drop me an email at I’ll be happy to schedule a call and discuss your project with you.


[i]   Kirkpatrick, David, Lead Generation Testing: form field length reduces cost per lead by $10.66, Marketing Experiments Blog, 27 June 2011.

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