August 11

Lead Generation via white papers and webinars

Content Marketing


MarketingSherpa published a great article today on how Redhat’s Director of Marketing Communications, Chris Grams, broke the rules for distributing white papers and webinars.  As a result, Grams believes that he’s generating better qualified leads. 

Grams sums it up by saying, "I don’t like the idea of forcing people into becoming leads. I like people to opt-in to entering our sales stream. Our sales team is very busy. They don’t have time to waste with people who aren’t that interested…"

I agree, we do need to strike a balance between collecting information and giving value.  If we always require people "to register" to gain anything of value, then we’re forcing them – that’s not a formula for building a relationship.  So how can we do both?

I’ve found it is far more effective to focus on lead generation via micro-conversions that build an opportunity profile over time such as; requesting an email address, then asking for first and last name, later requesting a phone number and so on. 

Grams, suggests that marketers may want to rid their sites of registration pages for their “juicy” content.  Do you agree with him?  Why or Why not? : How to Get Thousands More White Paper Readers & Webinar Attendees: Red Hat’s Initial Test Results.

Using though leading content to generate more leads

If you use webinars as part of your lead generation mix, you might want to read my post "Tips for generating better ROI from webinars."

One final thought – don’t rush a list of webinar attendees or white paper download registrants to your sales team and call them sales leads.  After doing numerous lead qualification programs, I’ve found that roughly 5% to 15% (at best) of inquiries are truly sales ready opportunities. 

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. I think we need to strike a balance with our prospects. Give them a taste on your open site, but it’s reasonable to ask for an email address in return for a full download. If your content is truly valuable, no one will complain; if not, no one will bother.
    Just as important is what you do with that valued email address once you get it. I recommend you send a thank you email within a few days of their registration, confirming they got what they were looking for, plus a real person’s name, email and phone number should they have questions. After that, keep your contacts to a reasonable frequency and only when you have something useful to offer them. Better yet, offer them the option to receive periodic updates via RSS so they will be in control of the process.

  2. I believe in collecting contact information in exchange for valuable info as long as that readers information is not considered an immediate lead. By creating a large mailing list, even if many readers have never generated any revenue for you, you are positioning yourself as an expert resource.

    I personally prefer the method of giving prospects and readers value first without requesting their contact info in return. By providing information for “free” and including compelling reasons to buy your product or service in that information, you are immediately seen as a resource, not a peddler.

  3. Isn’t it a question of what’s fair? Whether there’s a “value” transferred in exchange for information?
    One might also ask that people not ask for information, white papers or anything else, unless they are a qualified prospect for the marketer offering the “free” information.
    “Idle information seekers need not apply.” Does that make sense?
    Is it fair to ask for the information necessary to establish a relationship, even if that begins with something so basic as email registration including a name for personalization purposes?
    I think so.
    But more than that is problematic. When the marketer begins the fulfillment process should offer the next rung on the relationship ladder.
    The relationship grows in steps focused at creating a client out of the information seeker. IT MAY BE THAT THE INFORMATION IS TO SATISY A curiousity; or maybe the info doesn’t “fit.”
    But, if it is helpful, if more information offered in the process of building a relationship leads to consumation of the marriage, then the investment may well have been worth the effort.
    I might argue that the process of building the relationship includes the elimination of those unqualified to become clients; this is accomplished by using the relationship building process affirmatively to increase the potential determination of desireability of the prospect at each step in the process.
    This turns out to be self-fulfilling in the sense that prospects eliminate themselves as the evidence of need either asserts or doesn’t assert itself.

  4. We use content on a continuous basis to generate and nurture leads for our clients. As interests are profiled and prospects scored, we push only the relevant info to them, and it works. Try a balance of forms, so it’s easy for them to get value.

    Craig Cheyne

  5. Great ideas. You’re right. Revenue generation is the key. I believe the purpose of lead generation is to help the sales team sell.

    The that end, the quality of each lead is much more important than the qunatity… i.e. the better your leads are at the top of the sales funnel, the better your conversion rate at each stage of the sales process.

  6. I constantly hear about leads and brand awareness. isn’t the true function of lead generation /marketing to produce revenue not just the amount of leads a marketing campaign generates. “GOOD” Marketing should be focussed on revenue generation not response rates or amount of leads generated.

    Think about it for a second , a company spends$10,000 doing a marketing campaign that results in 10,000 leads. WONDERFUL right? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Until those leads/responses have been converted into sales their is no provem value in that specific campaign.

    Or a company spends $10,000 on a marketing campaign and gets “ONE” lead that brimngs in $20,000 worth of business. I wonder whichone I would prefer.

    Let me leave you with this ” Why don’t advertisting agencies advertise??????????????????? Think about it.

  7. Hi Brian,

    Great posting. I agree with Gram that white papers and juicy content should be “unlocked”. My partner, Elise Bauer, wrote a paper on entitled “Be a Thought Leader” in which she writes:

    “Unlock your white papers! Don’t make people register to learn more about you. You want as many people to know about you as possible. If you want to do lead generation, use direct response ads rather than holding the information on your website hostage. Be generous with your expertise. Or the market will favor someone else who is.”

    Full article is at

    We’ve applied this philosophy with clients and seen MORE leads and brand awareness as a result.

    All the best,
    The Pacifica Group

  8. I agree with Justin, “You aren’t forcing anyone to give their information — especially if you truly have something of value. It’s how you handle the interaction that brings the visitor closer to a solution.”

    As to Grams’ statement, “Our sales team is very busy. They don’t have time to waste with people who aren’t that interested…” This is true, which is why an inquiry or suspect needs to be qualified before it is sent to the sales team.

    If you take down the registration forms you do not know who is visiting your site and expressing interest. Yes, people looking for whitepapers may be too early in the buy-cycle and are most likely not qualified enough to be contacted by a salesperson. But, they are qualified enough to receive a newsletter (if opted in) or some type of ongoing communication… something to nurture them as they move through the buy-cycle.

    Great article!

  9. When I first read this article at Marketing Sherpa it seemed interesting, but then I realized that several factors need to be considered. And, those factors are:

    1. The quality of visitors. Are they freebie seekers, are they just browsing, how close are they to buying.
    2. How much information you are requesting on the lead generation page. Some ask for a life survey.
    3. Is the white paper unique and of high value? Many B2B white papers are useless pitches.

    Red Hat operates in a world where hundreds of white papers are made available daily. The quality of many of these papers is poor, or rehash of what someone else is saying followed by a pitch.

    I did like their tip to make webinar archives available — but I’d still ask for an e-mail address before delivering them. (But not a mailing address, fax number, phone number, or list of questions.)

    While I’ll give a taste for free, I recommend to my clients they collect enough information to deliver the white paper and follow up with other offers that further qualify the prospect. My lead generation landing pages pull 17% to 23%, but I only ask for a first name and e-mail (name and address for physical items.)

    If someone is interested enough in requesting more information, then it’s my responsibility to stay in touch. My follow-up then works on understanding their unique situation, time frame to purchase, and ability to buy.

    You aren’t forcing anyone to give their information — especially if you truly have something of value. It’s how you handle the interaction that brings the visitor closer to a solution.

    I will agree that many leads who fill out these forms aren’t qualified — marketers must work with these contacts (in my case, ask them to prove they are qualified) before passing them on to sales.

    If you have a compelling offer, quality white papers, and ask for only what you use to the benefit of the reader … then prospects will happily share their contact information with you to start a buying relationship.


    Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant
    Helping executives create and keep customers

Comments are closed.

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