Value Exchange (What are you selling?)
That publisher may want to sell you the leads generated from that white paper later, or you may be sacrificing value and ROI from your other lead generation efforts (lower response rates and higher costs from search ads, for example) when prospects find out they can get your information elsewhere without having to register.
But depending on your objectives, that might be OK. Especially with a non-customer and prospect audience, it all comes down to value – what value are you providing, what do they have to give up (if anything) to get it, and what value do you get in exchange for getting that information or service out there.
The first part of that value equation is the simplest. If you don’t produce something that others want, you’ve missed the entire point. Whether you sell it, give it in exchange for a registration, or simply give it away – people have to want it.
Whether or not your audience is willing to give something up (their personal information, an email address, or even money) depends on how much value you’ve created, and how badly they want it. Some of this is surely in how well you market your offer, but most of the value is baked into the offer itself.
Whether or not you choose to require something from your audience in exchange for that value is entirely up to your end-game. Are you publishing a white paper in order to develop thought leadership, extend awareness of your business, or build credibility for a new product? If that’s the case, then you want the white paper in as many hands as possible. Registration, therefore, is probably a bad strategy.
There’s no uniform answer to this value exchange. But it is important to fully understand what you want out of the exchange, and whether what you’re offering can support that objective. It may not be cut and dry, but lacking clear objectives and success metrics up front will only create greater ambiguity and confusion down the road.
Hat-tip to Howard for the inspiration.