Sunday, June 27, 2010

Marketing Japan: Internet Promotions? Don't Make Long Sign-ups!...

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

If you are running any sort of Internet service, business or promotion that requires people to sign up to join, then at least make the sign up as short and as simple as possible.

Survey results of over 10,000 Internet users (done by Nikkei Shimbun) show that if users must click a site or a banner link more than twice, they probably won't do it.

One of my good friend's tells me how he is working on a huge cross-platform Internet promotion that has all the great pieces to a fantastic Internet Social Media Marketing success… This promotion has everything built in! It has a dedicated website using WordPress; publicity integrating old media and print to draw new potential customers to their Internet sites (they definitely need the over-40 crowd in Japan as those are the people with all the money); A Pick and Twitter component and, of course, online video, blogs, blogging, vlogs, and keywords on Google Search and Yahoo! and much more involving a full spectrum of Social Media Marketing for Japan. This is a marketeers dream come true in the year 2010... Except for one tiny problem... My good friend laments that one of the partners is stuck in old fashioned promotional thinking that doesn't fit well a all with the Internet. 

My friend asked me if I could help provide some evidence that he could show to the partner as proof that the partner's ideas were out-dated and if I could help him to convince the partner to drop these ideas.

Well, I don't know if I can help him convince someone who is stuck in old-fashioned thinking, but I gave him some data and wished him well…

That's what gave me the idea for this blog today. If you come up against the same sort of obstacle, then I hope you can refer back to this particular blog for some ammo to help you fight back.

But first, let me give you some background and then tell you what the partner's idea was. 

The promotion was a tie up between three different companies. One company owns powerful old and new media; one company can give away free vacations; the the company can provide the transport to those vacations. All three companies have a need that overlaps and allows them to help each other out and not pay someone like Dentsu or Hakuhodo $180,000 for a promotion like this... If they cooperate, they can arrange a promotion like this through my friend's company for about $9,000!

The media provider can penetrate into millions of homes and is giving that piece of the puzzle up for free as barter (they want more people to use their media). The media partner also has a massive Internet mailing list and gets over 10 million unique users a month! The problem is, instead of just running a contest where all you need to do is sign up, one of the partner's (who needs all the free promotion they can get) wants to add a quiz to the contest that forces people who wish to enter to have to do some Internet searching and research and answer questions - along with filing in personal information on an Internet sign-up form… Not only will the users  have to click through to several pages, this idea takes them off the contest page… Which makes it a very bad idea.

My friend called me and wrote to me asking for advice. Here's what I wrote:

Dear Ken (not his real name),

This is a very bad idea. From past experience and from Internet research, I must strongly recommend against doing this sort of thing in your promotion. 

Let me explain why: 

This kind of promotional idea is very old fashioned (10 or 20 years old) and will result in a contest whereby less than a few dozen people sign up. As you, can suspect, we know this from experience from mass media promotions. 

It is well known that in Internet marketing that (with data research and user surveys of 10's of thousands of Internet users done by Nikkei Research) that people will not, on average, click on a site more than twice. This sort of idea presented by your partner will result in at least 4 clicks. This will cause a huge number of interested people to drop off immediately. 

If the contest is designed so that people sign up just their name and e-mail, you will get tens of thousands of entries and hundreds of people entering several times. Effective promotion is promotion that people think about often, and can enter often.

If people must go to another page and research information and then answer questions, you will get a few dozen entries. No exaggeration.

This idea is ancient; it is like some newspaper promotional ideas for the past. Also, remember that this is a partnership promotion with benefit to all, I can't imagine that the other two partners - especially the vital media partner - would agree to this. If this partner is paying for the promotion, then I doubt that anyone would complain… But this is a barter. This is a critical point.

Think about your own experience on the Internet in the past: When you had to sign up for something, if it was easy, you did it. If it asked too many questions or became troubles-some, you dropped it. I know I do.

This problem is also talked about on page 257 of "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" by Daivd Meerman Scott. It says, "Do not use a sign-up form that requires your prospects to enter lots of data - people will abandon the form." 

Most recently, when my company did a media promotion (on a TV station and radio station) for a week whereby people only had go to the Internet contest page and  enter their name and e-mail, we got over 9,000 entries. In another campaign, when we required them to go to another page and research a question (That campaign was for a world famous automotive parts company) and all people had to do was go to the auto parts maker's homepage and answer a question we got only 14! Fourteen!? Yes, 14. You read right.

Also, once again, I seriously doubt that your media partner, a company that is a trend leader in Internet marketing will agree to this sort of out of date promotion... After all, they are giving you access to millions of people at a barter. I don't think that you or your partner are in a position to demand this sort of thing from them.

Lastly, think of the damage to you client's name when people think, "Oh? I can win! How nice." Then they go to the contest page and see that they have to do a bunch of things to enter; answer questions, provide personal data, click a bunch of times  to enter in a contest where the chances of winning are about 1 in a million? No way.

The average person will think two things about you and your client. They will associate these two things:

1) You and your client's name
2) Troublesome

You can't have that. The Internet is quick… Buzz on the Internet is fast and it is not forgiving if that buzz is bad.

I strongly suggest that you either convince your client to change their mind, or, if they are insistent, find another partner. There isn't a company in the world who isn't interested in the new way of Marketing, marketing in Japan, and the new rules of PR.

Then I signed off.

I wonder if what I wrote and the data I sent will help at all...We'll see.  

But for you, my dear reader,  if you get anything out of this blog, then make it this: Have online contests as often as possible but do not require people to enter too much information. Ideally, just an e-mail address is best.

Notes: Here is an article about a newspaper in the UK who required an Internet sign-up - for contact that is free - and it seriously damaged their readership numbers. See here.

There's many companies out and about that are making these mistakes for you so you don't have to… Just pay attention and learn the lessons from them. Now that's intelligent marketing!


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Kris said...

What, you mean I can't make them jump through 3 sites/domains (register on each.. with CAPTCHA!), answer 15 questions (including the their first school teachers name, favorite kind of dog, "insert useless item", "insert irrelevant question", "insert offensive question", etc, etc, etc, ), require they fax in after registering to confirm, and not expect a big turnout?

Disclaimer: I by no means am stating that I have been presented with any of these ideas/concepts by clients... really.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Ha! Ha! Ha! Thanks Kris.

Kris said...

My favorites are still any idea that involves Fax! It's like email, but with paper!

Hmm...I may have a business idea there.