How to Improve Your Image by
NOT Delivering

Bottlneck

This is the first Copyblogger post by Michael Stelzner of Writing White Papers.

Today’s “I want it now” culture dictates that you make people happy by providing what they want, when they want it.

Need information? Google it.

However, is it really wise for marketing folks to satisfy people’s desire for instant access?

M. Scott Peck describes delayed gratification as a sacrifice of present comforts for future gain in his book, The Road Less Traveled.

By NOT providing people what they want, when they want it, you can actually improve your image, enhance your branding and increase your sales.

Why?

Unlike any other point in history, we can immediately access information.

With this great accessibility comes information overload.

With information overload comes poor retention.

With poor retention come weak branding results.

And we all know what happens if no-one remembers your brand—business stagnates.

What I am about to explain may seem counterintuitive or even downright crazy.

However, remember that you are in business to make money AND that people are willing to wait for the right something.

The Common Lead Generation Mistake

Let’s say you have some great information and have formatted it into a white paper or an ebook.

You have written this material to ultimately grow your business.

You really have two marketing options:

  • Give it away: With this option, you simply have a PDF file publicly available for immediate access and hope the document does all the selling for you.
  • Gate it away: This involves providing a sample of the content and then asking people to do something to gain access to the rest.

I am going to focus on the concept of gating your great content.

This is particularly common with lead generation campaigns tied to white papers or free reports.

After people read a sample of your wonderful content, you ask them to complete the registration form.

Now here’s the big mistake many marketers make: They simply send on the requested information immediately after the form has been completed.

The logic goes like this: I have captured my lead and that’s all I care about.

However, you’ll have a much bigger marketing opportunity if you send something else, rather than what was requested.

With immediate access after registration, you end up simply making a very quick impression on readers that is easily forgotten.

Because the only post-registration touch point is the document itself, you are banking fully on the strength of your ebook or white paper to do all of your selling.

If you could, wouldn’t you rather have four or five touch points?

Delayed Response Marketing

There are acceptable ways to get a few marketing messages delivered and improve your image, while maintaining your reader’s interest.

What I am about to outline comes from personal experience.

I wrote a document called, “How to Write a White Paper: A White Paper on White Papers.” More than 44,000 people registered for the paper and I still have between 50 and 100 people signing up daily. To see how I set up the main page, click here.

Here is the delayed response marketing principle applied:

Touch Point 1 – The “Thank-You” Page: After the registration form is submitted, send the reader to a “Thank you for registering” page. This is where you make your first pitch for some of your value-added services. You should also include the email address your document will be sent from so folks to add it to their white lists (increasing delivery rates). See a sample here.

Touch Point 2 – The “Thanks for Registering” Email: Set up an autoresponder that sends a thank-you message to new registrants. This is where you can thank them for registering and state, “While you are waiting for our paper, you might be interested in this other information.” You can link to some of your services, your blog and so on.

Touch Point 3 – Send the Content One Hour Later: Set up a delayed message that sends the requested document (or links to a page that contains it) after an hour has gone by. Be sure to mention again some of the other services you offer.

Touch Point 4 – The Actual Document: The ebook or white paper is the final touch point. By this time, the reader has been expecting your content and should be familiar with your name, company and brand.

Touch Point 5 – Your Newsletter (optional): If you have a newsletter, it would be wise to add the option to subscribe to it on your registration form. Set up a three-day delay and send a special prefabricated edition of your newsletter. This provides another opportunity to get your name in front of a prospect.

The Benefits

By NOT sending what they want right away, you can actually:

  • Increase your name recognition: Every time the prospect reads something from you, your name becomes etched in their brain. More touch points mean more chances you will gain their business.
  • Establish a relationship: By sending well-crafted messages, you begin the process of establishing trust with your prospect. These relationship-forming steps help take you from an information dispenser to an advocate.
  • Increase your open rates: Because readers are expecting an email from you, your thank-you message and follow-up message will have a very high open rate. This is the prime time to mention related products and services.
  • Improve the desire to read the document: When the final document arrives, the reader will have been prepared for this great piece. The delayed gratification concept kicks in and they will likely treat your work as extra special, devoting time to your useful resource.

What are your thoughts? Do these concepts run against the grain of typical online marketing strategies?

Michael Stelzner is the author of the book Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged. Subscribe to his 20,000-reader newsletter here.

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Comments

  1. I love copy editors that don’t know anything about SEO. “Click here” is such a wasted link.

    Good thoughts on delayed gratification though.

  2. This kind of approach typically annoys me – I don’t like being made to jump through hoops just to get the information I want. When companies do this to me, I usually end up at their competitor’s website.

  3. “Click here” is such a wasted link.

    Yes, having people click through at a higher rate is such a waste. < /sarcasm >

  4. Hi Mike;

    Thanks for your comment.

    There really are no loops to jump through if you read what I was saying.

    One simple step: fill out the form.

    No further action required for the reader.

    :)

  5. so, essentially, what you’re saying is that once a potential customer has gone to the trouble of self-identifying themselves to you, you then need to totally abuse this contract by spamming them five times per piece of information.

    i can’t get over to this clown’s site fast enough.

    why not just have a personal, intimate, one-on-one interaction where a real person initiates a real conversation once the “lead” has been generated.

  6. Good thoughts here, Michael. Not something I’d have thought of on my own, but definitely something that I think works.

    The idea of delayed gratification works especially well with something like a white paper, I think. Typically, when I download a white paper, I don’t plan on reading it immediately anyway, so having to wait an hour for it to show up in my inbox wouldn’t be a big deal.

  7. Hey Ed;

    I have not had one person complain in more than 40,000.

    Two emails hardly constitutes spam.

    If you are willing to make 100 phone calls for me a day, let me know…

    Mike

  8. Interesting concept. I like the idea and can think of way to implement it in what I’m already doing with my free e-book for newsletter sign-ups. I have the thank you page and they get the first newsletter. I don’t think I’ll go so far as having 5 messages, but adding something more about other resources couldn’t hurt.

    Thanks.

  9. @Mike K: I think if you were truly interested, you’d go through that hoop, and once you did, the value of you downloading that book suddenly increased heavily… It’s a shake out…

  10. I don’t know, I tend to disagree with the premise of this article.

    Maybe I’m a simple old-school guy, but there seems to be a lot more thought parsing going here with something that should be a fairly basic fulfillment of a promise that has been made.

    When I have fulfilled my end of a business transaction by signing up for something, I expect to get the freebie right then and there. I don’t expect to wait around for it. If I don’t get it, then I think something has gone wrong.

    I realize there may be some added benefit by getting your name across to the customer a few more times, but at what cost?

    Have we gotten so technically formula driven today that we can’t simply give someone what they want when they want it?

  11. Jonathan;

    I think the key here is a FREE product, not something that was purchased.

    Although you as a consumer want it now, I argue that it does not benefit the business or individual that is providing you the free white paper or e-product.

    If done correctly, you will not create any angst with consumers and you will benefit you business more.

  12. I don’t believe the benefits one would get by delaying a transaction. I sell natural history posters for a living, not white papers and copywriting services.

    But I write a personal note back to customers who somehow find me online saying thanks. And I find the best marketing is a combination of email and phone follow up.

    I have a hard time believing you’re making much money or building enough relationships with key people — because the root of your delay is a manipulation — it seems dishonest.

    If you are busy with your work– there will be plenty of real live reasons you have delayed getting your customers what they order.

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt because you are on Brian Clark’s blog —

    I would take all the comments in and rewrite instead of defend.
    Just my two cents and 10 years at Good Nature.

    Timothy

  13. Mike,

    Yes, I understand what you are advocating is a FREE product verses a purchase. The issue here is one of honoring an basic agreement.

    If the terms were that by signing up for a newsletter, that person would get something, I think that “thing” should be sent after the user has fulfilled their end of the bargain and signed up.

    My point is that there may be some additional angst created with the customer that will outweigh the benefits of exposure that you have described.

    While no one may have sent you an e-mail message indicating that they are unhappy with the additional wait, the mixed reaction on this post indicates that many may have felt that way and not told you so.

    Of course, I could be wrong here. As I said before, I’m a simple “old-school” man.

    Jonathan

  14. Hey Tim;

    I am a “discussion blogger.”

    I like interacting.

    I think there is great value in interacting via email and phone with prospects and I do this regularly.

    It has been my experience that many people use ebooks and white papers as a way to “nurture” leads before they are really ready to buy.

    This model would not apply at all for any sort of purchase or even an inquiry to purchase.

    It is most effective when you are offering some “info product” that is desired AND a sample is revealed on a web page.

    Here is another example in action: http://www.vistaprintsmallbusiness.com/

    All my best :)

  15. Personally, I don’t think asking for information this soon is a good strategy.

    However, if you’re going to ask for personal information you might as well use it, although, the delay thing seems a bit too sneaky.

  16. It’s an interesting refinement to online fulfillment, though — if you’re not trying to cross-sell other services — I’d have to see the utility of it.

    The post-reg “Thank You” page is a given, as is the Thank You e-mail (I use both as a matter of course for my corporate clients).

    What’s new is the next e-mail and the delay, and I’m ambivalent. My gut feeling? Once someone takes the plunge, I’d rather get the document into their hands right away.

    What if the one-hour delay means they’ve gone home? By the next morning, they’re onto something else. Or lunch. Or whatever.

    It’s an idea that’s ripe for conjecture, but it’s also one that would benefit greatly from a little testing.

    In the absence of real data, I could argue both sides, and that just makes me crazy(er).

  17. Hey Folks;

    I should have added this to the article.

    Here is a case study that was done with VistaPrint.

    They were able to get 5000 registrations in 2 months with a 10% conversion rate—one of the highest they had.

    In this case, the message was delayed 6 hours that included the actual requested document.

    See http://www.whitepapersource.com/marketing/casestudy-vistaprint.html

  18. Hi Michael

    I don’t think people are doubting the short term effect (I’m not, anyways). But most people I know who writes eBooks are in it for the long haul.

  19. Great post, Michael!

    Ultimately, the ‘answer’ to this model would be to simply TEST IT. Run some A/B split-tests (carefully tracking down to the exact keyword which can skew the results; i.e. very qualified lead vs. unqualified lead) and see which model creates the highest return.

    Being able to have additional touch points is certainly powerful, but if they aren’t being effectively monetized then they ‘might’ do more harm than good; i.e. frustrating the prospect. So testing the actual net gains and losses in comparisons to the number of touch points, upsell/bumps, etc. will surely produce the ‘winning’ model that creates the highest average visitor value.

    I think one of the most important elements in all of marketing is being touched on by this post…

    ANTICIPATION.

    I wrote about this in a report in 2004. I believe anticipation is the most powerful weapon in all of marketing.

    People are becoming bored, numb, and almost trance-like when it comes to navigating the vast amount of information that is freely available in today’s networked society and our beloved friend, The Internet.

    And there are many reasons they are bored offline as well. Human beings live life in ontinuing cycles. Wake up, drive to work, count the minutes till you can leave work, drive home, relax for a few, go to bed, prepare to start the cycle again.

    I think the ‘brain’ naturally knows it has nothing to LOOK FORWARD TO. That this cycle will continue to repeat for the majority of the time in that person’s life.

    BUT…

    When there IS the opportunity to look forward to something, it breaks the cycle. Because it’s a “future point in time” that someone has not yet experienced by KNOWS will be outside of the cycle.

    Sorry for getting all psycho-babbly…

    Anyway… ANTICIPATION has been a marketing weapon for years because of all these reasons.

    Movie Industry — we anxiously wait months (sometimes over a year) to see a big budget movie that we’ve heard has been in the work. Same with DVD releases. Always with a launch date set well in advance.

    Music Industry — new albums always go through a pre-launch cycle to build that anticipation. For months the buzz builds and people get that “I can’t wait to buy it the day it comes out” mentality.

    Car Industry — they release ‘spy’ photos on purpose. They preview ‘future’ car models at big car shows that may never go into production. Yet they use those futuristic models to keep a small slice of ‘mindshare’ in a prospects mind — so they won’t forget that maybe, just maybe, Lexus will someday release that super cool, all aluminum car; and I’ll keep an eye out for it even if it never comes.

    Computers — Apple… Jobs is the master of anticipation. Apple does a great job of ‘leaking’ info, setting up their press announcements, blowing people away with pieces of valuable information that were planning on (i.e. at MacWorld keynotes) which only fuels the fire of the anticipation for the ‘thing.’

    Look no further than the iPhone for one of the most powerful ‘anticipation’ marketing campaigns ever.

    And there are many more examples. I just wanted to express that I really feel that if you can make a prospect anticipate something from you, rather than that instant gratification, it has a much more powerful effect…

    The bottom line, “anticipation” does one thing and does one thing well… IT INCREASES RESPONSE.

    And that’s the name of the game.

    (Sorry for the novel.)

    ~John

  20. Michael,

    You’re handling this discussion quite tactfully. You’ve done a thorough job of explaining your stance here, even if some from the microwave, drive-thru, remote control generation don’t “instantly” get it. (if anybody takes offense to this comment, please wait an hour to post your reply)

    Regards
    Shane

  21. The bottom line, “anticipation” does one thing and does one thing well… IT INCREASES RESPONSE.

    And that’s the name of the game.

    (Sorry for the novel.)

    ~John

    Mr. Reese de-lurks at last! Excellent commentary John, and welcome. ;)

    Shane, it’s always good to see you too. But didn’t we sell Tubetorial? :)

  22. Yeah, but I don’t have name recognition outside of the Tubetorials I made, so I have to use it like a middle-aged man talking about his highschool football career at a bar.

    I’m working on it, though.
    :)
    Shane

  23. Having undergone this exact thing earlier this week, I can only assure you that this person’s/website’s emails are being deleted immediately. I found it annoying, especially the one the next day with the subject “Did you read your X yet?”. BAH!

    If your product is good enough, it will stick in my mind. I don’t need you to try to superglue it there for me. In the instance of this ‘whitepaper’ I downloaded, the contect was mediocre and repetitive at best, and didn’t warrant remembering. By sending me email after email, this site keeps reminding me why the experience was bad and pushing me closer and closer to sharing the whole experience with my online community.

    Long story short: I’m sure this can be effective if you have a truly amazing bit of something to share, but if you are anything short of amazing it does nothing but alienate and annoy prospective customers.

  24. Tina – Not sure who are you are talking about.

    But I agree there should be no further followup after the document is delivered.

    I really dislike the endless auto-responses that many people use.

  25. My first response when I started reading this was “What the … what’s this garbage on here?!”.

    As I got into the touch points I could see the value of it. I’ve actually been waiting for something and felt the “anticipation” of an hour (gotta love the internet. Where an hour is a lifetime).

    John Reese hit the nail on the head about anticipation.

    It’s just like driving home with your brand new laptop in the back seat, just itching to get back and power ‘er up.

  26. I think it’s important to keep in mind that during every moment of a marketing process something is happening…

    A value exchange.

    A marketer must always provide more value in every exchange that takes place. Especially when the trade is for something the prospect values almost more than anything…

    THEIR ATTENTION.

    Some of Tina’s points are extremely valid… at any point in the process if it breaksdown and the prospect feels like they got the worst end of the deal for the ‘attention currency’ they invested, then you’re doomed.

    Michael – would you still hate the further follow-up if the one I sent you contained this upcoming weekend’s winning lottery numbers? :)

    People only dislike parts of marketing when that attention exchange is one-sided (marketer). At any point in time if they truly feel they are getting more value than what they feel their attention is worth, most people quickly forget it’s even “marketing.”

    ~John

  27. John – Thanks for your brilliance.

    The point of my strategy is to squeeze acceptable touch points into a “reasonable” period of time.

    I also agree that you need to always deliver value, NOT sales messages.

    I ask folks if they want to get my newsletter.

    When they say yes (about 60%), I deliver a high-value newsletter. My open rates are about 60 percent when they get that 3 days latter.

    But it only comes if they opt-in to the newsletter.

    Otherwise, I bank on the white paper to deliver the value.

    Mike

  28. @ Michael – I personally wouldn’t like this model to be used on me, but I’m one, squirrely voice in the wilderness.

    I’m a marketer and a salesman, so you know I’m ADD and will only want the info for a few minutes and then I’ll be off to another place in my little world.

    And for me, the pay off isn’t big enough to warrant the hoops.

    It’s also not “pure” sales, if that makes any sense. To me, it’s manipulation, but again, that’s just me.

    Like John said, the value exchange must be greater than the price I pay and a simple white paper/ebook ain’t gonna cut it for me to give that much attention, that many times, for that length of time.

    I’d go away … quickly and maybe loudly, but I’m a biased, old school, sales guy.

    A lot of commenters here aren’t “pure” sales types, as in, they don’t make their living making sales face-to-face each and every day, so they can only guess about what actually works.

    When I hit CLICK HERE, I’m in the mood for love, but 1 to 6 hours from now I could be in a different state … literally, physically and geographically, so you better kiss me while I’m hot and bothered.

    There are trains, airplanes, coffee cafes, hot spots and such out there, you know, we don’t all sit in front of a computer at home all day.

    Like John said ( I hate quotin’ you Reese, so quit being right ), you need to really test and track it, because although you may be successful, in your eyes, you may actually be getting a smidgen of the possibles to opt in.

  29. Hi Michael and Brian,

    When I see the copyblogger logo in my inbox, I’m already anticipating that I will find some really valuable nuggets that I can use that day – even though, personally, I don’t write that much copy.

    As both an entrepreneur and mother of two young children, I understand only too well the value of (and difficulty in creating!) delayed gratification. So your practical suggestions are useful. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to spreading out customer contact points over time in my businesses, and it’s something I actually appreciate as a customer when I see it done well elsewhere. For example, I like the fact that Sterling and Jay of Internet Business Mastery podcast fairly irregularly, don’t waste my time and mental capacity with rubbish fillers, but when they do post a podcast, I’m already anticipating that it will be brilliant. Clearly, great quality and an appreciation of what is of value to your customer are givens here.

    Psychobabble aside, there is a very good reason why my children’s pester power is running out of steam (though not fast enough!), customers respond more positively to what they anticipate they will value, and Pavlov’s dogs salivated at the sound of a bell.

    Cheers,
    Ronna

  30. I think the hour delay is a big mistake.

    If I was searching the web looking for how to write a white paper, I’d be delighted to find your meta-white paper. I’d be likely to jump through hoops to get to it. I’d be braced for a few e-mails, and I’d have some expectation of SPAM as a result.

    If the paper was not forthcoming shortly thereafter (say, 5 minutes, MAX), I’d assume you’d cheated me, that my address had been sold, and any provisional confidence I might have had in the site would be gone.

    I would then Google for other information on writing white papers.

    By the time your gift arrived, I probably would have read 10 other sites, used the information to start my draft white paper.

    When I get around to reading it (because my need is less urgent, now that I’ve found the competing info elsewhere), I’m likely negatively predisposed to it. It will be compared to the information already received.

    Even if your paper were published before the others, to me it will seem derivative.

    It had better be the best meta-white paper every written, because it will have to make up for the momentum you stole from it.

    This would be subconscious on my part, not deliberate.

    You’ve made me jump through hoops and I complied. Making me wait will make your content have to jump through hoops to impress me.

  31. Actually, Michael, I think this only works for those “much-hyped” stuff like the Apple iPhone or anything similar. Or, some other thing with something controversial.

    For ebooks and all, this might not work. For example, if I opted for a free ebook of some kind without much buzz, and if I’m not getting right away, I’d say “Ahh well !! Thats that. Who wants to waste precious time for that crap anyway ?!”.

    And, about “Gate it away”, I think its one of those old-school marketing techniques. We see it everyday but I normally wont care much (if the stuff wasn’t up to my expectation).

  32. Mike (Simplenomics) – You bring up some excellent points. I have had this model setup about 3 years. Back in the day, when autoresponders were less common, I actually had an email filter setup in my inbox.

    When the messages came in (and I had my inbox open), the 2nd message with the paper would send out as they came in. This was between a 10 minute delay and a weekend delay.

    I used to get many messages each day asking where the heck my paper was.

    In my case, I provide a lot of the content right there on the screen. Folks do not even realize they needed to register to get the rest UNLESS they read what was presented and happened to get below the bottom of the screen. By this time, they are already hooked by what was written and want more.

    The anticipation of wanting to finish what they started has created a unique situation where a reasonable wait actually helped in my case.

    I will attempt to run some future tests on 10-minute delays vs. hour delays and see what happens as far as response.

    – Mike

  33. Usually when I purchase something or download a free file on the internet I’m doing it because I’m in a hurry for the item. That’s the beauty of the internet – instant gratification. If I had an hour to spare waiting for something like a white paper I’d go to the bookstore, find something on the same topic and purchase it there. Wouldn’t some follow-up emails work better? Perhaps something along the line of: so how did you like that white paper on white papers. You could write the white paper in such a manner as to create more interest in your services. Or you could write a paper that was so damn great that I followed up on other services because I was so impressed. Making me wait and hour for something unecessarily will not impress me.

    Kathleen

  34. I think the timeframe here is important. Peronally, I want the white paper right away so I can do with it what I choose. I do not want emails during an hour interval waiting period. Truthfully, now that I know your strategy, I dislike it; if I had signed up and unwittingly had to go through your emails it may not have had a negative effect.

    I agree with John Reese, TEST IT. It goes beyond conversion though, will the consumer enjoy your company and white paper more for making them wait? Probably not. Will they notice the time it took? Maybe. Will they like the emails you send them that DON’T DELIVER? Um…?

    Anticipated, relevant and personal. It’s close, but I’m not sure the consumer is anticipating communique without the actual white paper. I would not use this as a marketing tactic. I would use one email with the white paper and other offerings concurrently.

  35. I’m a psychologist by trade so this Internet business is new to me. So I had to reflect back on the numerous white papers I’ve downloaded to see how I felt about the delayed ones. I can’t say whether I valued them more than the ones I got quickly as I can’t recall. However, I had a better feeling when it was delayed. And here’s why. Typically, when I signed up, it was an impulsive action. The delay actually gave me time to read over the rest of the copy and to digest it more fully. I then more confident at judging the paper when it did arrive.
    I’m going to do this for my own eCourses and Newsletters but I’m also doing it for another very good reason that hasn’t been mentioned yet.
    The fast pace of the Internet is actually contributing to the problems we’re seeing in high rates of ADD and anxiety (people zoning out is a symptom of that). Let me explain. ADD and anxiety can be described as response patterns in the nervous system. Over the course of the day, we tend to get more and more wound up. When the user gets the paper instantly, there’s no pause in this pattern. The individual’s nervous system continues to climb to high levels of hyperarousal. However, providing a break in the fast pace of Internet surfing gives the nervous system time to reset. You’re actually helping people by not providing information instantly. If you want to learn more, I wrote about “Interrrupting the Procedure” on my site: http://www.myshrink.com/the-stress-response.php.

  36. Dr. LaCombe – Wow, thanks for your valuable insight in this matter.

  37. Dr. LaCombe,

    I think that’s the biggest bunch of psycho-babble I have ever heard.

    Lots of us experience anxiety every day for a number of reasons. To lump ADD (a clinical disorder) into the same sentence as anxiety and then to use it as a justification to delay the receipt of promised marketing deliverable, is one of the reasons that your profession is viewed with a high degree of skepticism by common folk such as me.

    This is yet another example of how a college education has twisted rational thought.

    Jonathan

  38. WOW, this post has really stirred up quite a bees nest. After reading all the replies. One thing becomes very obvious, you can tell who the testers are and who just have opinions.
    The purpose of promotion any promotion for that matter is to drive more traffic and people at a website than can be fended off with at gun point.
    In this case using a white paper to create leads.
    If the promotion is done correctly and the anticipation has been created by the marketer, then waiting for some you REALLY want is of the desired created reaction.
    Remember the purpose of an executive is to find a need or create a need and fill that need.
    John layed out some great examples in the market place where this is done expertly.
    Unfortunately the “net” has created a sense of instant
    gratification “I have no idea what I want and I want it now” and when you don’t saitisfy that well then you have problems.
    Which goes back to what John had to say about about the Attention Currency” (great term by the way). How this gets abused is by subscribing for a “white Paper” and once you get it, you get endless other “offers”. Theres no value created and no relationships being fostered between the two parites in this. You agrred to have a certain prduct delivered and once you get why other offers? Again I have the power to decide to unsubscribe and I do just that when that relationship has been violated.
    If I determine that the product in question is worth waiting for I’ll wait. I recently ordered for a new lap top. Not a run of the run mill lap top but something more less custom, 17 inch monitor, dual core processor maxed out vid card and full keyoard. I had to wait over a month for it. I was quite content to do so. WHY because it was something I valued some thing that met my needs. A need that was created in me and it took time to fulfill. (maybe it didnt really need to take all that time) get the point.
    I think the problem with the give it away is if there really isnt much value. Doesnt really fulfill a nknowledge gap or isnt instantly useable than it is going to fall apart. How many Freebies are out there That I have dumped after just scanning it, but i I payed for it you wanna bet Im going to use it. Again its a value judgement.
    There is a fine line with this approach and it should be tested before being judged as in-effective.
    Again John has the most salient advice and approach to this. I believe he uses this method. somewhat and very well.

  39. Hey Doc – That’s a croc-o-crapola !

    Anticipation, especially in the sense that the maestro, John Reese, spoke of, is built up over a LONG period of time, such as his movie case study or new album case study, NOT, I repeat, NOT after the CLICK HERE experience.

    Anticipation of those long awaited events is a real and tangible emotion.

    Anticipation of a white paper that’s expected to be instantly delivered and isn’t is really called FRUSTRATION !

  40. Great discussion everyone!

    I think there are two things that have created the adverse response with this strategy:

    #1 – Sending a “Thanks for registering” message right away and then the actual message later has created the most stir. This extra message seems to create a negative feeling in readers here. Although in reality it might not cause that kind of response when you experience it, just revealing the strategy has created a real negative reaction. This has caused me to run some tests by omitting this registration message. I will see what happens.

    #2 – The idea that anything but instant delivery is “unacceptable.” However, I think this is less objectionable to folks if the message does show up in a reasonable period of time (10 mins/15 mins/ 60 mins/ …).

    I would encourage everyone to run some experiments with the portion of the strategy you find worth testing. Let’s keep the dialog live.

  41. How ot improve your image by not putting every sentence into another paragraph.

  42. Michael Stelzner,

    You make a persuasive case with this post, but it lost credibility with me at the very beginning when you quoted M. Scott Peck.

    Peck had a bizarre personal interpretation of Christianity, which he made the cornerstone of his psychiatric practice.

    I was astonished when I read his book, People of the Lie, in which he describes cases where he diagnosed patients as ‘”evil”.

    One case stood out– he decided that a patient was possessed by a demon.

    Even more weird, he came to this conclusion by observing that she loved dark, overcast, drizzly days, and that she whistled on such days as she approached his office.

    I thought to myself, “Maybe she’s Irish.”

    I enjoyed reading your post, and the following discussion, but you’ll never convince me of anything by citing an M. Scott Peck book.

    I diagnose him as a deceased nut case.;-)

  43. Hi Vince;

    Thanks for your comments.

    I can’t speak for the man’s theology, but I think he is onto something with the concept of delayed gratification.

    I was not aware he claimed to be a Christian.

    Mike

  44. It’s always difficult to summarize scientific research without oversimplifying. When there’s no space or time to disclose details of experimental conditions and limitations, you always run the risk of people reading too much (or too little) into your assertions. I always try to be as succinct as possible without misleading my readers, but if I sometimes fall short I welcome the chance to expand and elaborate the statement in question.

    So when I suggested “helping people” I meant helping them to understand your webpage content. For instance, showing lots of white space and including images in your copy help the visitor absorb the information. In the same way, providing little time-outs for users can help them keep focused on the points you’re trying to get across.

    The over-stimulation of the Internet can flood all of us, no matter what we suffer from. We get activated. This causes people to zone out in front of the computer screen, or feel either “wired” or tapped out by the end of a normal working day. Those who suffer from ADD, anxiety (a defining feature in several clinical disorders) and even depression are especially vulnerable to this effect.

    I do have a couple cautionary notes.

    Pausing (or being delayed involuntarily) affects different people in different ways. Here’s one explanation. If you’ve ever been fidgety–maybe your leg is swinging furiously or your fingers are tapping incessantly–then you might remember what it felt like to force yourself to stop. (Maybe someone noticed you or asked you to stop.) The energy quickly backs up and very soon you’re frustrated and/or agitated. You want to get going again. I’m suggesting this is what it might feel like for users who want to get the information NOW.

    If a highly-activated website visitor suspects that you’re withholding information for your own benefit they might blame you for those feelings. Your site presentation may not have caused their irritability but it certainly could trigger it. That’s a lot of animosity that will be thrown your way.

    I imagine however, that you don’t let your users know.

    So, I’m curious if you have tested for, or considered, how it affects long-term loyalty. I’ve seen research turn out to be the complete opposite with a little more depth. That is, CTR is high and maybe even the conversion is good–at least initially. However, they don’t come back for your next–often higher priced–offering.

    BTW, if you want to know more about activation go here (http://www.myshrink.com/counseling-theory.php?t_id=61).

  45. Wow, great discussion here. I believe that one issue creeping in is the distinction between static and dynamic thinking. I think some of us are attempting to identify what this technique IS… i.e., good, bad, crappola, effective, etc. VERSUS what it DOES… i.e., create anticipation, creates a feeling of manipulation, etc.

    From a dynamic perspective, I can see that the technique could create anticipation in some cases… and a feeling of being manipulated in others.

    As has been said… test it.

    Also, another dynamic that comes into play, I believe, is your own personal strategy. Some of us are in markets where relationship-building is the bulk of our sale process. Maybe, we’re selling high-priced products or residual services. Creating relationships is paramount… and possibly creating a feeling of manipulation in our prospective clients might not be the best strategy.

    For others of us, we’re in more transactional type markets… where we are simply exchanging value for value. And, while relationships are always important, they’re not as paramount… so, creating anticipation may be the way to go to get the increased immediate response.

    I think the key is to look at your market and look at your long-term strategy. Are you creating strong relationships with a few people to generate revenue… or, are you creating transactional relationships with numerous people to generate revenue.

    And, will this technique enable you to achieve your long-term strategy?

    Finally, I believe we can all have opinions on anything and those opinions either lead us to act or not. I believe it’s important to look within and see if we are just rationalizing non-action… or, if we are truly honoring our core values and working toward our long-term strategy.

  46. John – Thanks for your comment.

    I think your point about those hawking info products are really the best audience for this strategy.

    Mike

  47. I read the article and much like alot of the comments, I was a little hesitant to implement because it seemed to be bordering unethical. Then I thought about it a little more and decided that in his given situation there isn’t anything wrong with it.
    His first touch point was a thank you page. This is after the sign-up and the form had been sent. It is not required to read, and on the submission of every form, you’ll have to direct the client somewhere. Might as well be a thank you page.

    His second touch point is a thank you email and could be considered spam. It is not an ongoing spam attack, it is partly related to something you’ve signed up for, and you signed up for free so one spam message should be bearable. In addition it could also inform the reader that their desired newsletter/white paper/report/whatever will take awhile, but will come within an hour. This way its not spam at all but reassurance
    Third contact point is the email contains the link, but is an hour late. I think this problems arise on this one depends on the thing being signed up for. If it is an informative report then there is no hurry, but something like medical information, then it does become unethical. This one is basically relative to what is being given away.

    I think the real issue to worry about is whether or not this is wise not ethical. I, personally, think it is a good idea. Its not intrusive. Two of the touch points can easily be ignored and the other two are required and expected.

  48. Nice quote from Peck. I wonder how many here have actually read that book. It was a NY Times best seller.

    Everyone here is talking about users/leads as if they are all the same, when in truth, different content attracts different users with different levels of sophistication about different topics. Just like everything in life, each situation is unique.

    Your offering will in large part determine the takers of the offering. Your offering and marketing will determine what type of approach is acceptable, delayed gratification or instant.

    If you are marketing yourself as an expert consultant and/or your users are largely ignorant of the white paper subject, this approach could be more effective. If your offering is fleshing out a subject that users are already familiar with, then delaying gratification will likely result in the user going elsewhere.

    The number of properly marketed competitors that are easily sought out by your users will also have a tremendous effect on how acceptable this process is.

    “Now, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum,
    What might be right for you, may not be right for some. “

  49. Great post, Michael!

    Who’d of thought such a simple yet effective idea would stir up such an emotional response!? ;0)

    Though I have to say that I agree with John Reese (and a couple of others), ”TESTING IS ALWAYS KEY”, but my gut reaction is that utilising the ‘ANTICIPATION’ element will definitely work in more cases than it fails.

    Mike, ROI is of course an essential component and I’d be very keen to see the results of your test of ‘sending out the registration message v not sending out the registration message’.

    I’ve implemented this strategy on two of my sites today and will post the results as soon as they’re available. (Does this count as anticipation!? ;0)

    ~ Pete

  50. Really informative article, it helped me a lot, had to come back a few times and readi it again. keep up the good work, thanks

  51. Good thoughts. I´m not sure though whether gating away is better than giving away…. Maybe combination of the two is best ;-)