Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

White Papers, Market Engagement, and Email Discrimination

White Papers, Market Engagement, and Email Discrimination

By Dennis McDonald

I’ve had a Yahoo! email address for about ten years. Early on I started paying for it annually and have used the advertising-free paid version ever since as my main public-facing email address. It’s openly available on my website, helps control spam, rarely goes out, and I switch to it for outgoing email when Gmail is down.

Given my combined use of Yahoo! email and Gmail my spam is pretty much under control. I also have Outlook, Verizon, Comcast, and iCloud email addresses but don’t use them on a regular basis.

Why I’m writing this: occasionally I still come across a website form that rejects my Yahoo! email address. The usual offender is a vendor or vendor service dispensing access to “white papers” about which I wrote in Whitepapers need to be mobile, too. Perhaps the rationale for rejecting the Yahoo! email address is something like the following:

Anyone using a free email service and not a bona fide corporate address can’t possibly be a potential customer for our services.

I sort of understand that logic. They probably think my Yahoo! email address is “free” and therefore I am suspect as a potential customer. I am an independent consultant so, personally, I’m not going to plunk down $50K for some enterprise oriented product or service. Obviously if someone is allocating valuable staff time to following up white paper requests harvested via web forms the logic of screening out “tire kickers” early in the sales process is inescapable.

This logic may also be flawed. For example, you never know when a “white paper requester” — like me — might be in a position to recommend your product or service to a potential customer or client. So you have to weigh the costs and benefits of screening out potential influencers too early in the sales cycle.

A larger question is how you best use the web to engage with your market. Every barrier you place in the way of potential customers finding out about your products or services has the potential not only for lengthening the sales process but also for making the sales process more expensive.

My own belief is that you need to engage early and often and then use all the means at your disposal to then qualify and sell. This is one of the reasons that social media have become such an important part of marketing and sales even if incompatibilities exist between using social media and more traditional sales management models. (Regarding possible “incompatibilities” see Web 2.0 and sales process management, a research report I did several years ago for Social Media Today and Oracle.)

Not that my motives are necessarily pure. I am currently collecting “big data” related white papers in order to write on my own blog about what people are saying about their “big data” capabilities. If you do make it difficult for me to download your white paper I probably won’t write about it on my blog.

How much of a loss will that be for you? Probably not much. I’m pretty “niche” in my own publishing. I don’t think you’ll be missing out much if I don’t write about you because you don’t like my “unworthy” Yahoo! email address.

Then again, what happens if my blog post about big data white papers goes “viral”???

Copyright (c) 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald

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