We published our first of several upcoming eBooks regarding “Forced Registration” and blogged about it here on ActiveRain: http://activerain.com/blogsview/1147742/7-reasons-why-forced-registrations-will-ultimately-hurt-your-business.
Dan Quinn commented making a correlation between our message about “Why Forced Registration is Bad” to Seth Godin’s “Permission Marketing.” For those who want a brief summary of "Permission Marketing," check out this short blog post from Seth Godin: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/01/permission-mark.html.
As I started my reply to Dan, my comment quickly evolved into another blog post. So, thanks Dan for starting the next conversation.
“Turning Strangers into Friends, and Friends into Customers”
– from the cover of Permission Marketing
The essence of "Permission Marketing" is about establishing trust and the terms of a relationship between how a consumer and business engage with each other. It's about giving the consumer the opportunity to determine when they are ready to take the relationship to the next level and for the company to respect that process.
Forced Registration is a false sense of “Permission Marketing.” Some would argue that at least the consumer has given you “permission” to engage by filling out a registration form. However, this request for that permission is made before the consumer knows what exactly the goods or quality of service are. Forced Registration has been heavily criticized by consumers and real estate professionals alike for this reason. When asked the question, “Would you fill out your own IDX registration form to continue searching properties?” every broker and agent I’ve talked to admitted they would not. They would leave the site or provide fake information. I have yet to meet a consumer who admitted they would complete the form if forced.
Regardless, some agents still maintain that only serious buyers fill out the registration forms and anyone else would not be worth their time. This position has always baffled me. What exactly is the harm to have a visitor return to an agent’s site to search without registering? Do agents pay extra for excessive use of the search tool? Do they just want to make it difficult for the visitor? I hope neither is the case. So, what’s the harm? The upside of allowing visitors continued access to searching on your site is you may eventually win the visitor’s business at some point in the future. This can only happen if visitors are not chased away from your site.
I still question the position held by many agents that only serious buyers register. Excluding referrals and people you already know, how many registered visitors became real clients? More importantly, how many visitors that left could have become real clients? Even those “new leads” that identify themselves aren’t necessarily ready to buy now. It only proves they are willing to give their information. You may not be as special as you think because these visitors probably give every website they visit their information. These guys are no more “qualified” than the visitors that left your site. On that same token, those who left may actually be "ready and able" buyers today. However, they don’t know the “man hiding behind the curtain” well enough to reveal their identity just yet.
Most agents will assert the majority of their clients are referrals, past clients, or people they already know or have met. Very few will credit the internet as a source of new clients. Yet, statistics show more than 85% of home buyers start searching on the internet before contacting an agent. Something is wrong if agents aren’t connecting with this 85%. What’s up with that? Maybe this concept of “Forced Registration” is not working because strangers aren’t becoming friends.
What's your experience with Forced Registration? I would love to learn more from the community.
David Carroll, Founder Dude (a.k.a. CEO)