Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting More Out of Each Click, Part 2: Docmetrics

It's a widespread and persistent quandary for marketers, particularly B2B marketers who use white papers as a lead generation incentive for response: on the one hand, if you place a contact form in front of your content, you'll get a very low conversion rate (on average, 95% of visitors will simply leave the site, and one-third of those who remain will enter bogus information). On the other, if you leave your PDF content open, more people will download your materials but you get no information: who are these visitors? Are they actually reading your content? Printing it? Passing it along? Leaving your content open may actually produce more leads in the long run, but you have no way to measure that with any precision (or even know for sure if that's the case).

How do you maximize the return on the investment you've made not only in producing valuable white papers and other content, but also in driving traffic to it through search engine advertising, email marketing, banner ads and other media? Particularly in this economy, when budgets are being squeezed and marketers are mandated to do more with less, how can you exceed "typical" results and get more than 2-3% of your visitors to raise their hands?

My first post on this topic looked at one possible answer, "post-click marketing" services that extract visitor IP information from your website log files, filter out ISPs and then match remaining network information to various databases to show you, in real time, who is visiting your website and what information they are viewing. Although the term "spyware" is unfair, these services still make some marketers uncomfortable as they are collecting information without the specific consent of visitors. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to get a higher percentage of visitors to voluntarily provide you with their contact information?

A unique new SaaS offering from Vitrium Systems called Docmetrics may do exactly that.

How Docmetrics Works

Once you are set up with their online service (no software to install), you upload your PDFs—white papers, case studies, product data sheets etc.—to your Docmetrics account. Next, create custom Flash forms using Docmetrics tools to collect user information. Insert these forms into your documents; for a white paper, you may want to place the form on page 2 or 3; for content you wouldn't normally "gate" with a contact form, such as a product sheet, you can put the form at the end of the document. Finally, download your PDFs with the contact forms now inserted and upload these to your website.

When a visitor comes to your site, they can download any PDF without completing an on-site contact form. When they reach the page in your PDF with the Docmetrics Flash form inserted, the form will appear asking them for their contact information. You have the option of requiring completion of the form in order to read the remainder of the document (e.g. with a white paper), or providing a "skip" button on the form so the form submission is voluntary.

On the back end, the Docmetrics system collects all activity information. Typcially, you have no idea what happens to your PDFs once they are downloaded from your website. With Documetics, you get complete tracking—number of times the document was opened, how much time was spent on each page, number of times it was forwarded, printed etc.

Why It's Cool

The folks at Vitrium claim that Docmetrics dramatically increases—by up to 10X—lead capture rates for normally gated content (such as white papers), while for the first time enabling the collection of contact information from content that isn't normally gated (e.g. product sheets and case studies).

It also, as noted above, provides activity statistics on PDF content to help marketers improve their offerings. If white paper A has a much higher pass-along rate than white paper B, and gets printed more often, and users on average spend more time with it, then...develop more content like white paper A. That kind of data has just not previously been available for PDF content.

I'm still at the stage of working with selected clients to test this technology, so I can't vouch for the increase in lead capture rates—though I plan to write a follow-up post once I have that data. For now, it's sufficient to note that if the increase in conversion rate is even 20% of what Vitrium claims, the product will pay for itself. If Docmetrics provides half the increase in conversion rate claimed, it will make you a rock star with your boss or client.

What to Watch Out For

There really doesn't appear to be much in the way of a downside to this service. It is possible that your PDFs may not display properly for prospects using older versions of Flash, although 1) this should affect only about 5% of viewers according to Vitrium, and 2) the next release, planned for February, will resolve this problem. Docmetrics offers a free trial, so it's easy to test drive the software and draw your own conclusions.

Pricing

Monthly fees start at $100 and are based on the number of PDF documents tracked. Contact Vitrium to get more exact pricing for your situation.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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