My own piece of the Internet


When I was at Uni there was always “that class”. It was the class with the interesting name like “Sex and Politics” but was really about obscure French theory and the heterogenity of Southern Pacific political parties in the pre-war period.

That’s right, boring!!

I had the same experience the other day when I downloaded an eBook.

It made my blood boil that I had provided my contact information on the promise of receiving something really interesting and useful.

Sadly, it was neither.

Having been disappointed how likely am I to buying the service?

I subscribe to a lot of Internet marketing type, SEO, ecommerce and related services and cannot open my email without being assaulted by emails promising 3 Quick Tips, The 7 Rules Of Engagement and Make Her Big Happy.

The last email I expect. It is clearly spam and I know to ignore it (for now).

What frustrates me is the profusion of guides and white-papers that are really spam masquerading as something useful; kinda like how KFC masquerades as corn fed organic free-range chicken.

I have decided to call it Spamducation.

The problem is that the core goal for many white-papers and guides is not informing and engaging buyers, it is generating leads. This leads to compelling headlines and disappointing content written by amateurs or second-rate copywriters.

What would be great is actionable or useful information that cannot be easily found in a Google search. Without that the eBook business is really just a cynical lead generation exercise.

So before you write a guide or white paper to generate leads consider the following:

Are you qualified?

Do you know enough about what you are writing about? If not then find someone who does. Your brand will be damaged by inaccurate information and your customers will lose trust.

Is the topic right for your buyers?

Knowing what you know about your customers, is the topic relevant?

How does it relate to their tasks and objectives in relation to your products and services?

If it is relevant then write your guide or white-paper. If not, you need to start again.

Is it really valuable for your buyers?

Are you presenting old information in a new way, new information in a new way, or old information in an old way?

What problem are you solving? If what you’re doing is the same old stuff then stop and start again.

Is it annoying?

Your education should have actionable information so your customer can say:

“Wow! I have that exact problem and now I have a clear pathway to solving it.”

Is it lazy?

Finding information using search engines like Google is easy. So much so, that I can do a little research and trot out a plagiarised eBook, learning guide or quick tips document.

This is just lazy and purposeful plagiarism is plain wrong. If your document is inspired by someone then at least credit them. They may have worked hard and deserve some recognition.

Your education should also be unique to your customers and their place in your behavioural model. There is little point offering information about building a space ship if your customers are yet to master basic thermal dynamics.

Do you really need that email address?

This might make some marketing folks turn pale, but do you really need to collect contact information before offering the eBook download?

If the information is engaging and exciting then you will have built credibility and trust with your buyer and they will be more likely to call or email you when they’re ready to purchase.

Education tools like eBooks are a great way to build credibility with your audience, so don’t burn that trust with spamducation.

It’s corny, but I gotta do it:

“educate don’t spamducate”.

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  4. Chad

    Well, I agree about everything except the email address.

    Of course you collect an email address. An ebook giveaway shouldn’t lead to a sale, it should start a long relationship by inserting the prospect into a well-managed sales sequence of further interaction, valuable giveaways, and so forth.

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  6. Yeah, I never like, nor do I want to use (I think they call them) squeeze pages. The reverse version is good…provide some good content first, then maybe I’ll subscribe.

    I like your clarifying questions.

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  9. Chad, if it makes sense to collect the email address, then by all means ask for it and be transparent about why you’re asking for it – to send the white-paper, to send marketing content, etc.

    If the punter feels deceived they ain’t gonna buy.

    I reckon, if the content is great, it will sell effortlessly and createa scent trail so the buyer will want to call, email, tweet or wait outside your office.

    Obviously in some direct response campaigns people feel they have to demonstrate an immediate ROI or ROAS so email addresses (and other contacts) are mandatory.

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  14. Jonny

    Ok your correct, partialy.
    What you need to understand is that these whitepapers arent for you, nor are 99% of the spam and marketing material in the google ads email spam and banners over the net.
    At 1st the intener was a place of geeks sprawling on terminals, gophers, ftps and crude browsers., you needed to be realy smart if not a computer science major to understand what you see and how to get where.
    since the internet became popular and averge Joe (statisticaly half of people are dummer then him) is the new king, the rules have changed.
    You see averge Joe cand differ between a search result and a paid ad he needs to be told where to click, hes lasy and dum, he wont do anything whcih doesnt give him a n instant gratfication , he cant enter a boolean search or phrase a simple logical statment, but he got money and he likes to spend it online.
    Average Joe is the kind of person who likes informecial and buy 1 get the sun lotion guaranteed cream now! crap, not you and hes the majority and he cant reach anything in the search results of google below the fold or type any url ecept google or Gmail, hey thats why he needs that 12th spyware toolbar for.
    but he clicks and he gives hes email adress and he generates alot of cpl money.
    so next time you find yourself in scrolling down google or hit the return when you land in this ubtrusivly ugly landing page just relax and behave like your back from an anthropological experience like going to a football game.

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