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November 22, 2010


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Steve Johnson

Just because sales and marketing people WANT this information doesn't mean that the customer wants to GIVE it. I'm reminded of the clerk at a government office who needs all those fields filled out--because they're on the form. While I'll comply with government forms, you'd probably laugh at the information I fill into mandatory fields in marketing forms.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks Steve!

I just purchased a gift card from Simon Malls. It required registration before I could give them my money. Crazy!

ian gotts

How ironic. I wanted to leave a comment, but GUESS WHAT. I have to leave my name & email address

Stuart Trier

Hi David,

I agree it is annoying to have to provide contact information to receive something of interest.

While my clients may get more people reading their content, it is harder to demonstrate value to clients that want "warm leads" in the form of people's contact information.

Just this morning one of my clients emailed me about leads he got over the weekend, asking me to make it mandatory for people to fill in their phone numbers, as he feels that if they don't provide their full contact information they are "tire kickers" and not solid leads.

We have had great success with this customer lowering customer acquisition costs by 200% in 2 months, compared to his offline marketing.

How do i show him measurable results if we don't capture contact information. The prospects entering information in the contact forms are buying his service.

Stuart Trier

E G Pursley

Hey David,

I agree! I do not mind giving my real name and my email address. But, I do not understand, if I am just gathering info to make an "informed" decision why I should provide size of company, annual revenue, or phone number (God knows we get enough inbound sales call daily as it is). Excellent point regarding approaching a stranger - had never thought of it in that light.

Perhaps, you could enlighten Mr. Zarrella at Hubspot regarding this post. I just signed up for his webinar, "The Science of Social Media Marketing 2010" and had to give all the above details and more.

Keep up the GREAT work!

Brad Shorr

David, This may be strange, but I don't mind exchanging my phone number and email online for something of interest. I've been doing it for years and am none the worse for wear. However - it drives me absolutely crazy when people ask me for my phone number in a retail store. It seems so much more intrusive.

Kenny Madden

content marketing should be renamed " lead bait" marketing :)

Ricardo Bueno

I look at A LOT of real estate blogs/websites on a daily basis. Some sites ask for a simple "Name, Email, and Number" to schedule an appointment. Others go through literally 20 fields of information just to have you contact them.

Now I get it, you're trying to pre-qualify leads, sure. No problem. Except that it is a problem to the consumer. To them, you're just putting up a barrier to communicate.


Isn't that funny. You can't escape it. Online or offline. You can't even leave a store without them asking you for your number and email address. I definitely don't want a store calling me. It's annoying enough to receive emails on my BB about new products a store is offering. Leave me alone! I almost don't want to enter a store again for the fear that they will try to ask for my information again after I've taken the time to get off of their subscribe list.

It's all about creating relationships, and that can't be achieved without communication first.

- Oliver Cheatham

David Meerman Scott

Thanks all for this discussion -- I had two speaking gigs so I was offline for a while.

Ian - this is not a lead generation device. It is a way to comment on my blog.

Stuart - I suggest a secondary offer. First thing is free with no registration. Then offer something else. Here are my thoughts (especially last paragraph).

Kenny - Ha! Good one.

E.G., Brad, Ricardo, Oliver - I always try to think of what's in it for the buyer, not what's in it for me. Good things come to those who give.


David - sometimes analogies can be illuminating. Somtimes misleading.

I'm not sure the dating analogy is illuminating in this case.

Someone has come to your website, they've looked around and found one of your valuable whitepapers you've poured a ton of effort into creating. They decide they want a copy and in return you ask for their email address.

How is this analogous to approaching someone in a bar cold and asking for their phone number?

In fact it's more like the reverse. They've come up to you in a bar, spotted an interesting book you're reading, and asked to borrow it. Do you say "sure, just take it, send it back whenever you want, I trust you". Or do you ask for some contact details.

Now that analogy is far from perfect too - but it paints a very different picture.

Yes, of course, asking for an email address will put some (many) people off. But will the increased contact with people willing to trade their email address be worth it?

It's a tough question. There's no easy or formulaic answer. And pandering to every customer desire certainly isn't the right answer - some customers don't want to pay - do we give our product away for free to keep 'em happy?

Choices like this over whether to capture an email addres or not are tough ones. They require considerable thought and preferably testing.

Those faced with these tough choices are not helped by your oversimplification and emotive-yet-misleading analogies.



David...Interesting Post

The wonderful thing about our way of life is that we all have the ability to make choices.

Whether they involve implementing our Corporate Marketing Strategies or trying to find a date, most actions center around one simple word - choices. These choices not only involve the ones we can make...they involve the choices other people have the ability to make.

I try to keep it simple - If I really want something, then I have the choice of what information I want to provide. If I am asking for too much information and people are "unwilling" to provide it, then I have the choice to ask for less information.

As with most things in life - it all comes down to "Balance." Thanks for a good post...

David Meerman Scott

Thank for jumping in Go2Mach2 - yes it is about balance.

Ian - this is a discussion that neither side can "win". I've had this debate with many. It is like evolution vs. creationism. Or here in the US it is like Republican vs. Democrat. To require an email or not is a choice.

I like to point out (in this case using the date analogy) that you can spread your ideas without asking for contact information. That will lead to more people wanting to know what you do.

Or the alternative is to ask for an email and then put the person on "a list".

I have a preference and many people who have tried my way will never go back to the old ways.

But I certainly recognize that there are other approaches to marketing. And to dating.


Tara Parks

I love this analogy. I don't understand why this concept is so hard for people to accept...and we still see even marketing companies putting road blocks between their customers and themselves.

We spend all this time developing content to establish ourselves as "thought leaders" and then we put barriers between that content and potential customers.

If we've done our jobs, the content should speak for itself. Why not let people access it easily, without the fear of being bombarded with sales calls and emails? Let the content sell for you. Wouldn't you rather be approachable and helpful, rather than pushy and sales-driven? Thanks for the post!

David Meerman Scott

Well said Tara!! Thanks!!

Bradley H. Smith

I think the type of business is a core element - or better yet, the type of audience. Requiring a "private individual" to leave a phone number on a non-https:// site will absolutely turn away registrants. Privacy AND safety.

B2B - - - Do I ever make it required on my sites? No, never. I view it as a mental barrier and it is fairly easy for a dedicated sales person to look up the number.

Personally, I always leave my BUSINESS phone, mostly as I know it will help the sales person.

David Meerman Scott

Bradley - thanks for this. Interesting to see the B2B vs. personal differences.

Ken Mears


Great post, but it still leaves the issue fairly open-ended, as much of the above comments illustrate.

Having associations with Hubspot (congrats on your new position!), I know that they have a standard form that requires multiple fields of info to register to anything from webinars to white papers (totally agree with E. G. Pursley, btw!).

I guess the only way to truly come to terms with the debate is to apply some simple A/B testing and see which one prevails???

David Meerman Scott

Ken - like I said in an earlier comment, I think it is a discussion without "winners" much like a discussion about politics or religion.

But much like those sorts of discussions, I can still be friends with those I disagree with. HubSpot is obviously very successful. Some of their content is free without registration and some requires registration.

All of mine is completely free.


Hello David,

I've been following your work and ideas for some time (love World Wide Rave), and also I follow Hubspot as well.

I know that you work with Hubspot a lot, and therein lies my question.

Hubspot requires contact info for nearly all of their marketing kits and papers, and I know they are quite successful.

What is your take on this?

Either way, I know that both of you have done quite well in spreading your ideas.

Pablo Edwards

I love the analogy... it really is out of bounds for companies to hound customers when it is put that way!

David Meerman Scott

Reubenrail - The HubSpot approach and my approach are different. We have both achieved success with our styles of engagement.

I'm hoping to do a "Point / Counterpoint" with HubSpot to get this debate out into the open. Stay tuned.


Ash - SEO Sydney

In addition to that there's a basic formula. You need to write a good copy which is already tested and which can work for you. I see some people actually fail at testing what works and what not.

Kevin Cullis

Yep, would you walk up to a person and say, "Would you marry me?" It's the old ABC of selling: Always Be Closing. I've changed the ABC to Always Be Charming. Has a better ring to it.


David, you may have had to register with Simon because they got ripped in the media and were chased by AG's over their policies. I'm sure they now want a paper trail in case anything happens.

Ari Herzog

Have you heard of mailinator? Check out http://mailinator.com. You can create -- on the fly, on any web form -- a dummy email address, e.g. stupidman@mailinator.com, then you go to the site, type in that username to log in, and you can see the emails you get.

No passwords, no unique addresses, yet you can still get the link via the email it sends. You can't access attachments but so much is free.

Troon Homes

I think that if a website has contact forms they should be short and not require too much personal information but if a potential client wants to be contacted or has questions that need to be answered then it is crucial that you have an easy way for them to contact you.


These all are one of the great post it still leaves the issue fairly open-ended, as much of the above comments illustrate.


These choices not only involve the ones we can make...they involve the choices other people have the ability to make. These all things are great to know about it.

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