Marketing is inherently selfish. However, if it’s done right, the potential customer shouldn’t ever notice that.

I recently fell victim to one gym’s selfish marketing when, on a rare urge to get fit, I was researching gyms.

Here’s what happened:

1. I stopped by on a Tuesday afternoon to tour the facility and see if they were running any specials. I couldn’t take a peek or talk to anyone without an appointment. Strike one.

2. After a little phone tag, I had to schedule an appointment for the following week. My motivation to get fit was starting to wane. Strike two.

3. When I arrived for my appointment, I had to fill out 3 pages of my health history and goals before I could even see the facility or talk to anyone! Strike 3, I’m outta here.


I Get It

I’m a marketer, so I understand the importance of collecting personal information from prospects. But there’s an appropriate time and place to do that. Asking for too much too soon turns people off. And that means losing business.

If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, hopefully you’re more accommodating to your prospects than that gym was to me.

But what about your website? Are you selfish online?


Ecommerce Selfishness

When someone buys something on your ecommerce site, there’s an opportunity for future business. And since they’re showing interest in your products now, it’s logical that they might want to hear about specials or new products down the road.

However, don’t go for that kill right off the bat. Right now, they just want to buy something.

Let them.

Do NOT force them to register for an account first so you can follow up with them later, like this 2-part process that brings the transaction momentum to a screeching halt:


I’ll checkout as a guest and hopefully be on my way.


image003I guess “Guest Checkout” was a lie. I’m forced to register.


When customers have their credit card in their hot little hand, get out of the way and let them give you their money. Ask for their email address as part of the checkout process, when they’re entering other contact info, such as their name, address, credit card, etc.

Let them create an account using the information they just entered – but make account registration a benefit to them, where they can track shipping or reorder quickly. Not so you can clog their inboxes.

Your primary goal is to make it fast and easy for them to buy something on your site. After that has been accomplished and their needs have been met, you can go for secondary goals, such as:



-Register for an account

-Subscribe to your newsletter

-Follow you on social media

-Share their purchase socially


Lead Gen Selfishness

There are two golden rules for forms on lead gen sites:

1. The amount of information you ask for has to be directly proportional to what you’re offering in return.

If you’re offering a whitepaper that they can download (barf!), there’s no reason in their mind that you need to know their job title, company name, size, etc. People know that you could let them download it directly from your site without making them give up any personal information at all.

If you’re using this as a lead gen tool, you ask for their email address in order to send them the whitepaper. But that’s it. You don’t get to ask for anything else. You’re already pushing it.

On a site (which I will not name in order to protect the guilty), I entered my email address here:


And was taken here:


All this just to get your newsletter?


That’s asking WAY too much information in exchange for getting their newsletter.

However, if you’re giving them a health insurance quote, for example, it’s to your prospect’s benefit to give you their medical information so you can give them a more accurate quote. In that case, you can – and should – ask for more information.


2. Ask questions in the order people want to answer them

The point of this lead gen site was to get people to request a quote:


Using Lucky Orange to see where people were clicking and typing, I could see that people didn’t want to enter their contact information. But they did want to talk about their needs:


We reordered the questions so people could get their questions off their chest right away, before entering their contact information:


Notice that we also reduced the number of questions we asked, to get the minimum amount of information the sales team needed in order to follow up.

This (along with a few other changes to the page, such as adding credentials and social proof, and removing visual distraction), resulted in 71% more people filling out the form in an A/B test. Booyah!

On a lead gen site, create your forms so your visitors’ needs are met first. You have to earn the right to ask for information about them.

…unless, of course, a phone call is more valuable to you than a form submission. In that case, make your forms hard to fill out and encourage people to call you, instead.

Coloring Book or Page Cartoon Illustration Set of Black and White Funny People Emotions or Expressions for Children

You sneaky devil, you!



“So Did You Ever Get in Shape, or What?”

Yeah, about that gym membership: after annoying me with their mandatory three pages of paperwork before walking me through the gym, THEY NEVER FOLLOWED UP! So they lost my business by requiring me to fill out their paperwork, for absolutely no reason.

This is a classic case of miscommunication between sales and marketing: the marketing team tells sales that they need to collect information from prospects, but that information goes into a file in someone’s drawer and neither department uses it.

Sadly, it doesn’t take much for me to find an excuse not to work out. That gym gave me just the excuse I needed, so I went home, sat on the couch and ate a donut.

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Theresa Baiocco is the Founder of Conversion Max, which helps mid-sized businesses increase their online revenues with Conversion Optimization. She has a Master's Degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado in Denver, a Master Certification in Conversion Optimization from Market Motive, and she's a Google AdWords Qualified Individual. She's also a dog-lover and a travel junkie.