The US National Guard makes a mess of conversion

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“I really want to download that song,” my anti-war teenager whispered to me in the darkened theater. We were watching the (almost mandatory) music video about the National Guard that is showing here in the US on every screen, before every movie, it seems.

“Don’t you care that it’s about the US military?” I whispered back, incredulously.

“No,” she whispered in reply, “I just care that 3 Doors Down did it.”

Today is the end of the holiday weekend, and as she was getting ready to go back to school, I asked her if she had downloaded it. “I didn’t,” she answered, “They wanted my name and my email address. I’m just the right age, I’m sure they’ll try to recruit me. I’ll get a ton of spam from them.” I pointed out that she could easily just create an alternative email account and not worry about the spam. Which is exactly what she did.

The National Guard is really foolish. They have spent an incredible amount of money getting a truly great music video on movie screens nationwide. But instead of putting a wall in front of it (stopping lots and lots of people), they should give it away without asking for names. And they should make not just the music, but also the video, available for download (I only found the streaming video available.) It’s a great recruiting piece, and instead of stopping the conversion, they should let people take it and watch it and watch it. Isn’t that what you want, all your potential customers putting your advertising on their iPods? The US National Guard has that opportunity, but left as it is – email address required – lots of people will just leave the page (I’d like to see that page’s exit rate – I notice that they use Google Analytics), and plenty of others will just use an alternate address. One they will never look at again.

Now, that would make a great split test – because all that should matter is whether they get enough recruits…

Our owner and CEO, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics twelve years ago. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a recent Diamond Award for business leadership. You should read her letter before you decide to work with us.

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  • http://www.acteva.com Greg Moore

    Wow this seems controversial. Just give the white paper away, no strings attached.

    The idea of A/B testing this made me double check and you can do it even if you’re “just” using Google Analytics. 😉 You can see goal conversions for any page, so you could: (1) See if a higher percentage of people will download if no personal info is required, and, (2) With a dedicated Thank You page you could see conversion rates for this approach.

    I wonder how often people try this no-strings download approach and where it works best.

  • http://www.lunametrics.com Robbin

    MarketingSherpa did a piece on this a while ago, and I would link to it if I could find it easily. It was about Red Hat, the Linux company, I think they found that ten times as many people downloaded their whitepapers when no registration was required, and they also knew (and maybe the National Guard doesn’t know) that their whitepapers sell their products. Maybe the National Guard has to figure that out first.

  • Navalav8r

    This was the coolest music video I have EVER seen. EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN should have to see this video every single time they watch a movie.

    It’s about time Americans learn to appreciate exactly all of the sacrifices that have been made for them every single day throughout our history.

  • cabledad65

    As a person who has served in both the Coast Guard and is currently serving in the National Guard, I found the video both entertaining and informative. True the National Guard does help fight for this country during war time, however when a disaster strikes anywhere in this country (natural or other), it is one or both of our country’s guard forces that arrive to help stabilize the situation. Like any major company in this country does, our military recruits people to serve in its organization. Are the people who are critical of this video just as critical when Microsoft, Sun, Apple, GM, GE, or Coca Cola try to recruit people for their organization?. In todays volunteer military, recruiting must be done. Would they rather return to the draft?. More so with the national guard, they are like the police. When war is the mission, they are like the police following you when you are speeding. However when a disaster strike, it like when someone is breaking into your home at 2:00am, they can’t get there fast enough. Most NG soldiers are local people giving up their weekends to train so that when something happens in their community, they are prepared to help their fellow citizens and make sure their towns or cities are taken care of. For many members, when they joined, they had no skills and low paying jobs at best. After training, they not only got skills that benefit the NG, they got skills they are using in a civilian capacity which is benefiting the community.

  • http://www.lunametrics.com Robbin

    Wow, I think you military types missed the point entirely. The point here is that it is a great video, and the National Guard might do a better job by themselves if they didn’t require registration (or asked for registration later.)

  • http://www.ausfuhrung.com ashely

    I think they found that ten times as many people downloaded their whitepapers when no registration was required, you have been they every single american music.

  • http://ustvseries.blogspot.com rsfrs

    I think they found that ten times as many people downloaded their whitepapers when no registration was required, you have been they every single american music.

    Ashely have same thinking with me

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