The US National Guard Makes A Mess Of Conversion

November 25, 2007
By Robbin Steif

“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…