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Use your Marketing department to drive away prospects

I needed to install a demo version of Parallels Desktop for Mac to work on an issue some of our Many Tricks customers are having with Witch.

On Parallels’ site, when I clicked the “Try It Free” button, I was greeted not with a download, but with a dreaded email harvester:

Unless I was willing to provide an email address, I was not going to get the demo. To Parallels’ Marketing department, I’m sure this is viewed as a huge win: “Look, if we require an email address to get the demo, we’ll build a massive mailing list of potential buyers!”

But to a prospective customer, what this harvester says is “we really don’t care about your experience, we want to harvest your email address.”

An email harvester is only as useful as what it harvests. And from me, and I suspect many others, it harvested a “I only use this for junk mail” email address. So while Marketing is collecting a huge list of email addresses, that list is littered with any number of useless addresses.

Contrast this approach with VMWare’s Fusion demo download: Click one button, and the download begins. In the past, VMware also collected email addresses, but it seems they’ve realized that building a huge list of mainly worthless addresses is, well, worthless.

Unfortunately for Parallels, using the demo is even more annoying than downloading it, “thanks” (again) to the Marketing department.

The first annoyance is that you cannot use the trial until you login to Parallels’ servers. (I used the same worthless email address as I used to download the demo). Marketing now has even more potentially-useless data.

While using the demo, I was greeted with this dialog box at random intervals; I’m not sure what triggers it to show up, but I saw it at least three times in 30 minutes (click for larger):

The original dimensions of that dialog are 984×693, so it takes up an appreciable chunk of the screen, and must be dismissed before you can continue working.

And because that’s not annoying enough, you also get a second pop-up dialog on some other random time interval; I also saw this one at least three times in 30 minutes.

I get it; I’m using the demo. I know that. So, please, leave me alone and let me actually, you know, test your product.

This is not the right way to convert a prospect into a customer; if you want me to buy your product, you should make using the demo as painless and enjoyable as possible. This demo is neither painless nor enjoyable…sorry, Parallels, but your Marketing-controlled demo has cost you a potential customer.

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