Be Honest About Your Web Goals

honesty-posterI came across a campaign website for Lakehead University and at the very top of the website is the call-to-action, ‘Enter to win an Apple MacBook.’  At first glance all it appears that I need to do is supply an e-mail address.  Upon submitting, I needed to provide more personal information like birth date, address, phone number, etc.  I think that most people would be willing to provide this information to win such a great prize, so I continued in the process.

The next page of the form was a little bit confusing.  I was now being asked to select what program I am interested in.  Wait a minute! Wasn’t I just entering a contest to win an Apple MacBook?  Why do they need this and why do they want to know what school I am attending currently?  I promptly left the form.  Upon further investigation of the contest rules, which by the way are convoluted and wordy, it was identified that you had to actually apply and be accepted in an undergraduate program at Lakehead University to win the prize.  Here is the excerpt from the contest rules page:

In fact, in order to be eligible for this prize, the prize winner must have applied to and been accepted into one of Lakehead University’s academic undergraduate programs, and fulfill all other requirements for entrance and enrollment in the University.

On the surface, this contest seems to be just that… a contest.  But at its core it is a recruitment tool, and a poor one at that.  The reason I view this as an ineffective recruitment tool is that its portrayed as a contest.  Yes, some may enter the contest with the intent of applying, but I imagine a majority will enter to with the MacBook.  When starting with the form, the focus that people will have is on the contest, not applying.

When developing web forms, understanding the goal(s) is very important.  You must have clear goals for the form and I believe these goals need to also be clear to your visitors.  In this case, it is obvious that they have two goals: 1) lead generation through the contest entries and 2) recruitment.  Unfortunately, the second goal is not very clear to visitors.

The bottom line: I am disappointed in Lakehead University for trying to deceive visitors (intentionally or unintentionally) by not making their second goal more clear.  Let this be a lesson to us all; have clear goals and communicate your goals clearly.

What are your thoughts on this contest?  Did Lakehead University make a mistake or is this an acceptable practice?  Please share your thoughts.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
  • http://www.iwillthinkformyself.com Tove Tronslien

    Mike,

    We at Lakehead read your blog entry with great interest and did not have a long discussion – we agreed that you have made a valid point.

    As a result, we have decided to change our wording to exclude “Enter to win” and use instead “Join our Lakehead community for a chance to win an Apple MacBook” We also decided to rename the “submit” button. You can view all the changes at http://www.iwillthinkformyself.com

  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    That’s awesome to hear. I think those changes will make huge improvements to the success of your contest. I’ve been moving my focus to the importance of user-centered design. This is still an evolution for me, but I realize the importance of this. Many of the concerns with your campaign website will probably be addressed through some user research.

    Maybe consider running a few focus groups or surveys. You might also want to use a web-based product called Usabilla. You can read about my review of it.

  • Allison

    Hi Mike,

    Just wanted to make a comment that I'm surprised Lakehead University didn't already make to you below in their feedback – twice in your blog above you incorrectly change Lakehead's name to Lakeland. I think your blogs are great – however, it's a pretty obvious error especially when you are speaking about clear communication and tagging the blog with Lakehead University.

  • Allison

    Hi Mike,

    Just wanted to make a comment that I'm surprised Lakehead University didn't already make to you below in their feedback – twice in your blog above you incorrectly change Lakehead's name to Lakeland. I think your blogs are great – however, it's a pretty obvious error especially when you are speaking about clear communication and tagging the blog with Lakehead University.

  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    Thanks for pointing that out Allison. We have a Lakeland College in Alberta so my brain must have been on auto-pilot. I should have caught it though. I've since changed the name. Thanks again for your comments.

  • Allison

    Hi Mike,

    Just wanted to make a comment that I'm surprised Lakehead University didn't already make to you below in their feedback – twice in your blog above you incorrectly change Lakehead's name to Lakeland. I think your blogs are great – however, it's a pretty obvious error especially when you are speaking about clear communication and tagging the blog with Lakehead University.

  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    Thanks for pointing that out Allison. We have a Lakeland College in Alberta so my brain must have been on auto-pilot. I should have caught it though. I've since changed the name. Thanks again for your comments.