A few weeks ago we talked about the highly responsive behaviors we frequently observe among product registration respondents and the “moment of truth” that occurs when consumers register their products online. While we remain firm believers in the importance of this moment, we’ve noticed one unfortunate side effect – consumers who register via a paper registration form are often neglected, effectively becoming the poor stepchildren of the customer experience management process.

This is a problem, since, as we established early on, a significant portion (frequently a majority) of the customer database for most manufacturers is derived from paper registrations. Paper registrations have some obvious drawbacks – they take longer to hit the database than online registrations (15 to 30 days after date of purchase, compared to 5 to 10 days for online registrations), and they are more expensive to process.

They also tend to be a bit less responsive than consumers who register online, but not by all that much. Consider these statistics from a manufacturer sending email welcome messages to consumers who register through both channels: Paper respondents are objectively less responsive than online respondents, but these are still some pretty impressive numbers, especially when compared to general email marketing metrics. The numbers tell the story – if 50% of your registrations come in through the paper channel, and if approximately 50% of consumers who register via paper open your welcome message, you’re losing 25% of your long term opportunity by dropping these consumers from your customer engagement programs.

There is one fly in the ointment here – consumers are less likely to provide an email address on a paper registration form, and capturing those email addresses can be tricky. Investing in properly designed registration forms and state-of-the-art data entry quality controls is the only way to ensure maximum email address accuracy and coverage within your database.

There is relatively little cost associated with integrating offline respondents into an established email welcome program, and the potential benefits are significant. Just because a relationship begins on paper doesn’t mean it has to stay there – migrating these relationships into the online environment creates a spectrum of opportunities that can yield substantial rewards down the road.