Don’t read my Case Study. Do read my Case Study.

Here’s an interesting tweet via Pluggio (my aff. link) from @CiscoIT all about an award from @Computerworld for a video case study.

I was intrigued enough to click through and find out more.

Strike one for Cisco. (Get the click!)

Arriving at the landing page I find this headline giving a great summary of what awaits:

Business Video Case Study: How Business Video Transforms Cisco Business Processes

Strike two for Cisco. (The job of the headline is to entice the reader to stay on the page and see what’s on offer or of interest.)

Alas, when I click on the link to go read the case study I get redirected to a Cisco login link.

And wouldn’t you know it but I don’t have access to my password.
It’s probably at home on my main machine… grr!

A little frustrated with myself, I look beneath the fold and there’s a section titled “Associated Files” with three very relevant file names just waiting for a click!

There’s an ‘executive summary’, a ‘presentation’ and, to my amazement, an ‘IT Case Study’ file! All in pdf format, and with file sizes shown for convenience.

And not a login or registration form in sight!

Strike three for Cisco?

Well, maybe. Though in soccer terms, this is probably a yellow card event for time wasting or offside behavior.


You see I was all fired up to read the case study only to be confused at the final hurdle. Part of me is worrying about the login requirement while another brain processing time slice is wondering if the three pdf files are the same, or different, to what lies behind the authentication firewall.

Why should a b2b marketer be worried about that? For the simple reason that a confused mind is less likely to buy (in the long term) or to feel confident about spending more time on ambiguous web content (in the short term).

In this case I’d probably give Cisco the benefit of the doubt and assume that the three associated files and the protected case study are one and the same. Which makes the Cisco login requirement an anomaly.

However, if they are in fact different then I’d be much happier as a prospect if the web page clearly spelt that out. I could then make an informed decision about registering or not.

How about you?
Do you think case studies should be hidden behind firewalls?

– Mark ‘IT Case Study Writer‘ McClure

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About the Author
Author: Mark McClure - A freelance b2b case study and white paper writer to the computer networking industry. Based in Tokyo, Japan. About the 'Samurai Writer'.
One comment on “Don’t read my Case Study. Do read my Case Study.
  1. Mac Bull says:

    Hello Mark,

    You make a good point. I went to the Cisco website via the link to see what it was all about.


    They have the 3 PDF downloads as “Associated Files”.

    If those are available to download freely, then what lies behind the log-in?

    The same thing?

    I don’t know. I didn’t bother to log-in and check. It’s just kind of weird.

    Perhaps they should have left the Exec. Summary out for a download “teaser” of sorts. Then had everything else available after one logs-in?

    I did download the 3 files. And I will look at them. I will probably be interested enough to go back and log-in.

    However, if it is simply the same 3 files on the inside, then I will be quite disappointed.

    If that does turn out to be the case, then I may even contact customer services…requesting they return the 10 minutes I wasted.

    3 strikes. I think you hit the nail on the head. Good post.

    Mac Bull

    Thanks for commenting.

    I just logged in with a Cisco ID, and guess what? The same files are available on the onside – but the main case study is published as a web page.

    Now this might be an oversight between Cisco’s different marketing and web publishing teams because they do produce a ton of tech and marketing content. Easy enough to make a mistake.
    I just thought it was a ‘good’ example of how not to treat visitors arriving at a case study landing page.

    I left a comment on Cisco’s case study survey form.
    I also tweeted the ‘error’ to one of their twitter handles.

    Over and out from this 30C Tokyo evening – and it’s only June!!

    Wed 29 Jun Update:
    @CiscoIT responded to my tweet overnight with this this message:
    “Hey Mark, thanks for the feedback on our case studies. Check our our latest one (no sign-in, using Scribd)

    Social media has its uses – that, and an online feedback form which is monitored.
    Good job, Cisco!


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