Traditionally, marketers use data capture forms to collect as much information as possible to help build complete customer profiles. It’s no secret, however, that there's a direct correlation between the number of questions asked and abandonment rates on data capture forms. Not only is this approach counterproductive, it’s fundamentally wrong. The bottom line is customer data isn't an entitlement; it’s something you earn.
To gain consumers' trust, marketers need to shift their thought processes and view data capture as a continuum — a multiphase process that unfolds over time with the exchange of value between you and consumers. Unfortunately, the value exchange is the most overlooked aspect of a well-designed data capture strategy.
Here are four tactics smart marketers employ during their data capture processes to move prospects from anonymous visitors to named visitors that sales can engage with:
1. Serve up valuable content opportunities. Begin by analyzing your customers' behaviors on your site (e.g., how long they visit certain pages) to determine their areas of interest. In doing so, you then can build in opportunities to ask them for additional data in subsequent interactions as trust deepens and more value is provided. Admittedly, this approach requires a bit more lifting, but the end result likely will be full customer profiles.
2. Never ask for more information than you need. Remember, each request for data represents a test of your trust/value relationship with your customers. So don’t test it unnecessarily. Similarly, don't ask about preferences unless you're at a point at which you can act and fulfill those preferences. Design your questions to be both relevant and actionable.
4. Fulfill your judiciary responsibility. Ensure that the data entrusted to you is used in the way you’ve stated. After all, the onus rests on you to reassure your customers that you won't do anything inappropriate with the data entrusted to you. Make sure the data is protected so other parties don't have access to it.
Remember, successful data capture requires a well-thought-out and carefully executed plan. If you’re smart with your data capture strategy, you’ll maximize your chances of converting a prospect’s initial interest into a long-term, brand-loyal relationship.
Thanks to Dave Lewis Chief Marketing Officer of Message Systems, and contributor to EM&C for this insightful article.