Much time and money is spent on cleaning up existing contact and customer data, but it’s a case of “filling a leaky bucket” if your online registration pages allow new contacts to provide you with inaccurate or incomplete information. Here we offer 5 simple tips to improve your online forms for capturing new contacts:
1. Ask the right questions. If your segmentation strategy is based on the age or profession of your contacts, be sure to include these questions in the registration form. Conversely, you should remove any unnecessary questions which aren’t used in practice. Eye colour may be interesting, but if your marketing strategy doesn’t require it, then don’t ask.
2. Don’t ask for more than you need to. While a reasonable amount of information will be required for marketing purposes, you should bear in mind that a long list of questions will encourage users to ‘click anything’, or decide not to register at all. If your database is filled with bogus data selected at random by registrants in order to get past the form, this won’t benefit your marketing activities, so keep it as short as possible.
3. Use pick-lists where possible. Data captured through ‘free-text’ boxes requires significantly more clean-up and is much harder to analyse: three different librarians might identify themselves as “Librarian”, “Libaran”, and “Library”. Offering a fixed list of options in a drop-down list wherever possible makes life much easier for the marketing team AND much easier for the users too.
4. Validate emails and postcodes. Automatic tools are available to validate emails and postcodes (for many countries) at the point of entry. These will highlight any problems at the point of registration and ensure that your new registration records are ‘clean’. User records with invalid email and/or postcode will often prove worthless for many marketing purposes, so put the tools in place to ensure that correct details are provided from the outset.
5. Ask for marketing permissions. Legislation varies from country to country, but a customer who has actively ‘opted in’ to marketing is always more valuable than a customer who has not. It is therefore good practice, and often a legal requirement, to make clear how you intend to use your registration data, and to ask for an explicit ‘opt-in’ to each type of marketing. As well as being good manners, this will also ensure that you can focus your marketing resources on the right people.