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The Importance Of Data Capture

27th September 2012
Creating a smart, functional and accessible website to promote your business should be a primary point of concern for any business, but once your potential customers have logged on and taken a browse, what more do you know about them?

It’s a key question to ask, because knowing your audience is one of the keys to success. Give them what they want, and the hope – or preferably the expectation – is that they’ll buy it. But how do you go about extracting that all-important information about who and where your potential clients are?

It’s all about making sure that you include as many calls to action as possible, and these can include:
  • Creating an enquiry form or data capture form
  • Including a prominent telephone number
  • Having the option to sign up for a newsletter
  • Running competitions
  • Links to follow the company on social media
When creating a data capture form, the key is to keep it simple – for example, can you make do with only a name and email address to make it as appealing and straightforward as possible for customers who are keen to know more, but not give too much away? If your product is complicated, and potentially needs additional data such as age, sex, telephone number, etc, consider splitting the form over a couple of very short pages, with only two or three fields each time. That way, you’ve definitely been able to collect the basic data from the first form, and then the ‘bonus’ info can hopefully gathered when the user thinks ‘well, I’ve entered half the details, I may as well finish it off now’, rather than being put off by one big long form to start with.

Also, think about what incentive you’re offering to somebody to actually sign up or hand over that initial information. If you’re offering a product or service that is so great that they’ll willingly hand over the details, that’s good news, but in many cases, you’ll probably need to justify what it’s for. Most likely, you’ll be looking to collate details to be able to send out a newsletter, be it on a regular or ad hoc basis. Alternatively, you may be offering a competition prize, and therefore you’ll need the details in order to contact the winners. Do it properly, however, and you can generate an amazing database of potential clients, with one complimenting the other, as our examples show.

One of our clients, Pagoda Furniture, seem to have hit upon a winning formula by offering one of their stand-out sets of outdoor furniture as part of an annual competition that opens for several months each year. By using a number of popular competition-seekers’ websites to promote the giveaway, they’ve been able to enjoy superb success, with up to 6,000 entries being received each time they promote the giveaway.

By hosting the entry form on their website, this obviously has an initial boost for traffic (ideal for spin-off search success), and gives visitors reason to start browsing the various sections of the site, where they may be attracted to other items from the range. Those filling out the entry form are providing the site with great leads for the future. If you want to regularly contact these entrants with future mailings, you must clearly state this as part of the competition, or offer a tick box alternative to opt out. Even just sending a one-off, “sorry you didn’t win, but here’s a link to our site” – maybe with 10% off or a similar incentive – at the end of the contest can be a real winner in terms of driving traffic back to your site.

Encouraging two-way conversation with potential clients is also ideal, hence why the inclusion of a telephone number – bold and placed in a prominent position if possible – is a vote winner. Making the number easy to find is an ideal way of making the navigation of the site easier for customers, and makes it more likely that they’ll pick up the phone and call if the number is boldly displayed on every page, rather than hidden away half way down a ‘contact us’ page. It also increases user confidence that up-front people are behind the venture, rather than a hidden entity with an internet alias. And of course, once you’ve got them on the phone, you’ve got the perfect chance to manually note down their details to add these to your database of potential clients. If you want a prime example of how this could (or should) look, why not check out the Glazing Refurbishment Ltd site we’ve recently designed.
Social linksMake accessing your presence on the likes of Facebook, Google Plus, Youtube & Twitter as easy as possible!
Social media interaction is another great method of getting more information out of people who are likely to provide useful feedback about your products. A presence on Facebook and Twitter is now seen as standard for most companies – some like to show that they’re on places like YouTube, LinkedIn and Foursquare too – hence why you now see so many links to these pages on the majority of commercial websites. Push visitors to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ you on these pages - possibly with the incentive of exclusive information or giveaways, which are good for growth if you encourage ‘Shares’ or ‘re-Tweets’ – and you’ve then got a fan-base who can provide you with feedback on your products. Again, we’ve worked on many sites with these calls to action; see mlhphysio.co.uk as an example.

Many of our customers integrate CRM systems into their websites in order to maximise the effectiveness of the data they hold, and it is worth remembering that there are good and bad ways of getting in touch with your clients. Bombard them with daily updates, or send them information that is of no interest, and they’ll soon start blocking your communication. Set a sensible level of communication however, say weekly or monthly, and contemplate segmenting the data so that you only send messages based on customer preferences (e.g. try to only send your new ladies’ winter clothing range details to your female clients!), and you should see far greater results. Just remember to check you gained consent from those who signed up before getting in touch, and provide them with a clear and easy method of unsubscribing from future communications if they so desire, and hopefully the majority will be happy to keep hearing from you in a perfect method of complimenting the good news that already features on your website.

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