Four Things to Consider When Asking for Personal Information

/ 21 June 2022

Successfully collecting customer data is a true balancing act. Ask for information too quickly, you’ll create mistrust. Take too long to ask for data and, therefore, unable to personalize the experience, you’ll create mistrust. Ask for too much information? That’s right; you’ll create mistrust.

Four things to consider when asking for personal information

If you’ve ever been served a data capture pop-up alert within five seconds of landing on a new website, you’ll know that timing is key when requesting information. The customer may well want that discount / those insights / that free audit in exchange for a name and email address, but before that, they want to know they are dealing with a trustworthy brand. Or at the very least that a brand that can solve their need.

Choosing the optimal moment is critical to successful data collection. Here are four questions to consider:

1.) What information are customers happy to share at that point in the relationship?

Context is key for effective data collection. If someone lands on a brand’s website, knowing whether it is a new prospect or returning customer is crucial to a successful value exchange. Get this wrong, and you’ll lose trust. The customer will either wonder why the brand is requesting information it already has or why they need so much data after spending 30 seconds on its website.

It is also worth knowing what data the audience is typically most comfortable with sharing at each stage of the brand-customer relationship. There’s no hard and fast rule here, but our recent Consumer Insights Report revealed people were most comfortable with sharing demographic data and least comfortable handing over their contact details. This should guide marketers’ strategy, letting them know what to ask for first and what to ask for later down the line once greater trust has been established.

2.) What information do you actually need to assist the customer journey?

The other side of the coin to the above question is defining the information that marketers are actually going to act on. Gathering data is only useful if marketers can extract actionable insights or generate greater personalization from it.

Brands shouldn’t collect any data that they are not going to utilize or have a strategy in place for. Gathering information but then not acting on it is a sure-fire way to lose trust. If the benefit is not for the customer, then your audience is likely to assume there are more covert or manipulative plans for that data.

3.) Is there a better time to ask for that data?

When you’ve made a purchase and are ordering delivery, you’ll need to hand over your address. That’s logical. Trying to ask for an address before that point will flag customer suspicion; why does the brand need this information at this point? Marketers need to ask themselves whether there is a more seamless or logical moment to ask for that information?

If no such moment exists, is there an opportunity to create an environment that generates it? Our Consumer Insights Survey revealed that most people expected to hand over personal information when signing up for loyalty programs. When you offer personalized offers and discounts, customers expect to share their preferences and behavioral data. They can see the benefit to themselves.

4.) Is this part of a broader ongoing listening strategy?

On the path to repeat business, conversion is not the destination but simply part of the journey. So it follows that opportunities for customers to give feedback and share data shouldn’t be limited to a survey after each transaction.

To build trust-based relationships, brands need to listen as much as they speak. This means always being on hand to help the customer solve an issue or guide them through the buying process. If a customer wants to change their preferences or update their interests, then brands should provide the option to avoid data being stagnant or irrelevant.

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