Businesses new to marketing, or without a marketing department, often make the same mistake when collecting data on customers: they ask for too much or not enough information.
Every web form you have published – whether it’s on your website or hosted elsewhere – should be strategically planned. Otherwise, you run the risk of collecting the wrong data. One unnecessary question on a web form can create just enough of a barrier to prevent someone from signing up. Likewise, not asking for the right information can defeat the purpose of your web form.
Here are 3 signs you’ve been collecting the wrong data on your customers:
1. You’re collecting data you have no plans to use
If you’re collecting everyone’s birthdate because it’s part of your strategy to send them a card on their special day, then keep doing it. If, however, you don’t have a plan for using birthdates in your marketing campaign, you’re creating an unnecessary step for visitors to sign up.
If you didn’t have a plan for the data when you launched your web form, it’s unlikely you’ll come up with one later. Remove the questions that don’t fit into your analytics or marketing strategies; as your form becomes shorter, you’ll see more visitor signups.
2. You’re not segmenting the data you’ve been collecting
Having an abundance of information is wonderful, but if you’re not segmenting it, that information is useless to you. Segmenting your contacts according to the answers your visitors provide is what allows you to send emails with content tailored to specific groups of people. Without segmentation, you’ll have the information, but it will only be available by accessing each contact’s data individually.
Segmentation isn’t just for data collected through your web forms, it applies to ads as well. According to this infographic, segmenting audiences on Facebook and other platforms can lower your ad cost by 40% and personalized content boosts leads by 17x.
3. You copied someone else’s web form
When you’re not sure what questions you should ask on your web form, it’s tempting to visit your competitor’s website and copy their questions. The problem with this approach is that you don’t know their marketing strategy. What appears to be a list of basic questions is usually part of a larger strategy, and those questions become meaningless without the strategy.
For instance, say you’re collecting email addresses that belong to healthcare practitioners to sell them on a new modality you’ve invented. Someone you perceive as a competitor might have a web form that asks the following questions:
- What type of practitioner are you?
- How many modalities do you currently use in your practice?
- How many patients do you see each month?
- When is your birthday?
All of these questions are potentially connected to an intricate email marketing strategy that you can’t see. For example, asking what type of practitioner the visitor is might serve to filter out non-practitioners, as well as segment according to practice inside of their CRM. The business asking for this information probably has a series of emails that are customized for each type of practitioner.
Questions that are answered with yes or no often segment an audience for the purpose of sending them separate marketing messages. It’s not the questions on a web form that cause success – it’s what you do with the data.
4. You aren’t using your data to understand your customers
In a publication titled Misinterpreting Customer Data: Good Data Can’t Save Bad Marketing, Aberdeen Essentials explores the potential for relying too heavily on data-driven marketing practices to sink a business. The example used is a Harvard Business Review article that suggested UK grocery giant Tesco failed due to overreliance on data.
The article provides the research that proves the HBR article to be wrong, and also demonstrates where reliance on data can be a company’s downfall. However, the problem isn’t the data – it’s a misinterpretation of the data.
The article states, “The fact is, when companies use data to identify and respond to customer needs, they succeed, but when companies misinterpret or ignore the voice of the customer expressed in data, they fail.”
When Tesco failed, it was because they failed to bridge the gap between the data and actionable insights they could have used to address the needs of their customers. Tesco collected plenty of customer data, but had no idea how their data translated to the customer’s voice.
Ask as few questions as possible
Don’t overwhelm visitors with a long web form. Only collect the data you need to execute your marketing plan and learn what your customers are thinking. Any unnecessary web form questions should be eliminated.