Base One blog

Brand Strategy, Creative Thinking, Digital Evolution and more...

Capture the data. Release the goodwill.

July 03 2009 1:16 PM

**It shows distrust** Every B2B brand wants to inspire trust in their customers. They want people to be able to rely on them for quality of service, excellent prices, or whatever it is that separates them from their competition. So is it not reasonable to expect those brands to trust their customers? By inserting a data capture form, you are insisting on some kind of insurance because you don’t trust them to stick around. Since when do we demand that kind of commitment from a first date? If you expect them to run for a mile just as soon as they’ve finished reading your precious article, it can’t be a very good article. So you’re clearly not showing that much faith in yourself either. **It is old-fashioned** Now don’t get me wrong. We should use methods because of effectiveness, not fashion. But the data capture screen is so turn of the century. These days, if you embrace wholeheartedly the principles of social media or even if you simply recognise that buyer behaviour has changed a little since 1992, you’ve got to be sympathetic to how buyers use the web. Data capture forms belong in the same Room 101 as the dial-up modems, wet proofs and the Spice Girls.**It’s about quantity over quality.**The big misconception is that data capture forms give you lots of prospects. They don’t. In my experience, you will end up with fewer prospects than you would have had without them. A former client of ours, who shall of course remain nameless, insisted on using data capture at every turn. And completions were extremely low because the very presence of the form says “a salesperson will call you”. If you are pretty confident that the prospect will be delighted at this prospect, this is fine. But the truth is that most of them won’t want that. So you are not actually gathering prospects, but driving them into the arms of your competitors.**No it’s not. It’s about quality over quantity**You might reasonably assume from the point above that data capture forms might at least give you high-quality leads. Surely the very process of filling in the form will filter out all but the very keenest prospects? Sadly it doesn’t look like this is true either. The general nature of most free content on the web (or at least the fact that most information does not relate to a specific point in the buying cycle) says that data capture respondents (data hostages??) have a very high chance of not being ready to buy. They might be interested in your offering and suitably impressed at the points made in your article. But if they are not ready to buy, you run the risk of spoiling it all by filing their names in the “hot prospect” section of your database. **A little balance**Despite this general rant in this blog, I don’t mean to say that generating leads is not an important part of business. Of course it is. Whether you buy a list, or acquire names by your own activities, these leads are the lifeblood of your sales operation. But be sure not to confuse inbound and outbound marketing; let them do what they do best with muddling the two together in an unholy and inconsistent mess. To recap:*Inbound marketing* is about offering information, advice, attention and thought to prove that you know what you’re talking about and that you care about your customers. This will ultimately get you onto their shortlist when selecting suppliers.*Outbound marketing* is when you offer your product as a solution. Quite different, but nonetheless worthy. And it’s outbound marketing where your buyers will sign up, so that’s where you do your data capture.So it is not the form itself that offends, but its lazy deployment as a default mechanism. If your business is selling information - research papers, for example - it has to be protected. That’s just normal business, and copyright laws are there to govern the distribution of that material. But if, like most of us these days, you are creating content that you think is interesting to your target audience, make it freely available. Without charge. Without conditions. Without intrusive telemarketing. Remove every obstacle and allow that information to spread around the world, carrying with it your good name, and letting the good people of your target audience know that you are experts in your area.This is of course just my opinion. You may disagree, and you will find a comment form below for precisely that purpose. Just fill in your name, email address…

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May 27 2016 3:08 AM