B2B data capture, tool or customer repellent?

Stumbled upon a very interesting blog that really resonated with me. Having many moons ago come from credit card marketing, I believe customer intelligence is king. The more we know, the more we can deliver the right product and message…but of course, in financial services, customer information is a given. Quality and risk inherently justify the collection of personal information.

So what about in B2B marketing? Do the same rules apply…if not, when is it acceptable to gather data? B2B marketers talk about things like “Thought Leadership”, we push whitepapers and case studies, and ultimately hope people read them. But if we want people to read, share, evangelize, then why do we create obstacles like data capture?

Short answer, in my opinion, is that its what we’ve always done. The problem is that the rules have changed. There is so much content out there. Google is a one-way ticket to information overload. If you don’t get me what I want, I’ll go somewhere else. End of story. So if you need to collect information (or at least*think* you do), here’s some tips…

1) Is it information that I would be comfortable giving – Once you ask for my address, that’s just broadcasting your intent to send me junk mail. Unless you are uniquely positioned to provide crucial, relevant information, I will probably close the window. And as a colleague of mine pointed out yesterday, how many of us have NEVER given fake email or mailing address?

2) Is the information quick to provide, or am I going to have to think about it? Example – I HATE long drop-downs… I never know which of the bajillion options to choose, so I usually just randomly select one or skip the capture all together. Which again, goes back to the actual integrity of the data capture. The more complicated, the more useless the information will ultimately be.

3) Have you given me a preview of the content first? Do I know what I’m getting myself into or am I going to give you a ton of information only to find that you’ve handed me over a brochure promoting your company and product? Talk about ruining the customer experience. This among all things is a big peeve of mine. Data capture is a trade, a business transaction, and my information is worth more than a lousy, self-promoting, brochure.

Wrapping up, I will admit that I am guilty of data capture, but only as a means of timely, relevant follow up. Always take a customer-back approach and consider how your customer will feel. This is not rocket science, but judging from all the registration screens I see everyday, its something that B2B marketers sorely neglect.

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  1. #1 by John Bottom on July 7, 2009 - 12:58 pm

    Nice post Kris. And whilst I defend my original (and perhaps extreme) position in my blog, I see exactly what you mean. If a company is going to ask for information before giving some kind of benefit (which could be an offer, a whitepaper, a service etc) they need to think carefully. Think usability. Think data protection concerns. Think about your brand perception. For me, data capture is only justifiable in certain specific situations, but when it is, your advice should make people perform it a little more sensitively.
    Cheers, John

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