Friday, October 16, 2009

Personal data as online currency

Chances are that if you want to read a really great article from a reliable source, you'll be asked to provide some personal data in order to gain access. Perhaps a form will pop up, asking for your name and email address. Maybe you'll also be asked to select your gender, profession, or even income level from a series of drop-down boxes.

From the user side, how far people are willing to go depends on how much they value the information you're providing. From a marketer's perspective, then, it is important to map what you're asking people to provide to a benefit they'll receive.

Jim Sterne, founder and director of Target Marketing (and former DigitalNow speaker) offers five levels of "one-to-one mapping between the data we gather and the benefit we provide, which may ultimately be the key to increasing consumer trust:

  • Level One: No visitor data is gathered.

    Benefit provided: The visitor is granted access to marketing materials and can wander throughout your public website .
  • Level Two: The visitor allows cookies and JavaScript tags.

    Benefit provided: The visitor has access to whitepapers, blogs, use of shopping carts, etc.
  • Level Three: The visitor's email address is entered.

    Benefit provided: The visitor receives your newsletter, special deals, webinar invitations, RSS feeds, and anything else that can be communicated via email.

  • Level Four: The visitor's postal address and preferences are collected.

    Benefit provided: If you go so far as to ask a visitor for a postal address, you must reciprocate with a higher level of value, such as sales notifications to the visitor's friends and family, special event invitations, members-only webinars, shipping products, etc.

  • Level Five: The visitor supplies valuable information beyond a sign-up sheet, through participation in a survey or an advisory council.

  • Benefit provided: You lavish the visitor with appreciation and a nice gift, negotiated pricing, or a trip to Aruba."
Read Jim's entire article here. (Please note that you will be asked to provide your name and email address - but we think it's worth it.)

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