Saturday, March 7, 2009

A FAIR EXCHANGE - When to Ask for (And Get) Vital Customer Information

When offering whitepapers or other high-value content, the question often comes up as to when is it appropiate to ask for specific information in return.

  • When should I ask for a phone number?

  • When should I get their job title?

  • When should I ask for their buying horizon?

I think the answer to this really hinges on two criteria:

  1. Where they currently are on the Buyer Journey

  2. Their perception of a “Fair Exchange”

#1 The Buyer’s Journey:

Obviously asking for much less at the Interest stage and asking for much more at the Evaluate stage makes sense. It’s like building any relationship – you ask for information over time as trust evolves.

So for example you might map when to ask for what this way:

#2 Their perception of a “Fair Exchange”

This is where a customer evaluates the fairness in what they perceive they will be receiving, in exchange for divulging specific information. As long as the customer perceives there is a fair exchange, then they will provide the info.

The more valuable the asset is perceived, the more answers you will be allowed to get.

A good way to test the perceived value of a given asset is to require a form submission but leave ALL the fields optional – except for email address. See what they voluntarily fill out. This will give you a good gauge as to the perceived worth of the asset.

BTW – Just because something is FREE doesn’t automatically make it a good perceived value. We’ve all seen forms that include 30 fields just to download a FREE [something]. Geez.

Of course just because they give you information doesn’t guarantee it is accurate. When was the last time we were truthful filling out our height and weight :) In fact asking typical BANT questions usually spells trouble as frankly many people either don’t know the answer or won’t be honest.

It all comes down to testing, like most everything. But these seem to be pretty good guidelines.

Steve Kellogg
Eloqua-Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant

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