The art of data seduction

Data capture has to be a primary goal for any brand when creating a digital strategy. It is a critical step in developing customer relationships – from a simple email subscription form through to detailed, multiple step-orientated processes with a range of options along the way. 

Few people enjoy filling out forms, especially online, and there are barriers to engagement around digital data capture: limited online attention span, eye fatigue, cognitive strain and user choice. Consumers know that they’re likely to get the same (or better) content or product elsewhere for less effort.

The user experiance toolbox has a range of approaches that facilitate ease of use across data capture areas. Quick wins include feedback – status bars that show people how far along the registration process they are. If you have different forms for different tasks on your website, then ensure that data is carried over across forms. There’s nothing more tedious and frustrating for users than having to repeatedly fill name and email address details.

Capture the data in phases so that you can build up a relationship based on trust with your users. Asking for deep information (eg, postal address) without the user being able to determine a clear need for this type of data is a surefire way to scare people off. Separate out your mandatory and optional information so that users are in control of how much information they want to provide. 

The most creative approach to online data capture is to stop thinking about it as a means to an end (ie, if you get someone’s contact details, you can put their data into your eCRM process). Instead, think of it as an end in itself – a journey within a journey, if you like – by providing consumers with a rich and engaging brand experience.

You need to start from a point of real understanding of your target audience, their needs, quirks and wants. The business intelligence tool used for this purpose is personas. The insights captured within personas become the fuel to build innovative, user-centred data capture strategies that balance intrinsic motivation (“what I get at the end of the journey”) with extrinsic motivation (“I am enjoying the journey”).

A good example of how this balance can be realised is through one of Unilever’s digital offerings, the Lynx Lounge, aimed at young urban males who may purchase Lynx products. We provided an interactive journey that includes a sexy woman, who gradually comes closer to the camera as the user progresses along the registration process – literally seducing her audience into providing more information about themselves. While at its core it is purely a data capture exercise, the application includes a playful element that gives its users a real motivation (the user goal) to provide more data about themselves (the business goal).

Creating data capture models that truly engage end users is critical in ensuring that brand relationships are built and maintained. User-centred data capture is an often overlooked area of focus and yet it is the gateway to successful ECRM. As the Lynx Lounge demonstrates – data capture can be sexy!

By Lynda Elliott, senior user experience architect, Tullo Marshall Warren

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