The last thing marketers want to do is turn off patrons and potential customers, but in the last few years brand communications that are designed to help companies capture customer data have become so disjointed that many of them are falling completely by the wayside.

Here are my tips for staying on top of your data capture game in an age where mobile is king.

Ask only for what you need

What’s the biggest annoyance when it comes filling out paperwork at a doctor’s office or completing a business survey?

Asking too many questions - people can easily get overwhelmed and feel like they’re wasting their time.

Instead of posing as many queries as possible to get the most information out of your customers, ask only for what you need in order to personalize your service to them.

The ideal data is simply the information necessary to communicate relevant content to your customers. If this amounts to more than three or four fields of data, try staggering your requests over time.

Be transparent

Consumers are now wise to the reality that brands are collecting their data.

Rather than coming across as sneaky by avoiding this fact, confront it head-on and be straightforward about it.

Let your customers know that you’re entering into a trade agreement with them: They can provide more information about themselves and, in return, you’ll deliver content that is much more timely and relevant.

Recent studies have shown that people are much more likely to share information about themselves if they know what you’re going to do with it and what they’ll get in return.

Provide an easy ‘out’

Make it convenient for customers to unsubscribe. Nothing can turn off a customer so much as repeatedly seeing emails or content they don’t want.

If the ‘unsubscribe’ button is too hard for customers to find, they’ll think you’re not only causing them unneeded frustration, but also trying to subversively take advantage of them.

Store data responsibly and legally

As an organization entrusted with the personal information of your customers, you have an obligation to safely store it.

Any customer’s personally identifiable information should be stored as encrypted data in case a breach does happen to occur.

In this scenario, you’d have a double circle of security because the trespasser would have to breach the encryption key as well as the data to access your customers’ personally identifiable information.

It’s also a good idea to remind customers that you’re storing their data.

Once per quarter, for example, you can quickly reacquaint customers with your data capture and usage policies, providing a convenient method for them to opt out. 

Standardise & organise your data

Although the process itself doesn’t have to be standardised, it does pay to organise your data.

Be sure you can accurately attribute different customer ID fields to the same individual if necessary.

If you can do this, it will be relatively easy to organize the captured data before storing it.

Provide instant rewards

The mobile consumer is used to getting what they want when they want it. In exchange for personal information provided to you via mobile device, offer an instant reward.

This will encourage customers to not only give you information in the moment, but to return in furture for more rewards.

Gamify the data collection process

Sometimes it’s best to think back to basics when it comes to human psychology. Is it easier to get your child to eat when you’re ‘flying an airplane’ (i.e. spoonful of lunch) into their mouth or outright insisting that they finish all of their food?

Make a game out of the data collection process and your customers will likely be much more willing to hop on board.

Channels for capturing data may have changed, but the consumer hasn’t.

When in doubt, use common sense regarding human behavior and apply available tools to streamline data capture.

If you do this, you’ll receive more than your customer’s data; you’ll capture their loyalty. 

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