Increasing the number of contacts on your email marketing contact list is a challenge which all email marketers have to face at some time in their career. In an ideal world, email marketers would collect the most comprehensive amount of information possible from subscribers with their data collection form.
However, a long data collection form that asks lots of questions is unlikely to perform.
Instead, marketers must find ways to collect information on their contacts that isn’t intrusive or unengaging. Find out how to create an effective data collection form for email by reading our top tips below.
But first, let's cover the data collection basics
The GDPR changed how businesses can collect data about their customers. Purchased lists became a thing of the past. This change meant that companies had to collect data in a completely transparent way.
When subscribing to an email list, contacts need to be informed of how their data is going to be used and for how long it will be stored after the data has been given.
Giving the contact the option to specify how and when they would like to be emailed in a preference centre is another good practice which we will cover later in this article.
When collecting data it is important to know when the data was collected and how long it is going to be used for. The data subject should be able to change the data they have submitted if their circumstances change in the future. Data subjects can always withdraw their consent for their data to be used and this should be respected at all times and actioned quickly.
Best practices for creating a data collection form for email marketing
When collecting data, you need to follow some key principles.
- Less is more: Collect the minimum amount of information that you can afford for your email marketing efforts. When faced with a long form with too many data fields, prospective contacts are unlikely to fill out the form. Only requesting one or two data fields shortens the amount of time required to complete the form and will likely boost completion rates. Choose only the most important fields for your data collection form.
- Copy: Use the copy on the data collection form to encourage visitors to sign up to your newsletters. Give them the key reason why they will benefit from giving you their information. Read our recent blog post where we discuss effective copywriting techniques to learn more.
- Attractive design: A basic form with a simple black and white design is unlikely to convince potential subscribers to sign up to your email list. Design your form with care, include any appropriate company branding and make sure it stands out on screen.
- Submitting the form: Consider how your data will be submitted to the system or platform you are using. If your subscriber needs to click a confirmation button, make sure this stands out on the form too.
- Formatting: Specify how you want the data to be entered into your system. If your data collection form requires a date to be entered, specify how this should be entered ‘dd/mm/yyyy/, ‘mm/dd/yyyy’, ‘dd/mm/yy’ or any other variation. Standardising how data is entered in each of your fields makes data processing much easier. This can also help reduce the number of data entry errors.
- Finding the form: Your data collection form should be located in a logical place on your website. A form that is difficult to find will not convert. Place your form somewhere where the majority of your website visitors will find it. You can also link to the form from other pages on your website to encourage more visitors to sign up.
Encouraging data collection form completion
Once your form design is complete, encouraging potential subscribers to complete your data collection form is the next challenge. This is not an easy task but the following section will help you encourage new prospects to submit their details.
You need to give the customer a clear incentive to submit their details to your system. You could use a lead magnet for this purpose; this should be something exclusive to your subscribers. The lead magnet needs to provide value to the subscriber and be appealing enough for the individual to submit their data. Potential lead magnets include a downloadable resource, webinar, whitepaper, or an infographic.
Be clear on how you are going to use the data. Although this is a requirement of GDPR, it is worth repeating. Tell your users exactly how they should expect to be contacted by your company. Set expectations about when and how often recipients will be contacted. You can also give your subscribers the option to be contacted at less frequent intervals in a preference centre.
An example of a good data collection form
We love this data collection form from Shibui Tea which popped up on our screens when one of our team recently ordered from them. The user behaviour of adding an item to the basket triggered the form. The email demonstrates the value of giving an email address in the headline ‘Save 15% off your first order’, incentivising sign-ups to the mailing list.
Shibui’s form only requires visitors to fill in one data field making the signup process quick and hassle-free.
Other forms of data collection
Remember, getting new contacts to fill in a data collection form is not the only technique you can use. Here are some of the other methods you can use to collect customer data:
- Competitions: Collect customer data through running a competition or product giveaway. However, competitions cannot be used as incentives for newsletter sign-ups according to GDPR regulations. If you choose to run a competition separately from your newsletter sends, you cannot then use this information to influence your newsletter.
- Behavioural tracking: Tracking the behaviours of your contacts in real-time gives you the opportunity to respond to their behaviours accordingly. This means that you can provide a more tailored customer experience, not afforded by the given information.
- Integrate marketing channels: Integrating your marketing channels means that you can access a wealth of data about how an individual interacts with your company. This gives the company a wider perspective of the needs and wants of any individual that contacts the company. When a contact interacts with your company, you can then take their actions and behaviours into account on all channels.
- Preference centre: Preference centres are useful when you want to know what your contacts are expecting when they submit their details to you. Use a preference centre to collect useful information about when, how and why your contacts want to be emailed. You can then tailor your email campaigns accordingly.
Now is the perfect time to revisit how you use data collection forms for email lists. Changes to data protection regulations mean that marketers will have to be more careful about how they collect contact data. Using the best practices that we have shared you should be able to grow your contact list in no time.