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Getting the Demographics:
It's Give and Take

Elizabeth White






Ask what you need
and use what
you ask.

When I first got into marketing, it was explained to me that marketing was a lot like dating. You don't propose at the first meeting. It's a lesson I took to heart and unfortunately many marketers either didn't know this or think that they can beat the odds. Well you can't. Stop trying or you'll be dubbed that obnoxious guy from which the women flee.

Many companies use their website to ask a zillion question before the customer has had a chance to learn about you. How are you going to learn if you don't ask? Go back to the dating metaphor. When you meet someone whether you are male or female you don't ask for their phone number right away. You ask for their name. If they like you, they may even give you their real name. I personally have six separate email addresses that I use to complete those demographic forms. I'm not giving you my "real" email address until I check you out a bit.

What this causes for the internet marketer is a bunch of bogus contacts in their database, for this I'm truly sorry. However, there are things that you can do on your website that will decrease the number of bogus entries and increase the number of valid sales leads or produces genuine demographics on which to base your marketing programs.

First rule is offer something a visitor wants. More than likely the visitor is on your website because they interested in something -- your industry, your promotion, your service or product. However like a free drink, it doesn't hurt to encourage your visitors to stick around and get to know you.

Next ask your questions in small doses. Do a name and email address first. Later in the process asks for interests such as for a building industry website asks if you have made any changes to your home lately. Depending on their answer, serve up the appropriate content either how to hire a contractor or tips for do-it-yourself.

Another rule is only ask for what you really need. If you really don't care whether your customer is either male or female, don't ask. The website is no place to host an impromptu focus group. If you want to have a focus group without the task of flying people in then ask your site visitor if they will be willing to participate in an online focus group. Tell them what the time and thought investment would be and let them decide.

Remember just like in a bar, check out line, or at a bank, your website visitor is probably on your site with either casual interest or on a mission to find information. Don't be annoying. Be conversational and you'll find the information you get back from your visitors is a lot more accurate and informative.

Elizabeth White is the Director of Interactive Marketing at Experienced Design, an internet business solutions company focused on helping its clients maximize the internet to its full potential.

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