February 9, 2010

The Art of Collecting Visitor Data


Hostway Team

By Vilie Farah

When it comes to providing personal information, many Web site visitors feel uneasy. When collecting information from the visitors of your Web site, try to put yourself in their shoes. Numerous Web sites ask these people for personal information on a daily basis. Filling out registration forms and polls is mostly seen as annoying and unpleasant.

To avoid pushing potential clients away, some strategies can be used to differentiate your data collection practices from those of other Web sites. First, consider the information collection practices that drive Web site visitors away.

Harmful Practices

1. Asking for information immediately: Refrain from asking visitors for information the very first time they reach your Web site. Most will feel unhappy if the first thing that catches their eye is a registration form rather than the information they were searching for.

2. Not explaining why the information is needed: People are much more likely to willingly provide personal information if they get a clear explanation of why the specific data is needed.

3. Using data unethically: The unethical use of information is one of the most harmful Web site practices you could get involved with. Furthermore, it could lead to legal issues if you infringe on the privacy of visitors. Be careful to explain how you intend to use the data honestly, and resist the temptation to do anything different with it later on.

4. Giving Web site visitors no way to opt out: Web site visitors like to be in control when answering private questions. Giving them no choice as to which questions to answer will drive visitors away from the Web site.

How to Get Information

1. Make the provision of information optional: The provision of personal information should never be seen as a cumbersome task. Make it optional. This strategy will help you in getting proper answers since people willing to engage in the process will provide quality information.

2. Provide special stimuli: Sometimes, obtaining detailed personal information is a difficult task. You need to discover a way to stimulate visitors. A gift, a free voucher or some other bonus will make Web site visitors more willing to answer questions.

3. Ask for information from loyal visitors: Wait for someone to register or to sign up for your mailing list before you ask for personal information. You need to find out more about the people who are interested in your products and services rather than about all random visitors. Select your target group carefully.

5. Disclaimer: Assure Web site visitors that the information provided will be used only for the specific purposes of your company and will never be revealed to a third party.

If you have a reciprocal relationship, you need to be honest with visitors. Your Web site should be a place that makes them feel safe. Adequate information collection strategies will project professionalism and high ethics.

About the Author

Vilie Farah is an SEO professional with five years of experience in the sphere. She has been a team leader in designing and creating various Web sites and Internet portals. Her main area of experience is content provision and optimization.

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