How Much Information is Too Much?

forms“Sir, ” I began our weekly conversation, “just how much information do you believe one can ask for when opting people in to a list?”

“Why Watson, you have gotten positively succinct! No dilly dallying this time!” The Effective Detective exclaimed in surprise.

“Occasionally the topic lends itself to a direct question, sir. Is there a direct answer?” I responded, trying to direct the conversation to getting an answer, rather than sarcastic comments.

“Two excellent questions Watson, the answer to the second is “not quite”, which leads me into the answer to the first.

“There are several variables that come into play, but let me start with a simple formula: The Number of opt-ins you might get is typically inversely proportional to the amount of information you ask for,” The Detective  paused to see my reaction.

“English please, sir,” I sighed.

With a slight smile, The Detective answered back, “Simply put Watson, you will get less and less opt-ins as you ask for more and more information from your visitors.”

“Then the answer to my original query is simple: as little as possible – most likely name and email address,” I shot back, pleased that I had answered my own question so quickly.

“For the most part, yes,” The Detective responded, but then giving me that smile that told me my victory was to be short-lived.

“You see Watson, there are several ways that you can tip the odds in your favor. You can increase the percentage of opt-ins even when asking for more information than might be considered normal by adjusting the value of what they get in return for their information. Consider an extreme example just to make the point: imagine if in exchange for your information you would be given a six month all expense paid lease to a Mercedes Benz. I am guessing the opt-in percentage would be fairly high no matter what information was being asked for.

“Obviously, that is an extreme example, but a less extreme example may be asking for a phone number in exchange for a free consult. If the person offering the consult is seen as credible, the opt-in percentage would rise, even with having to give a phone number,” The Detective paused, seeing that I had an urgent question.

“But sir, what if you do not have that kind of credibility with an audience yet?” I got my question out quickly before The Detective took over the conversation again.

“An excellent question, Watson. And there is a methodology that one can follow. Remember that the main point of any opt-in exercise is to get people on “your list”,” The Detective started up again. “Even if we don’t have all of the information we would like, if we can get a name and an email address, the game is afoot. Given that, one could break the request into two parts. The primary offer would be something digital in exchange for name and email, then make a secondary offer which might require a mailing address or a phone number, AFTER they accept the first offer.

“If that fails, again, we have a name and email address that we can begin the conversation with and after some time of providing content and building a relationship, make an offer via email such as that physical CD or phone consult in exchange for providing the extra information desired. If they don’t provide it, again, they are still on our list, and there will be other opportunities,” The Detective finished.

“So better to get them on the list with minimal information, and build trust and thus get permission to obtain more information later, then to risk losing them forever initially!” I exclaimed, seeing the beauty and logic of the methodology.

“You’ve gotten the point precisely Watson. Shall we move on?” asked The Detective.

“Of course sir, at your convenience,” I replied satisfied with another fruitful conversation.

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