What does the Census and lead nurturing have to do with one another?

The Census is due! And if you’re like the majority of people I have spoken to you are panicking about sending it off late. The Census comes around every ten years, yet this year more so than past years we all seem to be moaning about it. In this age of heightened security we don’t really like being forced to give over loads of personal information, especially when there is no immediate return in exchange for the information. Of course the long term payback is that the Census provides a unique snapshot into what life in 2011 is all about. We appreciate the reason they ask us the questions, we are just recalcitrant when it comes to handing over the facts. It’s human nature.

What has the Census got to do with lead nurturing and marketing automation I hear you ask? Well, the fact that people don't like being asked questions reminds me of the debate surrounding lead nurturing and whether questions are a barrier. When you are handing over valuable marketing collateral to prospective customers to nurture them as leads, is it OK to ask a question in return? Or will asking questions always act as a barrier, i.e. they think ‘sod that for a laugh’ and click off, never accessing your white paper or webinar. We know massive forms put people off, but do questions have the same effect if they are getting something quid pro quo?

Here’s an example scenario: a customer is interested in viewing some material a company is offering so clicks a link on an email to the website where the material sits – but before they can get at it, will they mind answering a few questions first? That customer will weigh up whether the freebie is worth the information you are asking for before they answer.

Obviously most switched on customers understand the exchange. They get it. 'You give me a freebie and I tell you more about me so you can fine tune your marketing communications'. If you tempt the customer into what you are offering being worthwhile, most will answer a question or two in return for the goodies. They know why the questions exist.

To go back to the Census, I think one of the reasons people mind handing over their info is that they haven’t been incentivised. So if you incentivise customers to answer a question you will be in a better position. First tempt them in by giving your first piece of collateral (webinar, white paper, etc) for 'free', with no question required – this way they know what you offer is high quality and they will want more. Then consider asking a question next time (maybe part two in a series).

People also begrudge giving so much information all at once; so make sure you ask one question at a time, instead of being tempted bombarding the person with lots of questions.