Too much information! Where's the line between sign-up and turn-off?

By: Emily Leary

Date: 20 August 2010

I thought I’d take a moment out to tackle a personal bugbear of mine: excessive sign-up information requests.

Many websites quite reasonably ask users for sign-up information in order to access specific features like forums, or to join mailing lists, but sometimes, they just go too far:

  • Mother’s maiden name?
  • Annual net profit?
  • Favourite after dinner mint?

It’s very understandable to want to know as much as you possibly can about a customer so that you can serve them better, but if you ask too many questions, you’re encroaching unnecessarily on their time, and if your questions get too personal, you’re encroaching on their privacy.

Remember, by its very definition, sign-up information is usually requested at the beginning of your relationship, so why ask in depth questions about a person’s business practices and personal life that you wouldn’t dream of asking at a first face-to-face meeting? At best, your customers will plough through the questions with a feint feeling of resentment and at worst, they’ll change their mind and go somewhere else.

Of course, asking for too little information may make it difficult to follow up with customers and target future marketing campaigns, so think carefully about the core information you need to know, and ask for that and only that. Otherwise, prepare yourself for a barrage of aborted sign-ups and false information.

Emily Leary is director of Emily Cagle Communications

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