Picture this; you are a virtual butterfly collector, your aim is to capture all the little colourful bits of data that fly past (emails) to add to your collection (email list). If you just stay in one place, with your big net in the sky and hope something flies into it, you’re not going to capture much. On the other end of the spectrum, if you dance around like a mad man, you’re going to scare all of the data away!

Butterflies aside, if you are too obvious or to subtle, no one is going to bother. It is all in the balance between these two. If you want to receive some data from traffic, you need to give them something. To entice the data in, you need to build trust and rapport. A great place to start is being completely transparent about what you are going to do with their data – e.g. not sell it on to every marketing agency you can find.

The best way to do this is to provide exactly what your audience wants; if you are a website about digital marketing, give them knowledge on digital marketing, or if you are a website on funny news, give them funny news and lots of it! Good quality content is what the game is all about not only will this grow your lists, it will improve your SEO and traffic.

So you have the website and traffic, now how to make them give you some juicy data. A great way of capturing data is to make them give you some data in order to download a high value object. Examples of high value objects can be white paper downloads or infographics – something real thought, research and time has gone into, and is credible.

Let’s take a look at an example:


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Urban Outfitters are using free delivery on orders over £30 as leverage for your data. I am sure anyone buying on urban outfitters would be more than willing to save £5 worth of delivery costs to put their email in the box. Urban outfitters know this so they are asking you for a bit more than your email, they want to know what gender you are and what country you live in.

The more data you can get from your traffic the better, it means you can target them with specific emails and promotions and increase your conversion rate. However, it has been proven that there is direct correlation between the number of questions asked and abandonment rates. The more you ask for, the less people will be willing to give you. There needs to be a balance between the two to ensure you collect a decent amount of data, gather enough information about them to make it targeted but not ask too many questions that you bore them or scare them away.

Light box email captures like Urban Outfitters this are a great way of capturing data but make sure it is obvious that a person can still browse and use your site like normal if they don’t fill the form in.

Tips and tricks to make your light box awesome:

  • Have it pop up upon entering the site, not half way through someone’s browsing session. No one likes to be interrupted
  • If the person doesn’t fill in the box on entry, have the box appear in the top left or top right for the remainder of their visit – then if they have a change of heart the option to fill this in is still there. Give them the power.
  • Give something back – unless you have a discount or freebie, you’re going nowhere
  • Don’t force people to fill in the form – nobody likes that, give people the choice
  • Keep your form short and sweet, don’t ask for information you’ll pick up later on, for example home address and mobile number which you will collect as standard on a purchase
  • Think about your audience – how engaged are they already? Do they leave messages, chat about you on social media? If so you may be able to squeeze a little bit more out of them. The easiest thing to do is ask.
  • Ask your audience – do they want to be contacted and added to a mailing list? How often, when and what information would they like? This is not only courteous but very unusual – people will appreciate the gesture and hopefully reward you with becoming a loyal customer.