Are you asking for too much?

Posted by on July 13th, 2009

istock_000005231364xsmallWhen is the last time you reviewed your email opt-in form(s)? Are you still asking visitors for their birth date even though your birthday promotion was canceled months ago?

It is a good idea to periodically review/update your company’s opt-in strategy to align with current business objectives. Marketers love having access to gobs of data, which can sometimes work against them. The key is finding the right balance of what to request and what you actually use in your program. Planning for the future is not necessarily a bad idea but asking users to complete multiple fields for data that you currently do not use can lead to lower opt-in rates.

If you are in doubt, use the formula below as guide to determine how much is too much. Your PI, or Personalization Index, is determined by dividing the number of elements (data sources) you use in your email marketing strategy by the number of elements you collect (data fields on your opt-in form). The rule of thumb is that if your PI is less than .3 you are collecting too much. In other words, you are asking for far more information than you actually use in your email marketing efforts.


Let’s take a look at an example of this. Say an online retailer requests 14 fields on their opt-in form. In addition to name and email address they are requesting items like birth date, HH income, zip code, marital status, etc. These are all great demographic data points and can be used to segment and personalize messages, but is it too much? If this retailer only uses first name, email address, zip code and household income in their program then it is too much.

PI = 4/14 = .285

By eliminating just one or two of these fields the ratio would move above the .3 measurement. Understand that this is meant to serve as a rule of thumb and is more of an exercise to get you thinking about the data you collect and how you use it. So take a look at what your PI ratio is and remove any unused/unnecessary elements from your forms. You may soon see an increase in quality and volume.


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