Asking Your Prospects for Their Email Addresses

Should you ask visitors to your website to provide their email?
The answer depends on what you’re offering in exchange.

I was perusing a nonprofit’s planned giving website and came across an option to download an eBrochure. “Great!” I thought. “Time to do some homework on the competition.”*

I clicked the link, and was immediately presented with a popup asking me to enter my name and email address in exchange for the eBrochure. I obliged (with an alias, of course). And … I was promptly redirected to a standard eBrochure that was clearly available to anyone, anytime — no personal information needed.

Whoop-dee-doo.

Look: If I give away my personal information, I expect to get something valuable in return. And I strongly suspect I’m not the only person who feels this way.

So here’s my rule: If you’re asking for personal information on your website, make it worth your visitors’ while. Let them know, up front, that they are going to get something of value after they click. Maybe it’s a set of note cards with your logo on it. A pin. Postcards with cute kittens. Information that is not readily available anywhere else. Whatever.

And if you are not offering something of value, do not presume to ask for an email address (or any other personal information)! First off, that’s being disingenuous. And secondly, your website visitor will probably just give you their “junk” email address anyway. If it’s just an eBrochure you’re offering, let them go straight to it. Why make people go through extra steps for what is essentially just a marketing brochure anyway?

Collecting personal information can be like trying to climb up a very slippery slope. Be sure you’re not inadvertently damaging your nonprofit’s reputation by needlessly aggravating website visitors and prospects.

*Speaking of spying on the competition… when was the last time you donated $25 to the nonprofit next door to follow their moves management? Businesses do it all the time. And the most successful nonprofits know to take their cues from the business sector.

Want to learn more? Check out our upcoming webinar: The IRS Considers You A Business. Act Like One.

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