“What are you up to?” Be direct to collect user profile data

My fiancé loves flowers. Although every time I buy them for her she gives me that squinty-eyed look of suspicion like I must have done something wrong. She holds the fake smile for a couple seconds and then asks, “What are you up to?”

What are you up to? That’s a trending question these days. Most people are probably thinking that question when they visit your website. You probably want to collect profile data so you can offer them relevant emails, content, and/or product recommendations. But do they know that?

Unfortunately people are (very) skeptical and their trust is not easily won. Now, thanks to the advancing caliber of hackers in various basements and even high schools, the battle for trust becomes harder each time another high-profile brand has their database compromised.

Yet, just like my fiancé loves her flowers, people who visit your site love personalization and recommendations made just for them. Amazon is a poster child for using tailored content to win shoppers’ hearts, so how do you get users to trust you to do the same?

Tell Them What You’re Up To

You just need to simply answer the question: What are you up to? Tell your site visitors why you’re collecting their data, how it’s going to benefit them, and what kind of control they have. Being informed increases comfort and trust.

Channel 4, one of the largest UK television broadcasters, went as far as to create a viewer promise, landing page and video for this very purpose (see below). The spirited and brutally honest talk show host Frank Carr walks users through everything from why Channel 4 collects personal data to the benefits of drawing in advertisers. The video makes the consumer the center of Ch4’s universe and eliminates any questions about how the user’s data is being used. This ambitious level of transparency catches the users’ attention, helps them see the benefits of registering, and eases their nerves.

Seldom do I visit a site that effectively calls out registration or the advantages of creating an account with a brand. Don’t keep the benefits of registration and data a secret from your users. You should be advertising the awesome and relevant experiences that providing a little profile data could provide.

So what are you up to?