One of the advantages of having a small business website is having the opportunity for your visitors to leave their contact information.  Building a good repository of visitor contact information is one way to form and foster new business relationships.  You can achieve this by allowing visitors to register as a member of your site or subscribe to receive special news or promotions.  Below are some ways to capture your visitors’ information as accurately and efficiently as possible.

Consider Persistent Elements

A customer should never have to perform a scavenger hunt to give you their information.  Consider implementing a persistent element that is on every page of your website.  Make your sign-up link or newsletter subscription opt-in easy to find.  A great example that I’d like to use is our very own newsletter subscription field.  It is in the footer of all of our pages.  If you haven’t already, scroll to the bottom of the page and subscribe to our newsletter, you can’t miss it.

Gate Your Content

If you offer a product or service that your customers really want, it might be a good idea to capture your visitors’ information right from the start.  A good example of this is one of my favorite entrepreneurial sites called  They make the visitor provide their email address before he can actually check out their website, which is full of valuable content.  Another reason I like their approach is because it is just one field.  If you ask your visitors to provide too much information up front, they might become discouraged or turned off by the process.  If you ask for information up front, make sure you don’t ask for too much information, make it easy, and gate it in front of valuable content that your visitors want.

Provide Guidance

It is often difficult to get people to give more information than their email address.  Sometimes you have to guide them.  A site that does a great example of guiding users to provide information is  LinkedIn has a status box on the top right of every profile that guides users to provide sensitive information such as where they work and where they received their education.  It tells the users exactly what needs to be filled out in order for their profile to be complete. Of course, there is a purpose for providing this detailed information to a site like LinkedIn. Be sure you’re only asking for visitor information that you need to have in order to provide the services your visitors want.

Filter Out Spam

Once you are capturing visitor information, you might find that some users provide intentionally fake data.  If the amount of spam gets to the point where you can’t ignore the volume showing up in your inbox, you might want to consider implementing a spam filter.  One good trick to filter out spam is implementing a hidden field in your forms.  Develop a form that is ignored if that hidden field is filled out.  Doing this will foil malicious bots yet continue to allow valid information to flow in.  Another option to filter out spam is to implementing a captcha.  A captcha eliminates bots, but adds additional friction to conversion rates so may not be the best kind of spam filter.

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