In the digital age many of us are inundated on a daily basis with requests for information.

From mailing lists to client surveys, everybody wants to beef up their customer
data. Getting customers to fork over sensitive information is no small feat, and (as with
anything) some ways are better than others. Take Starbucks for example.

This year, just like last year, I received my annual Starbucks “Happy Birthday Free Drink
Card”. As we always do my wife and I searched up and down the extensive Starbucks’ menu for the priciest drink. Eventually we settled on some sort of fruit-coffee-ice cream concoction for the whopping price of $7 (CDN). We drank about half of it. So how did Starbucks even know it was my birthday and why was I entitled to a free drink?

A few years ago I received a Starbucks gift card for Christmas. On the back of the card
there was a little sticker indicating that if I registered the card online, I would get a free drink.
I like Starbucks, I like free coffee -why not? I went to the website and entered my card ID to
begin the registration. I gave them my address (how else could they send me the card?), and
my birthday (not with the real year of course!). That was it.

This simple one-time process set me (and my wife) up for annual free coffees, and at
the same time gave Starbucks access to relevant customer information. What was it about the Starbucks promotion that encouraged me to participate compared to other online rewards programs? Here is why it worked:

First and foremost, I trust Starbucks as a brand; it’s my preferred coffee brand.

I actually read the Starbucks privacy statement. They sometimes participate in co-branded
promotions, but I have the option to opt out (via my account) at any time.

The amount of information requested for me to receive a free gift made sense, and the online form was quick and easy to use. They only asked for what they needed.

I felt the product I received for free was valuable to me in return for sharing my information.

The next time you have a promotion or whitepaper download, do yourself a favor and
think of Starbucks. Do you really need to ask all those questions? What are you offering your customers in return for their information? If you can simplify your data collection process and reward participants appropriately, you might be pleasantly surprised at how many more people will complete your online form.

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