Expect Facebook Login to be the next big data boost

The business reply cards that customers filled out by hand and marketers sent in to get processed and manually imported into the customer database are ancient history. Online registration forms have made the process easier for both the marketer and the customer. Everyone won. The next evolution in this process is the Facebook Login mechanism that can be added to sites. It is going to change this process for the better — again. Direct marketers should be jumping out of their black T-shirts to implement this.

In a couple of mouse clicks, customers can give you their first name, last name, e-mail address, hometown, birthday and other information that would otherwise have to be typed in manually by the consumer. Instead of taking three minutes to register for your site, it now takes 10 seconds.

By simplifying the process, Facebook Login decreases the number who will drop off your registration page because they don’t want to invest the time to fill out the online form. Any step that marketers can take to increase the conversion rates on these pages will ultimately grow your database of names.

More conversions, however, is only one benefit the marketer reaps from taking the time to implement Facebook Login on their site. The biggest benefit is data, data and more data. Customers put way more data in their Facebook profiles than they are ever going to give you in your online registration form, and with a click of a mouse, they grant you access to that data. Can’t do a birthday campaign because you never asked for a customer birthday? Guess what, it is on Facebook. Want to segment your audience by age? Guess what? Facebook Login gives you that information. Would you like to get to know your customer interests, hobbies, activities and interests? You can request this information using Facebook Login. If this hasn’t given you new campaign ideas yet, it should.

Marketers often complain that audience segmentation goals are waylaid by messy customer data. Guess who has the cleanest, most often updated data in the world? That’s right – Facebook. If a customer changes their e-mail address, they aren’t going to go back to your website form to update it. Don’t take this personally; do something about it. It’s likely that most of your customers do keep their Facebook account up to date.

If you set this up right, your company will know when Facebook knows that a customer has a new e-mail address, making your own customer data cleaner, more robust and more usable. This ultimately increases your deliverability rates, saves you money and makes your messages more effective.

Facebook also provides a way to ask other questions of customers that are not captured during the login process. If you want to ask your customer for their account number, loyalty card ID, number of kids, glasses of water consumed in a day, number of goldfish they have owned in their life – basically anything – consumers can continue to login through Facebook, but you’ll augment it with new questions.

Of course, once in possession of said data, you’ll need to merge it with offline to produce a more complete customer profile. This combined data will now fuel relevant, timely messages in all of your marketing channels. For example, one of my clients that uses Facebook Login on its site looks for keywords from the customer interests in Facebook. If they see keywords, such as “kayaking,” “canoeing,”  “backpacking,” “sking” or any other outdoor activity types of words, they then display images of their products being used in outdoor situations.

Someday soon, online Web forms will look as quaint and as elementary as those paper business reply cards.

Gerard Murphy is director of strategic partnerships at Conversen, which provides cross-channel campaign management software.

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