When insisting on a telephone number depresses response

Take care with web forms. If you want a healthy response to your marketing campaigns it’s unwise to insist on a telephone number.

If you’ve ever been plagued at home by evening telesales calls, you’ll know  how irritating they are. Savvy consumers use the TPS – the Telephone Preference Service – to opt out of UK telesales campaigns. But while it’s equally irritating getting sales calls when you’re trying to work, there isn’t a business equivalent.

Provide a choice – To give or not to give

I recently came across two really useful looking reports into direct marketing-led subjects. I had to fill in a simple form to download them, which was fine. From a marketer’s perspective you’d expect any business worth their salt to collect useful prospect data. But give them my phone number? Oh no, no, no!

By handing over my number willingly I’d lay myself wide open to implicit consent, where the very act of responding to an offer is taken as consent you’re happy to be telephoned. Which I am definitely not. As a copywriter I need to concentrate on my clients’ work, not field constant interruptions from telesellers. If I need something I will buy it… probably online, sometimes in a shop but rarely – if ever- over the the ‘phone.

Sadly my telephone number was a ‘required field’ so there was no avoiding being put on someone’s telesales list. So I performed an impressively swift u-turn and backed out of the transaction.

I’m not alone. Direct marketing wisdom, decades of research and a bit of common sense insight into the human psyche reveals if someone is happy to be telephoned, they’ll give you their number. Otherwise not.

Yes, insist on an email address. It’s common sense. But it’s far better to make prospect telephone numbers optional, not essential to a transaction. That way you scoop up all sorts of prospects, not just those who don’t mind telesales.