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A blog by InetSolution about programming, security, design and marketing for banks, credit unions and e-commerce.

Do you know the names of your site visitors?

It certainly is no secret that most bank and credit union marketers regularly review site statistics to measure how effective their web sites are. A strong statistics system will record how many unique visitors are on your site, which pages are viewed, how long a visitor stays on your site and even from which link a user found your site. There is no doubt that this information is valuable; however, it isn't enough to truly capitalize on the power of your web site.

While statistics are fantastic, they fail to provide you with the information necessary to establish a relationship with your site visitors. Statistics, for the most part, are anonymous, displaying only numbers and graphs to represent the visitors on your site. In order to successfully build a relationship, and later trust, with your site visitors, you need to know more. You need to know who is on your web site, what they were looking for or how to contact them in the future.

Personal information about your visitors is the most valuable data you can gather. With this information, you can customize your site to deliver a more personalized experience to each of your visitors. This will help to build a relationship between you and your visitors, allowing you to more successfully market your products to them. To obtain this information, you must ask for it. However, simply providing a "contact us" form and asking for personal information from your visitors often isn't good enough.

Most Internet savvy visitors to your site are reluctant to provide their personal contact information. Internet users expect that, by providing their email address, you will fill their Inbox with meaningless junk mail aimed at selling them products they are not interested in. To ease this fear, some sites now display an option for users to "opt out" of unsolicited email marketing campaigns. This is a great idea, but is still not incentive for your visitors to sacrifice their anonymity and share a little about themselves. So how do you provide this incentive?

You must answer the basic question, "What's in it for me?" The information that your visitors are providing you is valuable, so offer them something in return for it. Perhaps you'll offer a chance to win a valuable prize, allow them to subscribe to a useful newsletter or give away a free t-shirt. Whatever incentive you offer, it should appeal to your average site visitor. This will provide an answer to the basic question, thereby encouraging your visitors to tell you who they are, what they like and how to reach them in the future.

Once you know who your users are and how to contact them, you can begin to develop your site around these visitors. To collect even more detailed information to further customize your site, offer more valuable incentives. If you properly protect the information you collect (see MemberProtect) and use it to personalize your marketing efforts, you will build trust and add value to your relationship with your site visitors. Before you know it, your visitors will become customers.

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