Address to impress – smart web form data collection

I’ve written previously about the importance of address management (see International address management) in maintaining data quality, and I mentioned that we planned to implement a new set of web enquiry forms with an address auto-completion feature (see Using web visits to build contact profiles). Well, I’m pleased to say the forms are online and working very nicely, improving not only the quality of address capture but also the user experience as well. Reducing the keystrokes required to complete a form, I believe, leaves more goodwill with the enquirer to answer a few more profile building questions.

The easiest way to see how the forms work is to try them for yourself, so take a look at the UK form and try filling it in. Once you’ve completed the postal code, the system looks up the address in the background, and as you start typing the first few characters of the street address, it presents options as to what the address should be. Once you type enough for a definitive selection, the address is completed (or you can pick from the list). In the UK, many business postal codes are sufficiently specific that the address is completed without typing any further, except perhaps for a street number.

The forms work across nearly all of our local EMEA sites and are localised for each one. In fact, on the UK form linked above, if you change the country and language options, the address field labels change to match. Unfortunately we’re not quite slick enough to change the entire form, but if you link via the relevant local site the page is fully localised, with the address elements driven by the addressing solution.

The address look-up solution is powered by UK specialists Postcode Anywhere who support the system via a simple AJAX based web service. The service is charged on a per click basis and is remarkably inexpensive, with credit packs covering several thousand look-ups available for just a few hundred pounds. Due to technical resource constraints, the forms themselves are actually hosted by my old friends at CRM Technologies but we’ve tried to make the overall experience as seamless as possible.

A number of potential enhancements have already presented themselves, in particular the ability to perform an organisation look-up on the fly and pre-populate profile fields such as revenue, number of employees and industry, based on Dun & Bradstreet data. This will even include DUNS number, adding to the reliability with which we can match web data capture back into the marketing database. I hope to update on progress soon!

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