With the evolving regulatory landscape, there is a shift in the balance of power between companies and consumers, with individuals getting more rights, controls and access than before. Marketers should be prepared to introduce new processes and solutions to ensure data quality is maintained by both parties when the regulation comes into force next year.
Connection to a mobile phone network and the internet is near universal, giving consumers the ability to operate 24/7 and from any location. This is the environment in which we are accustomed to living and which is driving changing behaviour around transactions and interactions.
This activity brings with it a large data trail, which brands are starting to drill into in order to enhance customer centricity strategies. Considering the human behind the data is more important than ever in this complex digital world. It’s now less about the techniques and more about the goals and brand responsibility. The customer should always be front of mind, and GDPR will encourage that attitude across industries – marketing included.
To become truly customer-centric, brands need to focus on what people value most and why they do so, when interacting with them. The ability to take that approach, and be successful with it, relies on having accurate customer data – and having that data compiled to show a comprehensive and robust view of each customer.
Recent research asked consumers how they felt about brands using their personal data. When asked what acceptable uses of data were, top responses from consumers in all instances were when brands add value for customers. In addition, 27% of respondents said they were happy for their data to be used to provide information on products similar to past purchases, and 21% fed back that they’d be happy for their data to be used for prompts for items that may need to be purchased on a regular basis.
The power of data
Brands now collect more data on their customers than ever before, but they still fall into the trap of being pre-occupied with the numbers. This is something that needs to change this year. Many use the old tried and tested method of segmenting and selecting particular groups or types of people to ensure their messages are getting through. But this blanket method involves thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people at a time, and doesn’t consider the unique profile of one person. Just because they’re ‘similar’ in some aspects to others in the segment group, does not necessarily mean they are the same.
The very word ‘consumer’ (used at will in business) implies an element of ‘commoditisation’. Do we think these people - everyday people like us and our families - like being considered, discussed and treated as a commodity, a number? In a world where customer experience is quickly becoming everything it makes little sense. There is the potential for a backlash against marketing if customers feel they are being targeted with unwanted and irrelevant content which is not personal to them.
It is vital for marketers to get personalisation right. Get it wrong, and it could have disastrous effects for not only the particular campaign, but also on that person’s perception of your brand. For example, it is a bit embarrassing if you call someone by the wrong name or send them information on something they would never buy, but the customer may find it a terrible sign of rudeness.
The abundance of noise in today’s marketplace and increasing demands from customers’ means it is essential for marketers to get the customer experience right. That is why this year I believe we will see brands step up and be responsible for their actions and the way they use data to communicate with people as individuals. Focusing on the experience is key. Marketing is about relationships and trust – remembering the people behind the numbers and doing your utmost to treat them as you would wish to be treated yourself creates a loyal customer base who will continue to come back to you for the positive experience.
Mark Lindsay is the director of strategic client development at Experian Marketing Services