I like music – any kind of music. I think my taste is eclectic and I listen to, download and buy music through many channels. You’d think that would make me easy for retailers to label as a fan. The fact I share loads of behavioural and transactional data should give them a great chance firstly to get to know me better and secondly to offer me more relevant music that I might like.
Used wisely and to its full potential, customer data can create a win-win situation: a great experience for me and consequently another sale for the brand. That’s the theory, anyway. In reality, I still get retailer ads directing me to things that were mentioned just days previously or, worse, stuff I’ve already bought. I’m sure most of you can pull up swathes of similarly irrelevant emails in your trash that did nothing but annoy you.
Thanks probably in equal measure to the transparency of the Internet and a rabid media appetite for portraying the data industry as the consumer’s enemy, shoppers like me are now much more aware of the types of information collected through multiple channels. Savvy consumers are a marketer’s worst nightmare. We know how to abandon a shopping cart, rapidly price compare and share bad experiences in vitriol. That knowledge brings new power. It has stoked the privacy debate, but also presented a wider communications challenge, namely the collective customer voice crying: “If you think you know me, talk to me like you do!”
It’s not that I bat an eyelid about handing over personal information. It’s how brands use it that counts. Are you going to serve me a really neat promotion for that Pink Floyd box set I was wavering over, adding real value to the conversation, or will the next email I get be a deal on Take That’s greatest hits?
You see what I’m doing on your website; you know what I buy with you online, in-store and over the phone; you probably have my customer service calls recorded “for training and quality purposes”; you might have read my reviews of your products and your rivals’; and you have easy access to lots of other response and personal data about me via the marketplace. But the point is this: what are you actually doing with it?
I like timely promotions underpinned by granular analysis to pinpoint trigger dates, not last-ditch attempts to keep my business when you’re finally getting the message I’m about to quit. That means reaching me through the right channel. If you know I hate email, phone me – but do it at the correct time of day. And it means understanding what other people like me have done to show me the same offers, in real-time.
Do anything, just don’t leave my precious data floating helplessly in outer rack space. Go ahead and use all of my information to target my product offers, personalise my content and stir my emotions; make me laugh, tug at my heartstrings, delight me with a special offer. The last thing I want is an email or phone call making me comfortably numb. Above all, make it seem like the message is just for me.
In the early days of direct marketing, finding relevant data to use was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Nowadays the challenge is exponentially bigger as there is so much data to sift through: bigger needles, but giant haystacks. Get this right and it could be the start of a beautiful friendship. I’ll spend and recommend. Ignore the value of my data, though, and it could prove a costly lapse of reason (momentary or otherwise) as I take my business elsewhere.