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Customer connections in a hyper-connected world

30th Oct 2018
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Consent is a hot topic, especially given the recent implementation of the GDPR. Yet despite the fact the regulation’s overarching premise is simple — individuals are entitled to give consent and withdraw it at any time — many companies are still trying to adhere to the GDPR’s rules and leverage the potential it brings for better engagement.

Since the GDPR’s arrival, it has become routine for marketers to ask users for consent immediately after coming into contact with them; often before they have even had a chance to view content and make an informed decision. This is a nonsensical paradigm. Perhaps, more than any other role, marketers appreciate how much customer-centricity matters. So, why not get to know customers and connect with them before asking if they would like to share their valuable data?

It has been proven that consumers with whom a trusting relationship is built are 2.5 times more likely to accept cookies and 50% less likely to refuse consent when data is collated for a legitimate purpose. All companies need to do is choose their moment wisely.

The importance of consent

A decade ago, the Godfather of modern marketing — Seth Godin — was unwittingly ahead of his time when he stated that businesses must earn consumers’ trust and then request permission to use their data to deliver valuable, relevant content.

Now, everyone is talking about consent. The EU’s new privacy regulation, and the recent California Data Privacy Protection Act (the strictest US regulation to date) mean businesses must re-evaluate the way they communicate with consumers. This includes gaining unambiguous consent and requires businesses put their customers back in the driving seat, trusting that they will continue to opt-in owing to a meaningful and explicit value exchange.

But it doesn’t necessarily follow that companies should immediately pursue consent to share personal information. As Godin once observed; marketing is like dating — you don’t ask for the second date right away, but instead develop a rapport first.

The secret to long-lasting relationships

To build robust bonds with customers that encourage them to willingly share data, good timing is vital. If a business goes in too early with asking consumers to part with personally identifiable information, such as their name or email address, it may lose a customer’s permission to use data entirely. And failure to obtain consent creates a risk of breaching the GDPR. So what is the answer?

Ideally marketers must first establish a viable value exchange – where data is made accessible in return for personalised content – in addition to providing experiences that meet consumer expectations of unified cross-channel communications. Doing so will not only increase the chances of obtaining data, but also help drive higher customer satisfaction and greater brand loyalty, by providing users with a sense of convenience, relevance, and personalisation.

Here are four steps marketers can take to meet these objectives:

  1. Focus on customer-centricity

Focussing on channels as separate entities may mean businesses view events in isolation and are unable to connect the dots between various consumer touchpoints. Let’s face it; no one wants to see an advertisement on their laptop for the item they bought last week on their mobile. This makes it crucial to take a customer-first approach, which prioritises the consumer’s experience by seeking to build a holistic view of individual activity through data unification and identifying unique preferences. By merging event-level data across devices, businesses can gain a precise understanding of which tactics, channels, and devices work best for specific consumers and manage communications appropriately.

  1. Personalise their experience

Whether they are paying a utility bill or choosing a mortgage provider, customers crave convenience and relevance. Aside from providing a service that matches their request, personalising an experience guarantees to delight audiences; creating brand satisfaction and long-term loyalty. In the face of so much competition, businesses that deliver personalised experiences will be ahead of the game; something that 94% of marketers acknowledge and strive for.

  1. Improve continuity across channels

Many companies fail to deliver a seamless experience across touch points. In fact, research shows that, only 30% of small businesses have optimised their website for mobile; meaning – if they sell goods and services online – they could be missing out on their share of a £27bn mobile shopping boom. Businesses should ensure their data is connected across departments within their organisations, so they can build a 360-degree profile of consumers and use this to deliver consistent messaging across channels. This will help companies stay customer-focused and think of the customer as one, regardless of channel or device.

  1. Make it speedy and seamless

Businesses have to be adaptable in real time; customer needs can change at lightning speed and companies must modify their marketing, sales, and services to be responsive and deliver the next best conversation. In a hyper-connected world, where consumers often dual-screen and their interest is captivated for only a few fleeting moments, every second counts. Companies need to orchestrate the data they have been given consent to use, to communicate with their customers in a meaningful way. This will ensure that real-time data is continually integrated into customer platforms, creating 360-degree profiles. This, in turn, means messages delivered to specific users based on profile data will always have in-the-moment relevance.

Companies have interpreted the new era of consent in varying shades of GDPR-compliance, with even some of the big players still getting their heads around the concept of ‘reasonable compliance’. But, whether a business opts to comply by sending emails with unsubscribe buttons, displaying consent opt-ins on their website landing page, or otherwise, three things are for sure.

Firstly, organisations must obtain explicit consent to collect, process, and store personally identifiable information for a legitimate use.

Secondly, it is crucial to understand and make real connections with customers before requesting consent.

And finally, maintaining positive customer relations isn’t a one-and-done process. If marketers want to win and keep consumer trust, they must consistently deliver seamless, data-driven, and personalised experiences that make data sharing worthwhile.


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