When it comes to creating the best, most seamless customer experiences, a brand can only be as good as its understanding of its customers. According to a recent consumer marketing survey by Selligent Marketing Cloud, it’s clear people expect more personalized engagement from brands but are hesitant to allow them access to their individual data, making it extremely challenging for brand marketers to succeed. Of the 7,000 consumers surveyed across the US and Europe, 33 percent expect brands to anticipate needs before they arise and a whopping 70 percent agree that it’s important that brands understand a consumer’s individual situation when they market to them, and not just use every communication as a chance to make a sale. Consumers want to be treated as individuals, with brands acting on their preferences, whether they pertain to the content of the messages, their frequency, or channel. When asked about segmentation, 74% of global respondents noted they expect companies to “treat me as an individual, not as a member of some segment like ‘millennials’ or ‘suburban mothers’.” The figure was slightly higher (77%) among US respondents.
The sticking point is that consumers, overall, welcome brands to engage with them, especially when the engagement is relevant and delivers a clear benefit to the consumer. This finding is particularly true when it pertains to geolocation marketing. However, when it comes to sharing the data that brands need to deliver the unique, personalized experiences they want — consumers are wary of cooperating. For example, 48% of global respondents (53% of North American respondents) said they would be happy if a movie theater sent information about the screen location and a refreshments coupon when they were going to the movies, but 75% of consumers are very concerned with a brand’s ability to track their behavior while on their website and in their apps. This contradiction presents a real challenge for marketers.
Data Practices and More Wary Consumers
Willingness to share data tracks with age, with Baby Boomers exhibiting the greatest reluctance and Millennials being the most open. When it comes to ‘willingness to receive an alert about a sale for a store I was passing by’ — 48% of Millennials welcomed geo-targeted ads while out shopping, compared to 43% of GenX and just 29% of Baby Boomers.
The good news for marketers is that it appears that over time, as consumers grow more digitally savvy, their willingness to share data will increase. Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about how their data is being captured and used, and this study shows they are also more open data-wise with brands they trust and when they see a lot of value. Smart marketers will take a much closer look at their data strategies and build data-driven marketing campaigns that deliver the tailored, relevant experiences consumers crave.
Brands are under pressure to do a better job of defining data strategies that capture information that actually matters to their businesses. But marketers should tread carefully: 40% of global respondents noted they are ‘more annoyed’ by companies’ communication strategies now compared to five years ago. Much of that, unsurprisingly, can be attributed to the seemingly endless requests for personal data. Only 1 in 5 consumers are willing to provide data to brands up-front in order to improve their experience, and if a brand’s request for data is deemed ‘too much,’ some consumers are willing to abandon the brand altogether (nearly 30% of respondents agree).
Additionally, heightened consumer awareness of the risk of data breaches creates a reluctance to provide data, posing big challenges for marketers. According to the survey, 75% of global respondents expressed concern about the threat of a data breach, and 88% report worries that their data will be shared amongst companies without their consent. In short, brands are having to do more highly personalized marketing while relying on wary consumers to share their data.
Tips to Reconcile New Data Strategies with Marketing Goals
The importance of data strategies in designing the best customer journeys comes down to a healthy mix of smart data aggregation and listening with intent. Finding the balance between gathering enough actionable data and not overstepping customers’ data boundaries is a tough feat for marketers, but when done well and focused, can result in two things: 1) delivering better-than-ever customer experiences, 2) informing stronger multichannel marketing campaigns.
A few tips to consider:
- Perform an audit on your current data strategies: In order to understand how to improve, brands must take a hard, close look at their current data practices with an eye for trimming data points. Chances are, most data strategies haven’t evolved much since implementation and the market requires them to be updated. Engagement behavior and channels have changed and the approach to data needs to reflect those changes.
- Implement listening strategies that matter: One could argue that listening strategies are as important as execution strategies when it comes to tracking customer engagement and history. Brands looking to improve their ability to deliver good customer journeys are reliant on knowing how customers are responding and communicating with the brand. Many tools offer such capabilities — sentiment analysis, spotlighting trends, red-flagging problem areas — but brands should look for tools that can be easily implemented into existing platforms. Calabrio recently partnered with Selligent Marketing Cloud to deliver these features.
- Stay focused: It can be tempting to want to do it all with regards to capturing and analyzing data, but an overly ambitious approach can drag down the brand. It’s your classic jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none conundrum. You’ll have mountains of data but no clear place to start when tasked with making that data actionable. Stay focused on what the brand is trying to accomplish with data, scale data strategies back when necessary, and openly communicate with your customers at all times. Keep those rules in mind to have confidence in your approach to data, clarity in marketing goals and clear measures of success.