Avoid ‘infobesity’ and go on a data diet

There’s little doubt in my mind that the data revolution will continue to gather pace this year and brands need to be ready to try and keep up.

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Consumers are creating more data on a daily basis than ever before and this can be a blessing or a curse for marketers, as they attempt to make their campaigns stand out from the crowd.

With customers becoming more discerning, further refinement of your messages is a must, to make the most of all the available data. Firstly, marketers need to be sure to consider their usage of data from a consumer perspective. Questions like “how does what I’m doing here impact on privacy?” need to be addressed. Personalisation must only be used to add value to existing relationships.​

“Infobesity”: how marketers should go on a data diet

The digitalisation of our culture forces us to make some big decisions. On the one hand, the sky is the limit and our marketers can collect a virtually unlimited volume of information about their audiences. And it’s not a giant leap to take data-driven insights through to intelligent action.

On the other hand, marketing professionals, especially those from the ad-tech space, are in danger of ‘infobesity’ – sluggishness from an overload of information. There is a huge range of data types and an ever-growing selection of analysis techniques available, which can present a confusing environment.

Previous years have seen marketers step up to the challenge and analyse data with the aim to demonstrate a greater understanding of their audiences. But, to survive, and, crucially, to be effective in the 2016 data jungle marketers need to stop playing around the edges like they have been and make some big choices.

How close is too close?

On-going improvements to data privacy regulation provide businesses with an ideal opportunity to really start adding value to the customer journey. In a fast-paced, digitalised landscape, you need to ensure your audience engagement is always guided by what’s best for the customer. That means using your data to create more meaningful interactions and cutting down on wasted communications. The modern day customer demands that level of care and attention.

You can gain trust in the industry by offering consumers a meaningful choice. After all, isn’t it the case that we trust and rely on the advice of those who know us best? If you want to evaluate your relationship with consumers, start by asking yourself a couple of questions:

  • Did this individual come to me or am I seeking them?
  • What do they want from this relationship?

For many, to focus on relationships means being personal, but there is a threat of becoming too personal, given consumers’ concerns regarding their privacy.

We ran a survey in 2015 asking consumers whether they thoughts personalisation was ‘cool’ or ‘creepy’. 80% of the respondents selected neither of these options, but elaborated on the topic saying that they accept the use of their data if it has added value to their experience. Establishing whether value has been added is therefore a crucial step to building an effective campaign.

Balancing insights with strong customer relationships

This takes us back to the power of strong relationships – consumers appreciate personalisation as long as they see value in return and trust your brand. Consumers don’t like receiving generic information that is of no interest to them, but irrelevant messages from a company they don’t trust have every potential to be labelled as ‘annoying’.

In light of these reflections, the context of communication becomes a key consideration in enabling you to deliver intelligent personalisation. Understand the consumer and the journey they’re on, and put them at the heart of the engagement. Ask yourself the following:

  • Is your customer going to value the discount that you’re about to offer them?
  • Is it the right time to talk to them about it?

This brings us back to the importance of accurate data – it’s obvious you need to know your customer to be able to answer those questions. Our 2015 Digital Marketer report highlighted the issues faced by marketers trying to get to know their customers better. Lack of internal resources, unsuitable technology and inaccurate data are among the main barriers preventing marketers from getting under the skin of their customers and building strong relationships, leading to interactions that miss the beat.

Once these technologies are in place, it’s using them intelligently and with respect for privacy that counts for a great deal.

Reaching equilibrium between personalisation and privacy is one goal for marketers in 2016, along with understanding the customer journeys and ensuring that they are put first. It means using large amounts of data and powerful technology in a thoughtful and responsible manner. Equipped with deep and accurate data, marketers can substantially reduce the risk of getting too close and annoying customers and potential customers.

Preference centres will help – being a useful source of data for personalisation they will enable brands to offer people what they have actually asked for, whether that’s a type of message, product, channel or frequency of communication.

The data they provide will also support marketers in their efforts to build meaningful and trusted relationships with their customers. This will be the key to achieving future success.

by Tom Blacksell, Experian.