In our last post we explored the role defining your data landscape plays in tackling the question ‘do we have the data to answer that?’. But with your landscape defined and the question asked, what happens if the answer is ‘no’?
Data gaps come in many forms, from incomplete personal information (eg missing DOBs, where you like to holiday, size of household) to incomplete transactional data (eg we know how you use one of our products, but what about the rest?); to organisational gaps (eg Customer Services know your car breaks down on the M6 once every year, but no-one has told Marketing).
I don’t propose to explore the nuts and bolts of data generation here. That’s because, now more than ever, what you collect is inextricably linked with how you collect it – and it’s the how we’ll be focusing on.
Recently, Occam’s sister company Amaze One researched how consumers feel about the way brands handle their personal data. You can explore the results here, but the picture that emerged was one of disaffected consumers, tired of handing over data for what they perceive as very little in return.
Why the value exchange matters
This imbalance in the value exchange has been masked by the fact that brands keep asking for data and consumers keep sharing it. So if they are still sharing, where is the evidence that consumers feel short-changed?
The growth in use of tools such as Google’s preferences on Chrome and Gmail is one pointer. Increases in adblocking, which grew globally by 90% between 2015 and 2016, are another. Amaze One’s research tells us that 70% of consumers are concerned about the way personal information is collected, while 4 out of 5 have concerns about the way their data is sourced, captured and sold.
Consumers, it seems, haven’t been offering data because they feel an overbearing need to share. They’ve been accepting the release of a bare minimum of personal data out of resignation – hardly the basis for a great relationship!
Creating a better value exchange matters if we are to reverse the growing numbers of consumers ‘punishing’ brands. It matters because more data – and more valuable data - comes from a better value exchange data capture strategy. And it matters because, in a potential post-GDPR world where we want consumers to give brands permission to engage, we need to give them better reasons to do so.
How to create a better value exchange
How do brands encourage consumers to part with more and better information willingly?
1. Start with trust
Overwhelmingly, consumers said elements such as trust and control mattered most. There were variances depending on age, but the natural levels of mistrust (particularly among older age groups) showed that, before offers can make an impact, first brands need to establish these hygiene factors. So transparency in opt-ins, permissions and deleting data is an essential first step.
2. Treat data as a privilege, not a right
Once permission to engage has been given, brands should listen to what the consumer has said, and give them what they have asked /signed up for.
Cyclical audits of the data lifecycle, from initial collection through to profiling, should drive content and communications, and explore opportunities to educate and build trust as a precursor to filling data gaps.
3. One size does not fit all
What you offer in return for the declaration of data by customers should take account of what is most valued (by them, not you). What works varies by age, sex and affluence, so it is essential for brands to use attitudinal data to create a value exchange segmentation that can be applied to customers and enquirers alike.
4. Avoid appearing mechanical or cynical
Every communication should have a point, implicitly demonstrating to consumers that you are valuing, not exploiting, their permission to engage.
How do brands enable these strategies? They do it by investing in the people, processes and technology that can turn data into a valuable asset – and that will be the subject of our next post.
Until then, here are 3 simple data gathering strategies that can create a better value exchange:
1. Make opt-ins and permissions big, bold and obvious: Transparent opt-ins build trust and enhance feelings of control. Don’t hide them in the small print. Make them a feature, not an afterthought.
2. Only ask for what you need: Consumers can’t feel in control of a relationship where they’re asked for large amounts of seemingly unrelated and irrelevant information. Relevance helps build trust.
3. Make it progressive: Build your data capture strategy in proportion to your developing relationship. So instead of asking for everything up front in a move perceived as a cynical data grab, start with the bare minimum, and build the data pool over time.
Paul Kennedy, Data Strategy Director at Amaze One (part of the St Ives Group)