How brands can humanize their data

Every brand is struggling with how to assure their customers that the data they share is being used to create a better experience for them, and not being used in an unregulated or malicious manner – or shared with parties who may misuse it. This is particularly true one year after GDPR, at a time when data privacy is front-and-center for most organizations. With so many major breaches in the headlines lately, marketers are challenged to find ways to build trust and improve one-to-one relationships with consumers.

As marketers become more entrenched in – and dependent upon – data, we must also find ways to humanize it, seamlessly adapting to changing consumer shopping habits with an experience that make them feel safe, valued and respected. This is what customers want, according to a recent eMarketer study: 90 percent of consumers surveyed said they were annoyed by irrelevant messages from brands, but 44 percent said they would switch to other brands that did a better job of personalizing the content they saw. Consumers want brands to see them, to know them, and to deliver the content and experiences that will make their lives better, easier or just more entertaining.
There are many approaches to this, involving technology and creativity, to improve the data-driven customer experience. Here are some strategies to consider as we work to thrive in the age of consumer data.

Put your analytics to work.

One of the most obvious ways is to use your analytics and other first-party data sources to tailor your content, experiences and products to your customer’s behaviors. Look at your first-party data, whether that’s your CRM, your website analytics or your mobile app data. Carefully review and analyze everything you can: Who are your customers? What are they buying – and not buying? Which content pieces (on your site, in your emails, on social, etc.) are they engaging with, and which are being ignored?

Pair this with location data from within stores and showrooms to gain an even deeper understanding of what your customers do and don’t like about your content, your locations and your inventory. By carefully reviewing and analyzing all this data over time, you will begin to get a clear picture of what each segment of your customer base likes and prefers about your brand. You’ll have the ability to bolster the things with which they engage, and potentially phase out the things that don’t interest them. You may find you need to rearrange store layouts, segment emails differently, or offer more dynamic, personalized content experiences on your website. Whatever you discover, reviewing and analyzing the data you already have on hand will help to create more personalized experience for your customers.

Live events for a real human touch.

Marketers have long used events like trade shows and conferences for lead generation, and this is still a strategy that drives results. Having actual humans meet other actual humans IRL is about as “personal” as marketing can get.

And while trade shows and conferences are tried-and-true venues, that doesn’t mean they’re the only venues marketers should consider. Taking a table or booth at a street fair in or near a secondary market is a great way to meet your audience. Set up a pop-up shop or stand in a mall. Create an “Instagram-able” experience, give out samples, raffle off gifts. Make sure everyone walks away with something, and you’ll spread goodwill across your customer base. (Make sure you train team members to be friendly, gregarious, and quick to offer a tablet to collect information!)

In this era of data-driven marketing, it’s important to remember that your target audience is composed entirely of humans. Each of those humans is an individual with needs and wants and concerns and feelings. Not only do they have a right to have their data kept safe, they deserve your respect and kindness. In addition to keeping their personal information secure (which we know is a priority for you), be sure to remind your customers how important they are. Give them the personalized, tailored experiences they want. Give them what they need to feel valued and special, while making their lives just a little bit easier and more enjoyable.

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