Customer Data Deluge Overwhelms Brands

Posted on by Susan Frech

will-robinsonIs the volume of customer data coming your way overwhelming? It doesn’t take the intelligence of a robot to think, “Danger, Will Robinson!” As technology lets marketers collect more information than ever dreamed possible, we need to be prepared to use that data properly—or become lost in space.

When we ask customers to share, tell us their shopping preferences and lifestyle activities, or show photos of their latest grocery haul, we must deliver relevant content. Otherwise, we risk of losing trust and interest.

The problem is that study after study has shown that consumers think brands don’t understand them as individuals. Even more troubling is the fact that despite new data-capture capabilities, many brands admit they are ill-equipped to customize conversations with consumers.

When brands ask customers to share personal information, they’re entering into a sacred pact, with the expectation that customers (and their insights)) will be treated with respect. They expect personalized communications in exchange for that data. This pact is so important because the customers who share are the most valuable. The sharing gives brands the potential to build a rich, fruitful, two-way and create influential advocates.

But there are potential pitfalls. The first instinct when brands gather customer information is to try to sell them something. That’s wrong. Take a look at something like the Nike+ community. The entire premise of the community is around leveraging data. They know that to serve their customers, they must focus their community around the quantified self.

One study found that 80% of companies don’t know their customers beyond basic demographics and purchase history. It’s imperative to dig past purchase behavior and understand a customer’s lifestyle as well as their mindset along the path to purchase. Don’t forget to create a feedback loop. Let consumers know that because you know XYZ about them, they are receiving ABC offer. This helps.

When one of our clients wanted to promote their philanthropic initiatives, they knew the most powerful consumer advocates were going to be aligned with the underlying mission. To find those consumers, the brand leveraged key survey data and demographic data from a community of advocates. By identifying not only advocates who align well demographically, but also those with an emotional connection, they were able to supercharge the word-of-mouth surrounding their charitable causes.

Aligning your CRM with other customer-data centers is daunting. To become a brand your customers trust, the first step is to fix what’s broken internally, and then to develop content, offers and promotions that your customers perceive as helpful and relevant to them and only them. Then, you’ve got a real conversation going.

Susan Frech is CEO of Social Media Link.



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