Don’t be a creep when it comes to using customer data

Collecting and using data is a sensitive subject.  On one hand, you want to collect as much data as possible so that you can fully understand your customers and personalize marketing messages – the end goal being customer influence.

On the other hand, leveraging what you know about a customer can be pretty creepy.  Remember the Target example – when Target knows a girl is pregnant before her father does.  Well, that’s an example of how a company can get to the creepy side.

Ultimately it’s about being transparent and respectful at all times, but don’t let it decrease your creativity.  Below are 5 ways in which you can capture and leverage big data, while maintaining your level of creepiness low.

1. Make it very clear how your plan to use the data

First, cover your bases completely in your Terms of Use page and your Privacy Policy page.  It’s very important to make it clear (from the legal standpoint) about how you plan to use the data.

Second of all, write a laman’s version of how you plan to use your data on a separate page on your site.  This can perhaps be in a blog post.  Let your customers know that you collect certain data so that you can better service them.  By being transparent and clear about how you plan to use the data, then customers will feel safer and more secure.

Also, make sure to let them know that you’re NOT reselling their data.

2. Make the personalization feel casual

When you make personalization too personal, then customers start feeling a little weird and over exposed.  When Target initially sent out ads to women who were most likely pregnant, they specifically only sent out baby-related ads.  If a woman sees only baby-related products, she may feel a little strange and think, “how does Target know that I’m pregnant?”  She may feel like you’re trying to manipulate her.

Target quickly realized their mistake and changed their advertisements.  They now send targeted ads alongside random ads.  For example, if they’re targeting a women who is likely pregnant, then they’ll send a baby-product ad next to a kitchen-appliance ad.  In this case, the woman doesn’t feel overexposed, but she still sees the baby-product advertisement.

3. Text message at most twice a month

Texts are a great way to directly reach a customer and cause action immediately.  A great example is to use text-message marketing to fill empty seats during a slow day at your restaurant.

However, if you overuse text messages, then customers can quickly unsubscribe from your marketing messages and no longer trust your company.  For this reason, we recommend that you send at most 2 text messages per month to your customers.  In this way, customers don’t feel bombarded by messages from you, but you’re still able to impact customers and leverage a following multiple times a month.

4. Allow easy opt-outs

As a follow up to point #3, make sure to make it very easy for your customers to opt-out of your marketing, advertising, and loyalty programs.  Customers should be able to opt-out with a an easy click of the button.

If they have to jump through hoops, call customer service, and go through a long, drawn out process to opt-out, then you may lose more than an email subscriber – you may lose a customer.

5. Give customers a reason to give you their data

The perfect example of this is to provide customers with a rewards program.  A customer joins a rewards program for one simple reason – to get free stuff.  In return, you get access to the customer’s valuable information – it’s a win-win scenario.

Focus on the above 5 points and you and your customers will build a long, healthy, and very personal relationship.


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