We all know the frustration of receiving constant streams of emails, texts and calls trying to sell us products with no relevance to us or our lifestyles. Car insurance when you don't own a car? Childcare, with no child to speak of? Misdirected marketing messages can range from the irritating to the damn right ridiculous.
This is where big data comes in. Unsurprisingly the response rates to physical and digital mailings significantly increase when the products you are being sold are not only relevant, but personalised and it is the use of big data which makes such personalisation and targeting possible.
However the collection and use of such vast streams of data can be detrimental to a company if not treated with respect. Dan Khon, Vice President of Corporate Maketing at Pitney Bowes talked about the issue in an interview (link to the article here) given to Computer World. In the interview he said: "When data is our goal, we've got to get there in a step-wise fashion and with respectâ€¦every interaction is a chance to build trust, or potentially wreck it".
Kohn went on to say that companies must be careful to strike the right balance between â€˜personalised' and â€˜pushy'. Often customers who receive over personalised mailings say they feel threatened by how much a company knows about them.
So it would seem that appropriate data management is a careful balancing act and it is becoming increasingly important for marketers to recognise the difference between appropriately and inappropriately requesting too much information and making sure this data is connected to their message and the customer.
Another pitfall in the collection and application of big data is security and privacy of data collected. If a customer is willing to share information with you and your company, this doesn't necessarily mean they are willing to share it with third parties. While consumers are aware of the value of their â€˜data' they also value their privacy. Kohn said consumers will often be protective over their data, but more willing to share if they see a benefit or reward in doing so.
In the following extract from the interview, Khon recommends the following 6 steps for better data management:
1) Ensure compliance with all local and federal data regulations and keep up with current legislation.
2) Get the basics right (name, address, etc.) before trying to develop the customer relationship further.
3) Be clear about your intention. Say why you would like to know more and explain the benefit of sharing the data to your customer.
4) Understand the limits of your brand. Do customers come to you because you do a simple service well? If so, don’t attempt to create a bigger “customer experience” where it may not be necessary or valued.
5) Don’t let data defeat you. Technology and support exists at every business level.
6) Close the loop on communications. Use what comes back from customers to fuel further conversations and provide rewards to customers that shared their data with you.