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Data is the only way marketers can offer customers the relevance they demand

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Personalisation is nothing new. As long as there have been shops, customers have had unique, personal and relevant experience, whether buying goods or just browsing. The dawn of the Internet brought with it exponential growth in the production of personal data. Data is the source of insights about customers and potential customers that brands, advertisers and marketers can use to have relevant dialogue.

According to DMA’s recent Customer Engagement research into retail, 33% of customers prefer to receive tailored offers and deals from their favourite brands above any other type of content. Delivering tailored, relevant information to a customer or potential customer is not possible without data. The research also shows that customers are open to taking this one step further: 40% said they were interested in a service that reminded them about upcoming birthdays and gave relevant suggestions on what to buy, rising to two thirds of 25-34 year olds. This is an example of a useful service that customers would like, but cannot exist without the sharing of some data.

Data comes from a range of different sources, provided the customer has given consent. They could be interactions with a brand (first party data), a brand partner (second party data) or via businesses who collect insights on customers (third party data). Third party data, when combined with first party insight, can help businesses better understand their customers and meet their needs.

Today marketers can improve the relevancy of their advertising by combining data sets. For example, let’s consider a brand that wants to reach people both on TV and online because the combination is known to be greater than either in isolation. The brand might want to combine the brand’s own first party data with third party data from TV behaviour, matching the data sets in order to serve the right ads to the right people at the right time so they see the messages both on TV and online.

The key to delivering customers truly relevant messages is data, whether it’s using weather and location to trigger specific offers or insight on their preferences from lifestyle data companies. So if it is sunny in Manchester and snowing in London a retailer can adjust its offer for each customer in an appropriate way. Weather information is an example of a third party ‘big data’ set that is readily available to all companies

Another data source are lifestyle information that is collected by consumers voluntarily filling out a survey, either online or offline. The lifestyle data company will ensure that it obtains the consent of the consumer that their data may be shared with third parties. Marketers can then use their own first party data, combined with third party data, to deliver more of the relevant messages that consumers prefer. A good example of a criteria that makes a difference is home ownership, as a home owner may be more likely to invest in their property than a tenant.

DMA research into consumer attitudes to privacy shows a marked decrease in those ideologically opposed to data sharing, dropping from 31% to 24% of the total between 2012 and 2015. More than half (54%) had a pragmatic outlook, considering what the pros and cons were when sharing data with a brand, while almost a quarter (22%) said they were not concerned either way about data sharing.

Persuading pragmatic consumers to share their information requires trust. Transparency is the key consideration here, with 62% of consumers wanting to understand the reason their data is required before deciding whether or not to share it. In addition, 53% would also like to know whether their information will be shared with third parties before deciding to share.

Data is essential for advertisers and marketers to make their messaging relevant to customers. First party data from within the brand is a key building block, but third party data can often be integral to providing a clearer picture of a customer’s preferences. The key is transparency about how a customer’s data will be used or is coming from. Doing this right builds a relationship based on a clear exchange of value between the business, looking to prosper, and customer, looking to benefit.

The high street shop has not gone away and customers can still get that personal touch every time they buy something. Being transparent about how you use data will ensure consumers trust your brand. The data that comes will help you give your customers and potential customers what they want, which will be better for both of you.

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