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Why trust trumps offers


I have a friend who’s in a relatively new relationship. To get in with his new love’s children he’s spent the last few weeks in a game of one-upmanship with himself, topping last week’s offer of a new Xbox game with this week’s bribe of theme park tickets. But here’s the thing: when he makes even the slightest attempt to engage with the kids, the youngest claps his hands over his ears, screws his eyes shut tight and makes a noise like a police siren.

I know what it feels like to have people pretend you don’t exist: I work in marketing, after all. But my friend’s woes reflect another marketing principle, recently discovered as part of research carried out by Amaze One: when it comes to sharing personal data, trust trumps offers.

1. Trust trumps offers

When Amaze One asked consumers what they wanted in return for their personal data, the overwhelming response was not rewards and offers, but something far more fundamental to building long lasting relationships.

The research shows 70% of consumers are concerned about the way personal information is collected. 4 out of 5 have concerns about the way their data is sourced and sold. What consumers want first from brands is trust.

That’s not to say offers will never have an effect, nor that offers aren’t effective with some demographics (our research showed younger age groups can be swayed by rewards in return for data sharing). But in general, and in order to give offers a solid foundation on which to build, the hygiene factor of trust needs to be in place first.

That trust is founded on a number of elements, so here are 4 more things that brands should put in place before relying on offers and rewards to encourage customers to share their data.

2. Transparency trumps offers

Permissions have never mattered more. By 2018 the opportunity to engage will be reliant on explicit permissions, and if brands want that permission they’ll need to look again at what they are offering in exchange.

Our research revealed a sliding scale for divulging information. Name, age and email are the details most willingly shared, while social media logons are the most guarded. The research showed that one of the keys to encouraging consumers to share more high value information was transparency.

How do you build transparency?

  1. Develop open preference controls so opt-ins are personal and relevant
  2. Ask for data progressively rather than all up front, and for specific access rather than blanket permission
  3. Make opt in copy work harder. Don’t hide it in the small print. Make it honest, upfront and explicit - a feature of the content, not an afterthought

3. Control trumps offers

In Amaze One’s research, only 18% of respondents felt they had some degree of control over their data. Almost half of respondents said the ability to delete information held about them would create a greater feeling of trust. What’s more, consumers told us that when control is released to them, they will not block, delete or unsubscribe; they will share more, provided their content preferences are met (see below).

How do you place greater control in the hands of consumers?

  1. Give them the open, honest and transparent facility to disengage
  2. Communicate with consumers using their preferred channels: in our survey, ‘transactional’ channels of email and in store were much preferred to the ‘personal’ routes of SMS and social.
  3. Develop a ‘single customer view’ of contacts, using and refining customer data to ensure it supports consistent communications

4. Engagement trumps offers

Traditionally, brands have been reluctant to vary their tone of voice for fear of diluting the brand. Yet our research shows that adjusting the tone of voice for each market segment, rather than having a single house style, is essential to engaging.

According to our research, attention-grabbing impact and entertainment may matter for younger audiences (making video or gamification effective levers), but older age groups seek out the content they know they like from the channels they already know. If there is a common denominator, it is being informative and easy to understand, which ticks most boxes with most demographics, whether split by age, gender or affluence.

And whilst it may hardly be a new idea in marketing, the need to engage audiences by group/segment (rather than one size fits all) remains key.

5. Content trumps offers

Our research showed that younger age groups consume more content across a wider range of channels, and expect it to be instant. As consumers age, they prefer consistent touchpoints, whilst younger consumers are prepared to experiment with new ones. Older groups have the lowest tolerance of irrelevance. They are the age group most likely to opt out if presented with badly timed or poorly presented communications.

So content should be:

  1. Dynamic, with the capacity for tailoring at an individual level
  2. Part of a content strategy that adapts according to customer
  3. Use insight inferred from past consumer behaviours

Hardly revolutionary stuff, but when many brands and businesses are finding it difficult to keep pace with the last generation, let alone this gen and next gen, it bears repeating.

Release the offers!

My friend won’t thank me for saying it, but brands are in a similar position to him. If we want our offers to mean something, to be part of an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship, then we have to take a step back. We have to stop throwing rewards at people who, whilst happily snapping them up, will then clam up, shut their eyes and make police siren noises the moment we try to engage.

With the ‘hygiene’ factors of trust and control in place, 30% of consumers told Amaze One they would be influenced by the rewards on offer. But first, we have to earn the right to make that offer.

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