The components that make up the customer journey, such as time, savings and reduced friction, are becoming increasingly commoditized. The currency your customers use to purchase that commodity is personal data. Pay back their investment with interest.
In Homer’s epic poems, Odysseus visits 14 locations in his long, resolute journey. Today’s customer journey makes many stops as well. Perhaps they won’t see a Cyclops, Sirens and Lotus Eaters along the way, but that journey likely includes mobile devices, smart speakers, and the latest IoT gadgets.
Odysseus often hid his identity through a variety of disguises and nicknames. While some customers will hide their own identities through various means, a large majority of them expect to be known over a course of increasingly personalized experiences.
A lack of any real personalization breeds friction for your customer and trouble for your business. Check out these statistics:
The answer is yes, but our reactions are contingent and situational. The Pew Research Center found that 6 in 10 U.S. adults “do not think it is possible to go through daily life without having data collected about them by companies or the government.” This includes both online and offline activities. The tone of the report is not particularity upbeat; most respondents reporting “a lost sense of control” or other negative responses.
Even so, respondents admit there are times and types of data collection that are acceptable. Generally, we recognize benefits to living in a data-driven environment when it is about improving education or increasing national security. This may be why surveys record a little more comfort with the government collecting data: 81% of Americans think the potential risks of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits, and 66% say the same about government collection of personal data.
Realizing who sees our data and how that data is used calibrates our level of concern. This is how it is possible for us to seek laws protecting privacy (such as the GDPR in Europe and the CCPA and CPRA in North America) while at the same time willingly offering up personal information almost daily. This is true for both our home and our work lives.
In our work lives, we provide email addresses and business phone numbers to download documents and videos. Just acquiring the tools we need to do our jobs requires us to check boxes of online privacy statements—sometimes we even read the declarations. We accept cookies almost out of muscle memory. Home life is little different as we exchange this same data for special offers, “free” mobile apps, and social media access.
At work, and working from home, we trust the VPN and the measures employed by our IT staff to keep our data safe. When it comes to working on our private devices in our homes, we trust that we maintain some control simply through possession of the physical devices. Both views are flawed for several practical reasons.
From the consumer standpoint, there are few tears for the slow death of third-party cookies. As stated above, it matters whether we offer our information willingly. It’s that “sense of control” Pew respondents were missing—but it’s more. We assign trust to the brands we like with the same lack of fear we exhibit lending our car keys to a friend. We tell ourselves nothing bad is likely to happen, and if anything does, we can work that out if that time comes.
Consumers are willing to provide personal information as long as that information is used in a transparent way and in a manner that satisfies them, according to a Salesforce.com report. The benefits come in the form of convenience and improved experience, and the numbers indicate that value is recognized by a great majority of people. Here is more to back up that notion:
So, with the risks and the skepticism we’ve described earlier, how can this be? The answer is the value gained. Increasingly, every experience is a digital experience, and at some point, time, savings, and reduced friction became commoditized. The currency we use to purchase that commodity is our personal data. That is our perspective as consumers, but as businesspeople trading on that value, we need to reorient that.
Like any other currency exchange, this transaction comes with some expectations. Of course, responsible use and privacy concerns are paramount. These should be clearly stated, easily found, and strictly adhered to once terms are accepted. We at Progress have some excellent resources on privacy solutions.
Great brands acknowledge that customers can spend their capital with anyone. The same is true with personal information, even some things as basic as email addresses and names. Of course, communications should be personalized. But the level of familiarity in communication should match the level of affinity with your brand.
For current customers, email marketing firms differ on the effectiveness of simpler personalization, such as including a customer name in the subject line or sending birthday wishes. Some downplay the effectiveness of these as too obvious and clichéd to impress today’s audience. Others insist this type of messaging should be a staple of every nurturing campaign. Customers expect you to have this contact information, but they also expect emails to be combined with relevant offers that are crafted for their benefit.
Addressing an unknown prospect by name in first touch emails for top-of-funnel marketing may have a lesser effect and can appear to same as too familiar or assuming. It is highly dependent on the details of the campaign and represents an excellent opportunity for A/B testing.
Finally, pay back the investment with interest. And not just with a generic follow-up email either. Make certain every interaction is clear, tested and has the potential to increase a customer’s (or potential customer’s) level of digital maturity.
To get home, Odysseus had to stay on course even though the journey had some turns. He had to avoid the deceptive sounds of the Sirens and find the right course. It took a long time to get home—ten years, in fact. Your customer’s own journey may not be a decade long, but it will be presented with distractions, challenges, and delays as well. Planning a thoughtful customer journey with the right uses of personalization is the only sure way to lead them home.
Sitefinity Insight charts a customer journey that creates a successful path for your customers with provable return on investment and epic results. Learn more about Sitefinity and Sitefinity Insight today.
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J.D. Little is a Senior CMS Market Strategist, a creative communicator, an educator and an advocate for change. Beginning his career in traditional media technology, he has been helping business leaders navigate the waves of disruptive innovation for more than 25 years.
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