Personalization is a hot topic among digital marketers today—and for good reason. Customers are bombarded by far more marketing messages than ever before across a broader breadth of channels. Fortunately, creating a relevant, personalized dialogue between brand and customer can cut through that clutter to drive engagement, boost sales, and increase conversions. In fact, according to research from Conversant, 77% of marketers agree that individualized messages and offers can be more effective than mass messages and offers.
Improved response rates, repeat purchases, increased average revenue – they’re only a handful of perks that help make a strong business case for personalization. Yet, of the 81% of consumers that stated they receive more personalized marketing messages than five years ago, a whopping 70% of them feel that attempts at personalization are superficial, according to a study completed by Economist Intelligence Unit.
The right data can change all that by acting as the fuel that drives the engine of personalization.
Armed with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate consumer information, marketers can deliver a deeply personalized customer experience that drives revenue across every channel. After all, marketers who are passionate about data know that leveraging the right information will allow them to reach the right customers with relevant, compelling communications—and heat up customer relationships.
With so much data to offer, however, knowing which will most effectively stoke the fires of marketing can be a challenge. There are six steps marketers should take to discern good data from bad.
1. Understand What Makes Great Data: Authoritative, Real Time, Verified
Today, ensuring that data is accurate and up-to-date isn’t only important, it’s business critical. After all, the right data can help digital marketers better cater to customers’ unique buying habits and product preferences through personalized communications—and increase sales and conversions, as a result.
“The more tailored the message to a customer or prospect, the more likely they are to engage and have a longer and more profitable lifecycle with the brand,” says Rob Gatto, senior vice president of marketing services at Neustar. “Everybody wants to be treated like they’re known.”
That reality comes with a catch, according to Gatto. “There’s a much greater opportunity for personalization because of the wealth of information available,” he says, adding that it’s critical that the information be clean and accurate—and used wisely. Imagine, for example, delivering digital coupons for diapers to a 19-year-old male without any children. “If you get it wrong, personalization can backfire,” Gatto warns.
For this reason, savvy digital marketers use authoritative data sets to gain a comprehensive, current portrait of every customer. What’s more, this information needs to be constantly updated for the greatest accuracy, ensuring that marketers have the information they need to personalize each customer dialogue, from the moment it starts.
Consider, for example, an auto manufacturer that forwards leads to local dealers based on manually input consumer address data. By implementing a verification system, processing the leads can be automated, thereby eliminating the inaccuracies of manual data entry while boosting the number of accurate leads sent to the correct dealers. The resulting improved follow-up can lead to significant revenue gains for the dealers and the manufacturer.
2. Connect and Match Customer Data
Many marketers know what it takes to deliver personalized communications to customers who are interacting through such individual channels as a call center, a mobile website, or a brick- and-mortar location. “The real challenge now is how to link all of those touchpoints so that if I connect with a customer through a call center, I can also deliv- er a consistent Web experience or brick-and-mortar experience,” Gatto says. “Organizations do a decent job of creating a personalized experience in any given silo. The longer-term value and real benefits, though, come from connecting all of those channels.”
To connect and match customer data across channels, Gatto says, digital marketers require “a key” that will unlock the common data points that exist across those channels. The result is a single, 360-degree view of customers that lets marketers reach the right people across all touchpoints. By linking consumer in- formation and online behaviors to offline sales, marketers can better determine who their customers are, what offers might be right for them, and which channels preferred communication modes. Marketers who then act on that data can expect higher retention rates and a more profitable customer lifetime value.
3. Verify the Accuracy of Customer Data
Even the most carefully collected consumer information is meaningless if it hasn’t been properly verified. In fact, verifying the identity and contact information for every customer and prospect—including landline and mobile numbers and email and mailing addresses—is critical to achieving personalized dialogue with customers.
Consider this: About 45 million people change their phone numbers each year and another 16 million people move. Others switch phone carriers, change email providers, or buy new computers. Because of these ever-changing elements of a consumer’s identity, many marketers struggle to get messages to their intended targets.
Having complete, verified consumer information can improve marketing results dramatically. Take, for example, a retail bank that’s looking to expand its brick-and-mortar locations. By analyzing accurate and up-to-date consumer data, and matching it with consumer attributes, the financial institution can pinpoint locations with high-growth potential, as well as identify underserved regions. Suddenly, dead-ends are eliminated while verification processes ensure that marketers can deliver the most relevant and focused offers to drive revenue.
But the best part is that verification can ensure that marketers match data sets using “a privacy-compliant approach,” Gatto says. As a result, marketers can significantly mitigate the risks of violating TCPA and Do-Not-Call regulations using technology that verifies consumer contact information in real time.
4. Keep Your Customer Data Fresh
Creating a portrait of every customer and prospect using authoritative data sets is only the first step towards fueling a marketing engine with accurate data. Rather, once marketers validate customer information, they need to ensure that contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses, as well as other customer data sets, are always up-to-date for the greatest value across all inbound and outbound marketing efforts. In fact, failing to ensure currency can result in phantom leads, non-functional contact channels, or worse, inadvertent violations of regulations like Do-Not-Call and TCPA.
The challenge for many marketers, however, is implementing a system to keep customer information accurate. Publicly available information for U.S. households has plummeted by 60% since 2000. As a result, most marketers require access to complete and authoritative business data from trusted sources—information that has been verified and corroborated for accuracy by industry experts.
In addition to selecting the right third-party verification partner, it’s important that marketers establish on- going verification procedures across their business. By eliminating the effort and expense of contacting non-functioning emails, non-working phone numbers, and non-existent addresses, these marketers can gain efficiency and a greater return on marketing spend.
5. Link Cross-Channel Customer Data
More and more marketers are creating personalized customer journeys that link both on and offline channel experiences. But reams of data can actually obscure a marketer’s 360-degree view of a customer’s experience. As a result, marketing spend may be allocated to less-profitable customer segments, while high-performing segments are left underserved.
To enhance visibility, savvy marketers are linking cross-channel customer data. By integrating on- and offline channel data and augmenting it with proprietary data, marketers can determine who are their best customers, what are the most effective channels in terms of cost and ROI to reach them, and how best to personalize messages for specific customers. As a result, marketers can quickly identify their most profitable segments and create more relevant messages based on real-time insight across multiple channels.
“There are lots of people who have access to data,” says Gatto. “But there are few people who can segment their data and drive decisions out of it in real time. Whether it’s when a customer picks up the phone or visits a website, the real value is in being able to use cross-channel customer data and make an on-the-spot decision.”
6. Respect and Safeguard Your Customers’ Privacy
Personalization can drive revenue and increase customer satisfaction. But marketers must walk a fine line between offering relevant content and personalized communications and respecting consumers’ privacy rights. “Privacy is extremely contextual, so the question of where to draw the line is often a hard question to answer,” says Becky Burr, chief privacy officer at Neustar. “Privacy is really an issue of control: Does consumers know what a marketer is up to and do they have reasonable choices with respect to privacy.”
To walk this fine line safely, there are a number of key processes marketers should embrace. For one, it’s critical that marketers adopt “Privacy by Design” principles. Rather than a last-minute thought, Privacy by Design dictates that personal privacy is taken into consideration throughout the entire process of designing, building, and delivering information.
Next, marketers should identify customers accurately across platforms, but address them in a privacy-centric manner. For example, segmenting consum- ers by demographic and psychographic qualities can ensure accurate, anon- ymous targeting without sacrificing individual privacy. And finally, Gatto recommends that “every marketing department have a privacy officer” in place to enforce these policies.
Burr believes that a code of conduct also can go a long way towards ensuring customers’ privacy is respected. For instance, cookies should not contain or convey personal information about consumers. And users should have a safe and easy way to opt out of a personalized marketing campaign.
Ultimately, “marketers want to use information in a respectful way to make content relevant to consumers because consumers value relevant advertis- ing,” Burr says. “The question is what are the protections around using that data for other purposes and how do you protect against misuse.” For many marketers, the answer is conducting a privacy risk assessment on a regular basis to ensure continued Privacy by Design.
The Power of Customer Intelligence
All too often the success of a marketing campaign hinges on the quality of customer intelligence. But while it’s true that marketing messages only work when they reach the right audience, it’s important to protect customers’ privacy.
The good news is there are a number of ways marketers can use data for good. These include:
- Understand what it means to have data that is authoritative, real time, and verified
- Connect and match customer data
- Verify the accuracy of customer data
- Implement a system and processes to keep customer information up to date
- Link cross-channel customer data
- Establish processes to ensure customers’ privacy is respected
By following these six steps, marketers can take advantage of complete, verified consumer information to dramatically improve the results of marketing inbound or outbound across multiple channels.
CASE STUDY: Adelphic
For a firm that specializes in connecting its clients with mobile audiences, data accuracy is key. That’s why Adelphic turned to Neustar.
Adelphic offers a DSP (demand side platform) designed to help top brands connect with mobile audiences to drive consumer behavior across the purchase funnel. The company was working with a major satellite service provider to help it reach its customers on mobile devices. Unfortunately, a lack of persistent ID in mobile makes it incredibly difficult for companies to market directly to this elusive audience. In fact, the satellite service provider’s click-through rate was a mere 0.34 percent. But that all changed when Adelphic blended Neustar’s offline data on brand preferences with its client’s mobile audience data. Adelphic was able to double the client’s click-through rate to 0.67%.
It’s a significant accomplishment due in large part to Neustar’s ability to verify data at the household level so that the satellite service provider could target its competitor’s customers using personalized messaging and targeted officers.
Additionally, Adelphic was able to enhance its platform by offering clients self-service forecasting and targeting of Neustar data through its DSP. As a result, clients such as the satellite service provider can build audience segments, run their own forecasts, and apply real-time insights to their campaigns with the confidence that the data they’re accessing is accurate and up-to-date.