Customer data must be earned rather than expected


Consumers are becoming more wary about handing over their data, and the old incentives are not working. If brands want to prevent this from eroding loyalty, they need to think harder about how being on a marketing database benefits a customer.

As Marketing Week reported on 23 June, store cards, discounts and free samples are all less likely to convince a consumer to give up their details than they were in September last year. That is according to the results of the latest Data Tracker survey published by research company fast.MAP and the Direct Marketing Association.

Some of the most striking findings concern willingness to hand over email addresses. Along with a name and postal address, it is one of the pieces of personal data individuals are most comfortable sharing. But they have become less comfortable doing so in a number of circumstances since the last survey.

When requesting a quote, for example, only 47% say they would give an email address, down from 68%. Only 19% would give one to a cause they have pledged to support, down from 40%.

It is not a good sign for data marketers as a whole if the public sees no benefit in giving up their data. Brands cannot simply see it as routine, and expect the unquestioning hordes to acquiesce.

In April, Marketing Week wrote that loyalty schemes should be about loyalty, not discounts. It seems that the seed is still falling on barren ground. Customers are simply not engaged with brands’ methods of data marketing.

Discounts are becoming the norm in many sectors, as businesses seek to drive volume and keep people coming through the doors in a time of low consumer confidence. So people are perhaps beginning to believe they can access lower prices whether they hand over their details or not.

Brands need to start making their customers feel special with their reward programmes. That does not mean getting discounts that are little different from the hundreds of others that anyone could get a few days later because of dynamic pricing.

Rewards mean real added value and unique experiences. Working out what those might be requires brands to be inventive. They might mean forming partnerships with providers in other sectors, for example.

Whatever the method, brands should not carry on believing consumers will give up their data regardless, just because they are used to doing so. As the research shows, they will always want to know what’s in it for them.

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