A 360-degree view of the consumer from this consumer’s point of view | Cardinal Path Blog
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A 360-degree view of the consumer from this consumer’s point of view

The marketer’s holy grail is this idea of creating a holistic view of the customer — and the potential data goldmine is lucrative, offering rich consumer insights that inform marketers’ strategies.

Where once we thought about having lead qualification information, purchase history and customer service request data, today marketers are able to get on extremely intimate terms with customers — sometimes welcome and sometimes not — and it creates some unease as well as opportunities.

This came to mind the other day when I got a cheery note (“Important Notice Regarding [our] Privacy Policy”) from my wireless carrier.

Lots of unease and opportunities here:

“Dear Valued Customer,” it began.

Really? This top telecomm provider didn’t have the wherewithal to figure out my first name and plug it into an email? And it came from the “Privacy Team.” C’mon, surely there is a responsible figurehead whose name could have been used to lend a touch of humanity.

OK, moving on…

“We know your privacy is important, so we’ve made it a priority to talk to you about it. We’re revising our Privacy Policy to make it easier to understand, and we want to point out two new programs that could help us and other businesses serve you better.”

The email goes on to say that one of the programs involves making reports — containing anonymous information about groups of customers and, potentially, how they collectively use certain of the carrier’s products and services — “available” to businesses.

Another uses “local geography as a factor in delivering online and mobile ads to the people who might find them most useful.”

The email then provides an email and mailing address to “provide feedback on the new policy” and goes even further with detailed information on each program and specific instructions for opting-out.

From the marketing best practices perspective, I give this communiquĂ© a “C.”

It provides customers with transparency about business practices involving their behavior with their products, and presents mechanisms for both responding to the policy and removing oneself from participation.

It doesn’t, however, ascend into “A” territory for a number of reasons that marketers need to keep in mind as we embark on technology-driven opportunities for offering our customers relevance, value and delight.

For one, this communication felt more like a legal requirement than a conversation between entities with a high stake in each other’s satisfaction. (“Dear Valued Customer” has never once made anyone feel valued.)

And then there’s the timeliness. How proactive might my carrier have seemed if they’d sent me this message before the internet started roiling about the New York Times July 14, 2013 story “Attention, Shoppers: Store Is Tracking Your Cell”?

Maybe it was coincidental, but getting this privacy policy update after the New York Times described how mobile device tracking leads retailers to decide on store layouts and in-store promotions seemed awfully reactive.

And about that opt-out option…it was OK. There should be some way to make it less cumbersome for me, though. Of course I can go in and adjust my location settings or opt-out each of my many devices but isn’t there a one-click solution to make it as easy as possible for the busy/technologically-challenged/lethargic-but-not-enough-to-stay-opted-in among us?

Ultimately, though, the biggest reason why the effort I’m describing falls flat for this consumer is that it fails to deliver value to me.

Sure, my carrier is making some money on telling others what I do with my many gadgets, but what’s in it for me? If I’m worth $20 to my mobile provider, how come I can’t get a little something back — a discount off my bill would be nice — anything at all that will make me feel as though this is an agreement that we can both benefit from?

That really is the big lesson for marketers trying to walk the fine line between privacy and engagement: Make it worth it to me. You want to sell my data to third parties? Then perhaps you might want to give me a reason or incentive to allow you to share it in the first place.

Yes, communicate clearly, yes be transparent, yes make the legal department happy.

But above all, strive for making your value proposition — what the customer gets from you in return for allowing you deep into their private lives — crystal clear, compelling and worthwhile.

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