How to personalise post-GDPR
Editorial

How to personalise post-GDPR

In the new data regulation landscape, targeting consumers with personalised communications is a renewed challenge for marketers

With the GDPR now in force, marketers are coming to terms with a significant reduction in the volume of customer data they can legally use. Meanwhile, customers appear to want greater personalisation in marketing communications and advertising. These two – seemingly contradictory – pressures pose a challenge for marketers.

However, a recent survey, conducted by OnePoll for the Chartered Institute of Marketing, found that 48% of consumers do not understand where and how organisations use their personal data, reflecting an increase from 31% two years ago.

This suggests that, far from being a frustrating challenge, GDPR offers a real opportunity for marketers to clarify and communicate how they are using data to give consumers a more personalised, efficient experience.

Framing GDPR as a value exchange

Mark Roy, founder and chairman of REaD Group, believes the data-sharing relationship between successful brand marketers and customers is being reshaped. “GDPR fundamentally shifts the way in which brands can communicate with their customers, giving individuals more control of their own data and who they choose to share it with,” he says. “This will result in a significant shift of power from brands to customers.”

As such, “brands should explain the benefits of a clear data-value exchange to the customer, and then respect their wishes in order to gain their trust and loyalty,” says Roy. “Marketers will need to manage their customers’ expectations up front by clearly establishing what types of information they want to receive, how they will use it, and for what.”

Simon Wakeman MCIM, managing director of digital transformation agency Deeson, says this process will forge stronger relationships with customers.

“GDPR is an opportunity to really use a personalisation-led marketing strategy to grow user trust and brand equity,” he says. “Users will be more savvy about their data rights and how companies use this data in their relationship with the brand. Getting personalisation right will lead to performance improvements in marketing, but the risk of getting it wrong has increased, too.”

Roland van Breukelen, UK and Ireland marketing director at SAP Hybris, highlights the ‘virtuous circle’ that can be the consequence of greater consumer trust, and more personalised communications.

“People are more likely to interact with a person or organisation they trust. From a data and technology perspective, every time the user interacts with an organisation’s devices, marketers gain a deeper understanding of behaviour and preference. They can then make astute recommendations and serve the customer better, which in turn heightens trust – and ultimately – loyalty.”

Delivering the value exchange

If marketers are to ensure well-targeted, timely and relevant communications that create a seamless personalised experience, rather than generating more clicks of the ‘unsubscribe’ button, the strategy has to be spot on.  

“It’s simple,” says Wakeman. “Start with understanding customers: their wants, desires and fears. Building experiences around the needs of customers, not the needs of marketers, is vital to delivering personalised experiences that consumers will love.

“Taking a learning approach to building these experiences iteratively will help build user confidence in how their data is collected and used. It’s vital to take an end-to-end view of the customer journey across channels; how data is used to tailor and personalise these journeys is vital.”

Van Breukelen concurs: “Marketers still have the ability to capture data from customers through transparent, value-for-information exchanges – where consent is explicitly granted and maintained. They can, under GDPR, build a truly accurate view of customers that can fuel more effective personalisation. However, organisations need to put the customer first and align their organisational structure, technology and internal processes accordingly.”

Customer-centric change

Van Breukelen suggests a series of incremental steps that will help organisations put digital enablement at their core. “Transforming operating models and business capabilities requires fundamental changes to the end-to-end value chain, through integrated technologies that enable a truly customer-centric organisation. 

“This is why the most successful businesses are incentivising engagement by offering value propositions, such as premium content or exclusive promotions, to online visitors and ensuring that, once converted, customers can easily edit, amend, delete, and freeze processing of their personal data, or rescind their consent to store and use it.” 

In future, marketers may have to adjust to a ‘slower-burn’ approach to personalisation, involving testing with smaller groups of customers. This would give marketers the perfect opportunity to refine their strategies of how to communicate the benefits of the value exchange while minimising risk.    

“Above all, marketers should be taking every step possible to be honest and transparent with their customers,” says Roy. “The more open and honest they can be with their consumers, the more they will reap the rewards in the long run.”

To ensure you’re up to date with GDPR legislation, book CIM’s online ‘GDPR for the Marketer’ course now, which has recently been GCHQ approved.

Sign up to our latest webinar to find out why you should keep sending emails to your customers.

Phil Lattimore
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