CMOs, Here’s Why You Should Care About Explicit Data

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It’s time to take the next step with your data strategies. According to our recent research, customers, especially Millennials, want to drive the customized experiences and interactions they have with brands. To meet these expectations, marketers must make a profound shift and enrich their implicit data with the power of explicit, self-profiled preference data.

You have no doubt been using implicit data, that is, information which you’ve data mined or your customers provided to indicate short-term interests or needs—but not to intentionally indicate deeper or longer-term preferences. Examples of implicit data include web browsing behavior such as page views, items placed in the shopping cart, wait-listed items, items purchased and data mined from social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook.

This implicit data certainly has value, but per findings from our more than 2,000 hours of VoC research interviews for clients such as Gilt, MassMutual, IBM, HP and QVC, it is not delivering the response rates or meeting the expectations of many BtoB and BtoC customers. Research findings indicate that today’s customers want to drive high levels of relevance and personalization through explicit preferences they provide.

Explicit data is self-profiled preference information customers provide in the Preference Center of a site or through dialogue boxes. Here’s a b-to-c example: A customer specifically tells a merchant she is interested in trendy professional clothing for the workplace. Here’s a b-to-b example: A customer tells a company that they want training programs on digital marketing for new hires.

In an IBM blog it was noted, “from a customer loyalty perspective, personalization is more than just using some fancy technology to message a customer by name or upsell them a complementary product based on “people like me.” True personalization … [offers] the right incentive, in the right amount, targeting the right behavior, in the right channel, at the right time. In essence, it means building a unique strategy and set of program rules for each customer, not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

The VoC research also identified eight critical points in brand lifecycles where customers want explicit data-driven personalized engagement:

1. Purchase
2. Onboarding
3. Anticipatory responses to decreasing engagement (visits, responses, purchases)
4. Immediate responses to negative experiences
5. Surprise-and-delight thank-yous
6. Value-added cross-selling and upselling
7. Repeat sales
8. Renewals

Life Time Fitness uses personalized content to improve the health of their marketing. The company sets consumer journeys and sends 7 million personalized emails per month according to predetermined segments and has seen a 154% return on its investment.

Personalized content improved Life Time Fitness’ open rates by 80% over two years to help the company add memberships and increase conversion rates. Member experiences were improved by adding communications before, during and after their time at a Life Time facility. Targeted follow-up emails addressed any issues or concerns which reduced unsubscribes by 15% and created additional cross-channel sales from existing members.

“As marketers, it’s less about us understanding what products and services we put in front of [members]. It’s more about how we continue to enrich the experience that they’¬re having … as well as the relationship they have with Life Time,” said Keith Dieruf, vice president of digital marketing.

“The content of every communication via email, online, mobile texts, or mobile notifications [help members] walk through that journey to get them to where they personally want to go,” said Renee Main, VP of marketing, member acquisition, and retention.

Explicit Data Takeaways

1. Use customer insights to determine:

• How your customers define appropriate explicit data
• Value exchange for requesting explicit information
• Earning the right for progressive profiling
• Design of high value Preference Centers

2. Test to determine the right mix between implicit and explicit data. Using only implicit data is not enough to drive true personalization.

3. Design preference data capture for every channel, digital and physical. Every channel must respect preferences and aversions.

Customers understand personalization. But they want it to be appropriate and they want to explicitly customize it. Test this and you will see that it drives increased conversion rates, return visits, overall engagement and decreases email unsubscribe rates.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman (@ernanroman) is president of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing. He was inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to the results his VoC research-based CX strategies achieve for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, QVC, Gilt and HP. ERDM conducts deep qualitative research to help companies understand how customers articulate their feelings and expectations for high value CX and personalization. Named one of the Top 40 Digital Luminaries and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.

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