Why You’re Failing at Big Data (and what to do about it)


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Despite the fact that 86 percent of consumers want more control over the data companies collect about them, a study by Aimia Institute found that consumers are prepared to share their personal data with brands. They just want something in return.

80 percent said they would share their name, email address, and nationality in exchange for rewards, while 70 percent would share their birthday, hobbies, and occupation.

But while the willingness to share data may be increasing, so are consumers’ expectations.

And most brands just aren’t keeping up.

Only 8 percent of consumers feel like they’ve actually received better service and benefits for sharing their information.

With improvements to data management technology becoming more and more commonplace, it’s now up to marketers to reconsider their strategy when it comes to the collection and use of consumer data.

It’s time to stop using data to push advertising and start putting the focus back on providing value to consumers.

To Get Individual Data, You Have to Reward for Sharing

To create the kind of personalized experiences customers expect, you need access to accurate individual level data.

But consumers won’t just give you their personal information out of the kindness of their hearts. They know their information has value and they expect there to be a reward when they share it.


Most of the rewards consumers indicated they would share data for are money based:

• Rewards — 80 percent
• Cash back — 79 percent
• Coupons — 77 percent
• Location based discounts — 69 percent

But consumers are also open to experience based rewards.

• 63 percent said they would share information in exchange for special event invites.

Related Reading: Choosing the Right Reward: Is Money Still Number One?


So how do you offer these kinds of rewards while also collecting valuable consumer data? The answer might surprise you.

Digital gamified promotions, like sweepstakes and instant win contests, are actually data mines for companies. They not only collect whatever data you need to collect — they inherently offer value to the customer.

Gamification makes your promotion an experience in of itself, providing an extra incentive for consumers to share their personal information.

But beyond the experience of playing a game, gamified promotions offer value to consumers in the form of prizes. Whether it’s monetary or experience based, prizes are great motivators for consumers to share their personal data.

Once You Collect Their Data, Use it to Provide Value

Rewarding consumers for sharing their data is the first step in developing stronger consumer relationships. But once you have that information, what you do with it will decide whether those customers stay for the long haul or break things off.


Personalization can be an effective strategy to nurture consumers and develop stronger brand loyalty. But a recent survey by Accenture indicated that there is a fine line between personal and creepy.

With irrelevant messaging being one of the top two reasons people disengage with brands, you want to make sure you’re providing your consumer with personalization they actually want.

So what’s welcome?*
• Automatic discounts at checkout for loyalty points/coupons — 94 percent
• Promotions for items they are considering — 84 percent
• One-click checkout online — 81 percent
• Recommendations based on who they are/what they like – 81 percent
• Complementary item suggestions — 79 percent
• Real time promotions — 74 percent
*survey respondents answered “cool” or “neutral”


Consumers want their personalized experiences to be relevant and efficient. But they aren’t interested in things getting too personal or specific — feeling like Big Brother is watching gets creepy pretty fast. And if consumers have concerns about their data, they’ll leave.

• 1 in 6 have closed accounts/subscriptions over personal data concerns
• 54 percent are taking steps to limit online tracking/advertising

So how do you personalize without being creepy? It comes down to keeping information relevant and giving consumers information they want — without coming across like you’re watching their every move. Usually that’s accomplished by tailoring marketing to needs and interests not specific actions.

For example, imagine I browse a retailer’s website and spend considerable time looking at one pair of mens running shoes.

Personalization Attempt #1: You target me with an ad on Facebook for the shoes I was just looking at.

My Reaction: “Woah, how do they know I was just looking at these!” followed by an attempt to turn off ad tracking. This kind of personalization comes off as creepy because it makes it blatantly obvious you’ve been tracking what I do online, and it targets a specific action: buy these shoes!

Personalization Attempt #2: You personalize the home page of your site to show me men’s athletic wear and move running shoes up to the top of the navigation menu.

My Reaction: I probably wouldn’t even notice that you used my data to do this — I’d just be happy my shopping experience was more efficient and I saw some cool products I’m actually interested in. This attempt works because the personalization is subtle and helpful. Plus it doesn’t push me to buy anything. Instead it targets my specific need/interest: running.

It’s a fine line, but keeping the customer’s needs — not the company’s goals — at the center of interactions, goes a long way to avoid being creepy.

The Bottom Line

The inclination to share data is growing, and consumers have clear expectations about the type of rewards and experiences they want in exchange for that data.

But capitalizing on the consumer driven market is about more than providing rewards for information.

It’s how you use that data and the experiences you are able to create that will attract consumers to your brand and keep them around for the long haul.

John Findlay
John is a founding partner of the digital engagement agency, Launchfire (est. 1999). In his too-many years in the business he's developed gamified digital engagement strategies & promotions for a mighty impressive list of leading marketers.


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