Providing an incorrect email address, the wrong date of birth and a made-up address are the most common ways of fooling companies that one in five of us -- or just above or below 20% -- admit to. That means, collectively, that 60% of us admit that we have occasionally told a fib to a brand to shut down the conversation -- the branding equivalent of making up a telephone number on a bad date to avoid a repeat.
This shows two very clear points. First, consumers are now data and marketing savvy. They know their details will be used to highlight other services and products in the future, and they simply don't want their inbox or doormat to be inundated with advertising. The research from Verve published today in Marketing Week shows very clearly that the main reasons are not to fool a company for the fun of it, but rather -- in order of ranked importance -- to protect privacy and then to prevent further forms of marketing. These far outweigh the option of providing false information because it's fun to muck up a company's database. So it's not out of spontaneous spite, it's a considered action.
Secondly, it shows that brands are not doing all they can to encourage the correct information to be collected. It must surely also emphasise that the people involved in taking in details are not always connected to the people analysing the results or planning campaigns with data that must look odd.
The lesson has to be that brands and their agencies need to do more to highlight the benefit of giving the correct information. If you're asking for an address, why not flag up that this might be used to ensure somebody's ID or perhaps it will ensure deliveries get to the right place, or more likely, a birthday card with a voucher inside makes it to the correct property. It would be a very good idea to then offer an opt-out from marketing for the address and perhaps give an assurance that the details won't be shared around and any post will limited to x cards or letters per year.
The same applies to email. Why not make it clear that having the correct email address ensures they get offers that only VIP followers get. Why not back this up by emailing a verification code to the address given that needs to be entered in the sign-up process to ensure a 10% off code gets delivered to the right inbox.
Also -- and this is a crucial question -- it might be worth asking whether you really need a physical address if you're not running direct mail campaigns. If it's out of context and being asked for the sake of building up a bigger database, then it might just be better not asking for the details. It's at least worth having the conversation in a marketing team because consumers are clearly concerned about giving up so much information.
The overarching lesson of the research published today is that consumers are data savvy, and they know their details will be used for future marketing. That means they realise their data has value and if there's nothing in it for them -- such as being entered in to a VIP shopper club, getting priority access to sales or early booking periods -- then brands can't be too surprised if they end up with a few 657 year old John and Jane Smith living at Disney Princess Castle.