Commentary

'Tis The Season for Dirty Data Clean-Up

The holidays have come and gone — a time for big revenue and oodles of new customer data. That’s great, right?   For revenue, yes.   For data, maybe.  

That data is great IF, as a marketer, you asked a simple question at point of purchase:  “Is this a gift?” If you didn’t, you entered the world of high stakes assumption marketing right in its peak season.  We know as consumers that the majority of brands did not ask this question during the holidays, and you know how this song goes.

Consumers are now all paying for those brands’ mistake. Every ad, every email, every site visit, will now have everyone all wrong. The proof is in every touchpoint.

Targeting based on this “dirty data” will not only prevent consumers from buying again — but now you’ve flat out pissed them off.  Fear not, by asking that one simple question you can eliminate an assumption. You can still course-correct your communication and avoid a brand perception disaster.  But how about going one better?

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Let’s not just prevent disasters, let’s create opportunity!  If a consumer did indeed confirm a purchase was a gift, what if you also asked if it was for someone inside or outside of the household?  Or who that person is? Armed with that additional information, you gain even more context and can engage them even more appropriately.  

Now, if you really want to hit the ball out of the park, don’t stop once you have context for that one purchase. Find out if you have any shot with the gift purchaser going forward, too. Then, you can either stop wasting dollars on them altogether or find out if their interests may be aligned with your offering, too.

This isn’t just advice for retailers. CPG marketers can find out, for example,  if someone is hosting an event, making something from scratch or seeking inspiration for a project. Travel marketers can find out if holiday trips are reoccurring family visits or a one-time visit to an old friend.

Ultimately, this ask-and-find-out process creates a mutually beneficial value proposition for brand and consumer.  By simply initiating a dialogue, brands can learn more about their potential customers — instead of making what may be faulty assumptions, based on data that, in the end, may be misleading.  And consumers avoid having their data go into a black hole, to be sliced and diced and then returned to them, often with suspect inference and irksome messaging.

It’s pretty easy, actually. The more brands engage and ask, the more they can drive the right conversation and generate more purchases.  
Even if you didn’t ask these questions over the holidays, it’s not too late.  You still have time to go back and ask now.

And one more bonus. Guess what also happens when brands have a two-way dialogue with consumers?  They build trust and  establish transparency.

The data used to personalize a conversation didn’t come from tracking or other forms of third-party data.  The consumer willingly shared data, and the marketer responded.  That’s how brands build rapport in this post-GDPR era: establishing 1:1 data relationships between brands and consumers.

Stop assuming.  Start asking now.  That’s all it takes.

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