THE BLOG
02/20/2013 03:46 pm ET Updated Apr 22, 2013

Four Tips for Earning Consumer Preference Data

The Challenge: Marketers everywhere are fighting an uphill battle: trying to deliver more personalized communications but lacking the accurate data to do so. Without that information marketers are still stuck sending 'Spray and Pray' blasts of email.

According to Toronto-based anti-spam filtering and web security services provider, Perimetic, "roughly 130 billion spam emails are sent, worldwide, per day, accounting for roughly 70 percent of global emailing activity."

The goal of consumer-provided preference data is to deliver personally relevant offers, communications, and experiences. However instead of making consumers comfortable with sharing personal information, the 'Spray and Pray' practices of marketers have caused consumers not to trust them. This certainly applies to providing them with personal information.

Based on Voice of Customer research conducted by our firm, we have learned that there are four ways that brands can earn consumer preference data. These findings were consistent across B2B and B2C research.

4 Key Takeaways for Marketers:

1. Demonstrate to Consumers That You'll Safeguard Their Information and Use it in a Responsible Way.
Successfully doing so requires that you follow two important steps:

  • One, promise consumers that you'll safeguard their personal preferences by assuring them at each stage of the sign-up process and in all subsequent messages.
  • Two, follow through on that promise.

Violating these steps can do serious harm to brands. Conversely, demonstrating that you're trustworthy will only help to strengthen the consumer-brand relationship.

2. Assure Consumers That "Responsible" Means That You'll Never Rent or Sell Their Information to Third Parties.
This assurance cannot be subtle: it must be undeniable.

Email Marketing Services Provider, MailChimp, offers a great example of this. The message on their website support page is plain and unmistakable: "MailChimp does not provide, sell, share, or rent lists. Ever."

It's that kind of conciseness that puts consumers' minds at ease. Do it.

3. Honor Consumer Expectations That Preference Data Will Be Used to Drive Increasingly Targeted Offers.
Aligning your brand with this expectation requires that you demonstrate your commitment to honor expectations from the outset of a relationship.

Boston Store's Fashion and Sales News email sign-up form requests customers to provide the store with 10 essential preference criteria, thereby assuring customers that they'll only receive relevant offers.

We applaud Boston Store for using detailed preference criteria to deliver a more personal experience.

4. Clearly Demonstrate to the Consumer That You're Working to Provide an Improved Experience With Their Preference Information.
If value is not obvious, consumers will assume that you've betrayed their trust.

This expectation of relevance applies to both online and offline experiences and communications. Be sure that you're demonstrating the value to the consumer consistently and over time. There's a lot of bad history you need to overcome.

We urge you to test these 4 Tips. Per the experience of our clients, your customers will reward you with increased loyalty and sales.

Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.

Ernan was recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

2010-12-08-ernan.jpgErnan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.

His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.

Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."

www.erdm.com
ernan@erdm.com