For me, one of the highlights of this years’ MRS Impact conference was “Social Media: Now that’s what I call smart targeting” – focusing on personalisation the dos and don’ts.
At the root of the ability to personalise is knowing your customer. As Celina Burnett, Head of Marketing Analytics at Asos.com brought to our attention, the likes of Facebook (Instagram for you young folks) know more about us than our nearest and dearest due to the mass of data they hold on our likes, shares, emojis, usage patterns etc.
But, the obvious question this raises is, is the social media me the real me? Confession: I don’t like and share everything I like because I’m conscious of how my shares and likes reflect on me: do I want to be seen to like X’s post? Am I a close enough “friend” to respond to X’s very personal post? Do I want people to know I like something that’s a bit facile? What will that tell people about me? Do I choose to just smile and wave if I don’t like someone’s content (yes) versus pick a fight about it (no)? And don’t our closest pals – with whom we are invariably connected on social media -see all of your activity anyway?
Setting aside whether FB and its like really know customers best, what can marketers do with this knowledge? As o2’s, Head of Research, Jess Salmon highlighted in her paper – personalisation really works: reducing cost of sales, increasing retention etc.
But it only works when done well.
As Celina flagged, get too personal and you’re creepy, in stalker territory and far from reducing cost of sales you’re likely to lose customers.
Your customer data may well give you insights into what really makes your customers tick, but maybe it’s best to step one rung down the ladder to what they want you and the outside world to think makes them tick?
How do you get personalisation right then? Jess gave some great tips: focus on bringing greater value to the customer, being more relevant, improving their experience, not on trying to get under their skin. Simple but effective.
Another key theme at the conference was inclusivity. Jan Gooding, Global Inclusion Director at Aviva plc and Chair of the Board of Trustees Stonewall was announced as the new President of the MRS, spearheading a much-needed inclusivity agenda for the Market Research industry. Inclusivity not diversity. Diversity is only achieved by being inclusive so let’s focus on being just that. Amen to that Jan.
Gender equality clearly fits under this umbrella (one of many strands). It’s a subject very close to my heart and it’s been in the press a lot recently – with no small thanks to the excellent campaigning of The Fawcett Society and others. Really it boggles the mind to think that a gender pay gap is still deemed ok in this day and age (45 years after the introduction of the Equal Pay Act). But the extent of this (the current gap for full time workers is 13.9%) means that many reading this will be party to instigating and perpetuating this. Can you hold your head up high?
So, given that this is a schtick of mine, you might think I’d be delighted to receive an email newsletter entitled “Inspiring Women” . . . indeed, this is just what a renowned marketing publication has decided to send me. But not in addition to its standard email newsletter, instead of it. Why? Has it gone gender specific with all of its email recipients? Do guys receive the “Inspiring Men” emailer? There’s something very arcane about this belief that you can group people according to perceived gender. There has been no smart targeting involved here. Rather a blunt segmentation of a mailing list – any smart analysis would have revealed my tendency to click on any stories relating to: supply chain management, STEM skills shortage, technology, communications, big data, engagement etc. etc. If the publication had personalised a message to me around my interests then it would have increased its relevance and improved my experience. But that’s clearly not what’s happened here.
Not only is the targeting of this emailer very clumbsy but the content and accompanying imagery involving lots of soft emotive images and (strangely) pictures of high-heels – it’s anything but inspiring to me. Tell a lie, it has inspired me to email its helpdesk requesting to be switched back to the general emailer. As yet to no avail. Social media teething pains I guess – hoh hum.
Learnings from all of this: think before you personalise, use the data you hold but interpret it well, make sure you really understand your customers vs assume you know them from a few demographics, avoid prejudging and patronising them. Add value by being more relevant – try not to creep them out. If you can’t achieve that, don’t go there.