Mandy Steinhardt
Data Mining for Personalization: Questions About Businesses
Mandy Steinhardt
December 13, 2017

Data Mining for Personalization: Questions About Businesses

How great is the impact of personalization in 2017? Well, consider that 88 percent of consumers’ feelings toward brands are positively influenced when personally relevant branded content is incorporated. Now that personalization is not only fair game but expected, marketers face another big question – how do you continue to incorporate personal information without breaching consumers’ confidence?

We like to think of personalization like salt. Every recipe benefits from a dash or two but use carefully because it’s nearly impossible to take out once added.

How do you avoid over salting? Let’s find out.

Seasoning Your Customer Experience

There are more ways to learn about shoppers than ever before. As tempting as it is to use every piece of information at hand, businesses must understand that what they can do with today’s technologies goes beyond what most people are comfortable with.

In a future blog post, we’ll tackle related (and equally as important) questions that brands should be asking about their customers. For now, let’s explore how brands can first lay the foundation for valuable personalization with some self-reflection.

What’s the minimal viable data (MVD) necessary for consumer interactions?

As you explore new data sources, it’s important to determine the least amount of data required to make an immediate and incremental impact on your customer experience. By starting small, you can intentionally demonstrate how additional information materially improves customers’ personal experiences. Helping shoppers do simple things faster and more efficiently reduces confusion around personalization without causing alarm, and helps shoppers feel that their needs are being understood and supported.

MVD varies by touch point and because no two customers are the same, it also fluctuates based on individual interactions and real-time user experience demands. Keep in mind that consumers’ reactions to personalization can differ based on where the data is coming from, too. For example, consumers are more familiar with personalization based on information they themselves contributed, such as name and birthday. Conversely, consumers are less comfortable with information you’ve gathered independently, perhaps from third-party data providers or available social platforms.

Once you’ve selected your MVD, make sure you’re effectivity incorporating personalization across all possible communication channels. Then as comfort grows, you can add more data sources – both qualitative and quantitative – to develop a more holistic understanding of your customer journey over time. No matter how advanced your personalization strategies grow, however, consumers’ comfort levels should serve as a line in the sand.

What’s my industry’s track record with personalization?

Treat personalization attempts within your industry as barometers for what’s consumers are already willing to accept. For example, retail and banking have very different thresholds for what makes consumers uncomfortable. Shoppers are more familiar with personalization in their retail experiences and are therefore less likely to be turned off by brands incorporating personal details into campaigns and routine communications. In exchange for sharing personal information, however, retail customers also have higher expectations for the value of their personalized experiences.

Conversely, banking customers have a lot of private information at play, making them less open to personalized touch points throughout their experiences. What’s considered appropriate can even change within an industry overnight. Again, consider banking. While consumers were once comfortable with Equifax tracking their purchases, breaches threatened that presumed security and consumers started rethinking what they wanted financial institutions to know.

Keeping pulse on industry successes and failures ensures that your personalization efforts don’t completely miss the mark.

Are we being responsible with our data?

A good rule of thumb is the more data you have, the more responsible you are for its security and the more culpable you are when it’s improperly managed. Even if you aren’t personalizing communications and are simply using customer data to make smarter business decisions, privacy concerns are still at play.

If there’s a risk of customer data getting breached, how are you preventing that? And how are you communicating your protection strategies to preempt customers concerns?

Again, privacy concerns differ by industry, so you should also be asking if your industry has heightened security demands. For example, it behooves financial and insurance organizations dealing in high volumes of sensitive customer information to over communicate their privacy strategies. Added transparency into personalization processes reduces consumer anxieties. Likewise, guarantees of responsible data management help position the sharing of personal information as a benefit driver, not a red flag.

Answers to these questions exist within your organization, but fortunately, you don’t have to solve them alone. Connect with one of our digital transformation experts to learn more about making personalization capabilities work for you.

Then, watch out for our upcoming blog post on personalization from the consumer perspective. That’s where we’ll dive into what you should be asking about your customers. Stay tuned!

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