My hopes for GDPR – an end to lazy marketing.

Lazy marketing! When we can do so much with data why do some companies choose to do so little? 

What do I mean by lazy marketing? Bad targeting, bad timing, bad personalisation, bad creative. In fact, just a blatant disregard for the simple and most basic of marketing rules – right TIME, right PLACE, right PERSON, right MESSAGE. What’s got me so mad? We recently returned from a 2-week holiday. My kindly neighbour had been popping in daily to feed our cat and when we got home I noticed that she had also neatly stacked and sorted our post. In one pile were the essential, official looking letters and bills (about 4) and in another was a stack of free catalogues and brochures. Seeing that pile all in one place made me realise – what a load of sh*t I get sent!

Over a period of a month I decided to collate all the brochures and catalogues together.  As you can see – it’s quite a stack – 32 different, thick, sizable brochures. Now I appreciate that companies that I have engaged with may want to keep me up to date with their latest offering – and I am largely ok with this. However, of this massive pile of brochures, I have bought from 5, and 2 only of those within the last 12 months! So that’s 85% of the mail I receive is unsolicited and unrequested.

Why do I get sent so much sh*t?

I appreciate that brands seek the profiles of like-minded consumers and source those from lists that can be purchased in volume. But surely in this day and age of rich data, we can be better at targeting and personalisation vs broadcast / hit and hope marketing? Why, just because I bought a coat for my 8 year old daughter from one catalogue and some bed linen from another, does my profile fit someone who may want fur lined Peruvian slippers? (Which, if the brochure is anything to go by, are mainly worn by people over 60?) This is the kind of lazy marketing that really gives us marketers a bad name, and does nothing but frustrate the receiver and add to our waste recycling.

Why, have the brands that I have bought from been so lazy in their communications?

To build and maintain trust in a brand we, as marketers, need to be attuned to how and when and why our customers want to be engaged – and those preferences, when known, need to be respected. We need to raise the bar in how we engage with people.

Even the brands that I have bought from should be able to do better. Where is the personalisation? Where is the recognition of my previous purchase history? Where is the recommendation of what I may want based on real insight and knowledge about me? We can do so much with data, and yet many companies choose to do so little. Only one of the brochures in the photos had a lame attempt at personalisation in that the cover had “Hello Patricia” written on it – a name they must have taken from inaccurate details as I am only called Patricia by my mother, and usually when I have done something wrong!

Whilst 61% of brands are personalising their communications with basics such a name, only 42% are using previous purchasing information and only a shocking 9% of companies use sophisticated data, such as attitudinal insights to help with targeting.

Getting personalisation right can do wonders in helping consumers navigate the steps they take to ultimately put a brands product in their basket. After its joint venture switchover in 2011, Co-operative Travel saw a 95% increase in visitors and 217% increase in revenue once it started implementing personalisation on its website and BMW saw a 30% increase in conversions when it used personalised SMS to a 1,200 target group in the US.

This is where my hopes for GDPR come in – the biggest shake up of the data protection regulation across the EU comes into place in May 25th, 2018. On a personal level – I can’t wait. It’s going to give me back control over how my data is used and the right to choose to be forgotten or to be included. For businesses, I hope that it will create an opportunity for marketers to hone in on developing propositions based on real insight and create much more effective targeting. Any decent marketer is aware of the benefits of using effective personalisation and how it makes for a much better customer experience. Good marketing can be made better with the personal touch and I hope that GDPR will force companies to review the data they have and to use it well. They should look to provide opportunities for their customers to share information/data with them, knowing that, in doing so they will receive a better, more attuned experience.

In the meantime, if anyone can think of a use for 5 kilos of out of date magazines please let me know.

Tricia Rogers – is Director of GingerTree Marketing. Providing freelance marketing support to businesses of all sizes.

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