As a digital marketer, I’ve been raised to love data and I do. The ability to make decisions based on real-time evidence is one of the most empowering and liberating things to happen to me as a marketer. But as we trust so much of our decision making to what the numbers are saying, ostensibly to identify and take advantage of previously-missed opportunities, do we run the risk of becoming over reliant on the data?
The holy grail of marketing communications is to serve your customers with timely, relevant, targeted communications. The volume of data that we are now able to capture, track and analyse about our customers means that you no know what they’re interested in, what they’ve bought and the what time they are most likely to buy it. In fact, this is part of the strategy behind the success of several online retailers like Vinomofo and Amazon. But what happens when the data breaks? What happens when what you’re collecting is no longer accurate?
As an example, and not just because I mentioned Vinomofo 25 words ago, let’s use wine. When I first visit the site, I’m only interested in one varietal, let’s say Pinot Noir. I only click on links to Pinot Noir and that’s the only thing I ever buy. The wine retailer correctly assumes I only like Pinot Noir and stops sending me emails with any other offer and prioritises Pinot Noir when I’m on the website. But what if I go our to dinner one night and try an amazing Shiraz and suddenly want to buy Shiraz? All the emails I’m receiving still only spruik Pinots and since the website thinks that’s all I like, I never see the Shiraz deals so I think I need to go somewhere else to buy wines.
As marketers, we must avoid only just going by what the data tells. Here’s a couple of ways to avoid this happening:
Give the option to fix
As the screenshot from Amazon shows, give your visitors a chance to fix the recommendation so you can continually learn as their tastes evolve.
Balanced observed with stated behaviour
Open up your customer profiles and allow customers to self-select what they are interested in rather than just relying on the data. While you can begin just by observing on-site behaviour, you can send a follow-up survey to confirm that what you’re collecting is accurate and ask if there’s anything else they’re interest in.
Don’t hide other offers
While you should tailor your communications to prioritise what the data tells you they are most interested in, don’t hide the rest either. Make other products and categories easy to find if their preferences change and they know you don’t just do one thing and there’s a whole lot more to you.