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Stop Using Data Just to Sell and Start Creating Great Customer Relationships

Companies know more than they’ve ever known before about customers thanks to the interconnected world of computers, tablets, smartphones, cars, and anything else connected to the internet. For years Google and Facebook have been gathering surface info on what websites you like and who your friends are. But now they’re able to go much deeper. Now we’re connecting things like thermostats, refrigerators, and fitness apps so they know when we’re home, what we eat, how we work out, and much more.  There’s even audio technology now that uses an inaudible high-pitch frequency to create a connection between devices (source). So what are companies doing with all this precious data? Destroying customer relationships by selling, selling and more selling.

You search for jeans on and suddenly every ad you see is for the jeans you searched for or a competitor’s product. You buy something at Michael’s craft store and make the mistake of signing up for their eMail blast and then every morning like at 5am you’re greeted with a spam eMail coupon.  And it’s not just physical products – do you think Linked In sends you eMails about your connections for your own benefit? Maybe partially but moreso because they need to keep their MAU (monthly active user) numbers up.

These methods, like any new marketing or selling tool, are highly effective at first. Early adopters of eMail blasts, remarketing, and retargeting saw phenomenal results. But just like Google Adwords and then Facebook ads, as more and more players enter the space the marketing spend needed to generate any meaningful results has skyrocketed, the method has become ineffective, and savvy consumers have wised up to these cheap tricks.

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Remarketing and retargeting don’t build equity with your customer

If you want a quality relationship with your consumer you have to do something personalized and meaningful. Constantly hitting them with a barrage of ads for your products, spamming every ad box on a webpage, or sending them a constant stream of coupon emails doesn’t build equity.  Company’s that want to win will start data relationship marketing in a way that creates user specific experiences and content.

Consider my personal experience Nike.  I’ve been using the Nike running app for 5 years.  Nike knows how tall I am, how much I weigh, how often, how long, and where I run. They also have some information about what shoes I buy and how often I replace them.  Do you know what Nike has done with this information? Nothing.  The only communication Nike ever sends are generic ads for clothing and shoes, post-run canned audio feedback, and eMail blasts with more ads for clothing and shoes.

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I feel like you just don’t know me anymore. Nike probably has more info than any other company about my lifestyle but continues to send generic content.

So what should Nike be doing?

  1. Useful Running Tips: Send me running tips based on the distance and frequency I’ve been running. Send me a monthly recap of my runs with data on my best running day and time.
  2. Badge Gear: Sell me special clothing based on the “badge” level I’ve achieved in my app. Let me show the world I’m Nike “blue” or “black” or “green”.
  3. PreMap My Run: Send me a map of trails for my local area and a potential route I could run based on the distance I typically go. Show me gas stations I can grab water at or potential public buildings that could have a water fountain.
  4. Apparel Recommendations:  “Hey, we see you live in Chicago and it’s been 20º there for the past three weeks.  Check out these pants which are designed specifically for that type of weather.”

And that’s just scratching the surface. It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with just a few ideas that would create a great relationship based on data and customized content.

The opportunities to utilize data in a way that connects with the consumer are endless. Yes, there is going to be work involved. A relationship with your customer is no different than any other relationship, it takes work. But utilizing data to really connect is going to create a life long customer.  The kind of customer that trusts your company, makes multiple purchases, and recommends you to others.