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Gain Customer Trust and Modernize Your Marketing Through Proven Best Practices

Type: Articles
Topic: Customer Experience

Topic: Customer Insights

Original Article: The European Business Review.

By Tom Fricano

The way in which businesses communicate offers, promotions and other marketing messages is changing before our eyes. Consumers’ larger voice and increased power through social media has certainly been a key driver here, but changing regulations and legislation is also creating an environment for businesses to modify and modernize their marketing practices.  

In order to accomplish this, businesses need a more direct pathway and visibility into each and every individual customer’s behaviors, needs, and preferences. Organizations have traditionally relied on third-party data to reach their customers but changing policies on collecting tracking cookies and the realization that this type of data cannot provide the reliable insight into personalized preferences has left businesses looking for new and better options.  

Businesses are now building strategies to collect this personal data through direct interactions with their customers, known as zero-party data or explicit first-party data. This process results in greater trust between the customer and business and fosters more longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.  

What is zero-party data 

Zero-party data is highly personal insight a customer intentionally, directly, and proactively provides to a brand because they have established a level of trust with that company. This personal insight may include preferences, insights, profile data, consents, and how the individual wants the business to engage them.

Building a Zero-Party Data collection strategy

Marketers must build a comprehensive strategy to collect, manage, and use zero-party data in new, effective and meaningful ways.  Doing so helps them connect with prospects and customers and build trusted relationships. Old ways of doing this, such as generic web and mobile forms are no longer effective. Businesses must truly seek to offer relevant experiences that help the customer accomplish their goals.

Zero-Party data collection best practices that build trust

  • Voice of customer – start the process by conducting qualitative research with your customers to better understand what’s important to them rather than making assumptions. Use these learnings to develop and fine tune your programs for building trust. 
  • Ask permission – get their consent to share information with them and be sure to honor their wishes. This not only builds trust but also helps you stay in compliance with privacy regulations.
  • Collect customer interests along the journey – Micro moments or specific moments of interest present a good opportunity to collect information related to that interaction. For example, if they are signing up to receive a healthy lifestyle newsletter, that presents a great opportunity to ask what their lifestyle goals include. This is also called progressive profiling, or getting to know your customers over time.
  • Only collect what you will use – customers have limited tolerance for the amount of data they will share. So, ask for what is most important during each interaction and for data that will help you provide your customers value.
  • Use customer interests to tailor their experience – for example, guide travelers toward appropriate trips based on what’s most important to them when they go on vacation (e.g., adventure, safety, cost), or use body type, occasion and personal style to recommend best fit clothing
  • Preference center – provide 24/7 access to a preference center so customers can review, edit, and delete their preferences as their interests change. This allows customers to be in control of their data.
  • Opt-down option – When someone goes to opt out of a communication, give them options to opt out of that specific communication, change the frequency or channel, or out of all communications. This helps save what would have been a global opt out and turns it into a more targeted list of preferences which allows you to better meet their needs.
  • User interface best practices – Consider web design best practices. The use of whitespace, limited choices, positioning, and color all impact the completion rate of your forms.
  • Share customer preferences across your organization. Customers view your company as one organization not individual departments. So, you must centralize customer preferences and then integrate them across all customer communication platforms such as marketing automation, customer relationship management, customer support, and billing. This enables every department to honor your customers wishes and communicate consistently.

Many of these best practices will surely leave a number of businesses scratching their head wondering where and how to build out their websites to accommodate all of these needs. It is important to partner with a marketing technology provider that specializes in consumer trust, preference and consent management, understands the changing landscape of regulations and provides strategic consulting services to tie it all together. Leveraging “technology only” solutions will only end up leaving the business short of these goals and spending even more money in the long run to properly implement these changes – while losing customers along the way.

Once these changes are implemented, businesses will see value grow overtime through better relationships with their customers, a position of leadership, and ultimately, better profits.

Tom Fricano is PossibleNOW’s Senior Practice Director of Strategic Consulting, Tom assists clients with customer experience, preference management and consent initiatives through advisory and strategic consulting, technology expertise and project-to-product-to-implementation roadmaps.

Tom’s 25 years of experience allows him to strategically and tactically apply organizational and technology skills in a manner that builds trust with key stakeholders across client engagements. His expertise spans multiple industry sectors and business initiatives including customer engagement, regulatory compliance, email marketing and automation platforms, eCommerce, back-end systems integration, managed services and hosting, product rollouts, ongoing measurement and data governance. Tom is a trusted advisor helping clients enjoy a rare level of success in solution delivery and advancing their business