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Personalisation Is Powerful — Here’s How To Make It Ethical, Too

The average customer wants you to treat them like your number one. But, they also want you to protect the data they give you. [Visual Generation / Getty]
The average customer wants you to treat them like your number one. But, they also want you to protect the data they give you. [Visual Generation / Getty]

Your customers trust you with their information. As data grows ever more central to customer relationships, make sure you have an ethical personalisation strategy in place.

Why do you need an ethical personalisation strategy?

If you check your email right now, you’ll probably find an example of a personalisation strategy. 

Perhaps a retail company followed up with you about a pair of shoes you were browsing, down to the specific make, model and even size!

Experiences like these where businesses use things they know about your online behaviour are increasingly common. That’s because measuring consumer behaviour is one of the most efficient and effective marketing strategies. It’s a scenario where everyone wins — when the strategy works well. 

The latest State of the Connected Customer report shows 56% of customers expect offers to always be personalised, while 73% expect companies to anticipate their unique needs and expectations. They also want companies to respect their privacy, and handle their data in a lawful and ethical manner. Yes, 61% of customers are comfortable with companies using relevant data — as long as it’s done in a beneficial and transparent way. And when it comes to using personal information, transparency is something that 64% of customers think businesses are not delivering. 

So how do you walk that line? Here’s your guide on how to ethically use personal data without losing your customers’ trust.

How to build an ethical personalisation strategy

The good news is, you only need to tweak your marketing strategies to make your personalisation tactics more ethical.

Here are three important rules of thumb: 

  • Collect and respect communications preferences 
  • Make sure you have the right audience
  • Cap messaging frequency

Building brand integrity?

Find out how transparency and authenticity work hand-in-hand.

Collect and respect communications preferences

Your customers will share their data if they trust you. You can build that trust by collecting, storing, and using your customers’ data based on the preferences they share with you. The more transparent you are about your personalisation strategy, the easier it is for them to understand what data they should provide based on how it will be used. 

Ask customers questions about how you can use their data. Can you use it to personalise offers during one shopping session? Or could you send them deals down the line? Are they only interested in one category or brand, or would they be open to hearing about other ranges? 

If you get consent from consumers and use their information only in the ways they prefer, data becomes a way to build one of your business’s most precious commodities: trust.

Make sure you have the right audience

Demographic targeting often creates bias and fails to deliver the right messaging to the right people. Let’s say, for example, you’re targeting customers aged 55 and over in a campaign to boost sales of an anti-ageing serum you’re overstocked on. You’ve introduced bias based on an assumption that only certain age groups are interested in looking younger, and you’re losing out on potential sales by limiting yourself to a demographic. 

That’s why it’s helpful to use interest-based targeting in your personalisation strategy to match your products and services to those most likely interested in something similar. It also avoids reinforcing stereotypes that could have repercussions for your brand

This high level of customer knowledge has been critical to the success of beauty retailer, MECCA. The company has been able to ethically collect customer data to build a 360-degree view of their consumers. The company can recognise a customer at any point during their journey and ensure their particular needs and preferences are being met. 

Customer data empowers MECCA to deliver a highly personalised experience in a market that demands nothing less. Whether it’s a repeat purchase of a favourite mascara made seamless or the selection of a new skincare product based on the customer’s unique dermatological needs, MECCA leverages customer data to tailor each experience to the individual.

Cap messaging frequency

No one wants to be blasted with emails from your business. But, they do appreciate the right message at the right time. That’s why less is more. When you focus on the quality and the timing of your emails, you build trust with your customer. You also cut down on wasted resources and time, as well as unwanted or generic emails that might lead to higher unsubscribe rates.  

Take membership-based hospitality group, Norths Collective — the group has used Marketing Cloud to master the art of personalised email marketing. It’s been over three years since it published a printed newsletter — all communications are now digital and targeted. For example, if the Wiggles are performing or there’s a kids-eat-free night, parents hear about it and retirees don’t. And a recent targeted email membership drive campaign attracted 2,500 new members and an 85% email open rate.

By collecting demographic data, transactional data and, with the help of Interaction Studio, habitual data ethically and transparently, Norths Collective can give its customers the experience, attention and personalised offerings they want and develop the trusted relationships that build lifetime value.

What’s at stake?

The average customer wants you to treat them as your number one priority. They want a unique experience and to be rewarded for their loyalty to your brand. But, they also want you to protect the data they give you. When those expectations aren’t met, you risk losing customers and alienating them from your brand for good.

Heads up, marketing leaders

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Salesforce Staff

The 360 Blog from Salesforce teaches readers how to improve work outcomes and professional relationships. Our content explores the mindset shifts, organizational hurdles, and people behind business evolution. We also cover the tactics, ethics, products, and thought leadership that make growth a meaningful and positive experience.

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