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The majority of UK customers now agree they’re willing to share personal data in exchange for personalised offers or discounts. That’s according to our major new survey The State of the Connected Customer.

What’s more, the majority of customers actively favour companies who are able to capitalise on their data in this way. Indeed, 63% of UK customers say being sent personalised or exclusive offers and discounts has a direct influence on their loyalty.

This shift doesn’t just justify data-driven, personalised marketing efforts – it makes them all-but essential. Here’s why.

The connected customer – now ready to share

For a long time, marketers have been wary of making innovative use of customer data due to concerns over invading customer privacy, and damaging loyalty as a result.

But today’s ever-more-connected customers have seen what’s possible with technology. They’ve researched products and offers on their mobile devices, and canvassed opinions from communities, followers and friends. They’ve seen organisations track their preferences and behaviours, and send them personalised offers and promotions.

And it’s raised their expectations.

83% of UK customers now recognise the importance of being able to browse in-store ads or coupons in their mobile device, and 65% say technology has significantly changed their expectations of how companies should interact with them or their company.

As we’ve seen, most UK customers (55%) now feel sharing some information is a price they’re willing to pay for those expectations to be met.

Marketing has to keep its side of the deal

This is great news for marketers ready to deliver the personalised, targeted, mobile interactions customers expect. But for those who aren’t, it’s a genuine cause for concern.

There’s now an unspoken agreement between customer and marketer. It says: ‘You can have my valuable data, if you make it worth my while’. 

If a customer shares data with you and fail to honour this agreement, they may well take their data – and business – elsewhere.

Our survey found that:

  • One in two UK customers say they’re likely to switch from a company that doesn’t make an effort to personalise interactions
  • 62% say they’re likely to switch from a company that treats them like a number not an individual

And many marketers still have a way to go

Despite the clear risk to loyalty, most marketers aren’t doing everything they could be to turn customer data into better customer experiences.

Our recent State of Marketing report found that only 18% of moderately performing marketing teams have adopted web personalisation, and only 27% predictive intelligence. (For underperforming teams the figures are just 5% and 8% respectively.)

The onus is now on marketers to leverage preference and behaviour data, building dynamic customer journeys that move seamlessly across channels – from email to social media, to website and beyond.

In short, they must keep their side of the data bargain. But they’re not the only ones.

Making good on data – a company-wide responsibility

Connected customers expect connected experiences – 70% of UK customers say that a consistent experience across every interaction (whether it’s in person, online, email, mobile, or social) is very important or absolutely critical when they’re purchasing from a company.

And that means the responsibility for turning customer data into great experiences is one that must be shouldered by everyone, from marketing to sales and service teams.

Data-driven experiences in real life

One example of a business successfully using data to aid the customer experience is Aegon.

Having assisted people in planning their financial future since 1831, the business wanted to take a bold step into digital transformation. With the aid of Salesforce, Aegon launched Retiready to help people save and plan for their retirement.

Aegon uses Service Cloud to record every query from Retiready users, ensuring both customers and staff have unlimited access to their correspondence history. This not only keeps everyone on the same page, but also helps agents immediately identify past interactions for a swift resolution.

In the future, Aegon plans to use Marketing Cloud’s email marketing and Journey Builder features to control what content customers receive, and when. Stephen Crosbie, customer innovation director at Aegon, explains:

“With Marketing Cloud, we can match what we send to a customer’s specific circumstances and get messages out to the market faster.” 

A glimpse into the future

Customer expectations of how marketers use their data are set to grow as technology evolves. Our survey found that by 2020:

  • 48% of UK consumers will expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they contact them
  • 45% of UK consumers will expect companies to use AI to automatically purchase or recommend products based on their preferences

And if your company sells to businesses, delivering these smarter experiences is set to be even more crucial. Expectations of UK business buyers outstrip those of UK consumers at every turn:

  • 75% of UK business buyers will expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they contact them
  • 55% of UK business buyers will expect companies to use AI to automatically purchase or recommend products based on their preferences

It’s time to start delivering on data

The UK’s connected customers are increasingly ready to share data, if they can clearly see what’s in it for them.

Companies that honour this unspoken agreement – and use the data they collect to drive smarter, simpler experiences – stand to not only thrive as technology evolves, but to drive repeat business today: after all, 63% of UK customers say being sent personalised or exclusive offers and discounts has a direct influence on their loyalty.

Ready to find out more about how customer expectations of marketing are changing? Download the full State of the Connected Customer report to discover our survey’s global results – as well as how expectations vary whether you’re a Baby Boomers or a Millennial.