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People Will Share Personal Information In Exchange For A Personalized Experience

By Gina Rau | Posted on August 30, 2013

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Mistargeting is a real and common problem for marketers as it leads to inefficiencies and wasteful marketing efforts. Mistargeting, however, is an even bigger problem for your audience because it’s annoying and sends the message that “you don’t know me” (which really means: you don’t care about me). And 98% of consumers feel this way.

Consumers didn’t always feel this way. As recent as the turn of the century, marketers broadcasted their brand messages to audience segments based on Nielsen journals aligned with their target demographic in a very one-way communication fashion. Marketers didn’t know who was on the other end of the TV or radio commercial beyond “male 18 – 24, who like NBA”. Personal identification information wasn’t available, or important. The most personalized marketing consumers received was the direct mail piece or a phone call where they might have known their name from a contest entry at the county fair.

This seemed to work then, but we really didn’t know any different, or better. Advertising dollars were spent (or loss) on mistargeting, over targeting and impersonal experiences with brands trying to find their way in consumer homes where the decisions were made. While we were sold on the dream of 1:1 marketing in the mid 90’s, the data to truly execute simply wasn’t there.

The early days of digital brought personalized site experiences based on implicit data such as pages viewed. Website owners and brands were able to get some behavioral data that they could use to offer content or product suggestions based on inferences, but this still led to mistargeting and a poor experience. Cookie tracking can often provide data that only adds to the confusion of knowing who is truly on your site.

What This Looks Like

When I buy a gift for my pregnant friend and continually receive email offers for diapers and formula, that’s not only wasted effort from the marketer, but leaves me feeling like this brand that I’ve been loyal to for years doesn’t know me that well. As a consumer, I might not connect the diaper offers to the purchase I made for Sally three months ago and understand why I’m receiving these irrelevant ads.

Fast forward to today when marketers have access to information beyond cooking tracking to demographic data like gender, age, marital status and location, interests and activities, and even the company we keep. Online consumers who decidedly choose who or what brand to follow, friend and like are customizing their experiences on various social networks and websites they spend time at. This ability has led to a belief that every website should offer a personalized experience and a full 67% of consumers claim that personalization is highly attractive.

A leading question many organizations have is around acquiring accurate, current and quality data in order to provide that relevancy. There are many different sources ready to sell third party data but to truly tailor content and product recommendations, email messages and offers, or site engagement, marketers need to better know the individual visiting their site. Audience segmentation intelligence won’t cut it any more.

The good news for marketers is that 40% of consumers are willing to share lifestyle, demographic and media usage information in exchange for something relevant organization. Online consumers have deemed the value of a personalized experience worthy of an exchange of data to allow the organization to deliver it. And companies that personalize these online experiences see an average of 19% uplift in sales.

Clearly, this is a win-win situation for consumers and organizations that holds value. To offer your audience content, offers and products uniquely relevant to them, the first step is to better know your audience which is very similar to getting to know someone in your personal life. If you don’t believe me, check out our latest ebook: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. And if you need more research supporting the fact that your audience wants personalization and is willing to give you the personal information required in order to have that experience, visit our StatBoard which is a research hub for marketers on topics like this.

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About the author

Gina Rau

Marketing Communications Manager

With almost 20 years of marketing success, Gina is a brand engagement specialist who seeks out creative solutions for every marketing challenge. Her work has delivered results for leading brands like Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, JCPenney, Tillamook Creamery and more. At Janrain, she leads the charge to make sure our company, products and services shine through our messaging and content.

View all posts by Gina Rau