How has your data strategy changed since the rollout of data privacy-based regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and the imminent California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)? For global brands, changes have likely been drastic.
GDPR and other privacy regulations like it have handed a new set of challenges to marketers on transparency, access and intent for data that ties back to customers. In short, regulations have made it harder to reach customers with digital marketing tools — and much more difficult to understand who they are and what they care about.
In 2018, The CMO Club, in partnership with my company, Selligent Marketing Cloud, conducted a survey of 69 chief marketing officers and found that 62% rank relationship marketing among their team’s most important functions. While efforts toward relationship marketing help to minimize the impacts of privacy regulations, there’s also the reality that the GDPR could have devastating effects. For example, due to new opt-in regulations, it’s been reported that one brand single-handedly lost 80% of its marketing contacts.
You don’t have to be a data scientist to realize that these contradictory data points spell disaster for brand marketers who haven’t thought through their data compliance strategies. But it’s not all doom and gloom. One bright spot the industry has recognized in the year since GDPR was enacted is the opportunity in humanized engagement. Now that you have to earn marketing opt-ins from every customer, brands are leaning on a tried-and-true engagement strategy: relationship marketing.
As our company has put it, relationship marketing is rooted in the idea that a marketer “seeks to develop solid relationships with customers by giving them direct information that caters to their specific interests and needs, using critical touch points.” This is of particular importance because every communication point with a customer can yield valuable data for highly personalized marketing strategies derived to serve up relevant, seamless experiences. And the better the experience, the stronger the relationship; the stronger the relationship, the deeper the loyalty.
Here are four tactics for better engagement to propel customer relationships forward:
1. Double Down On Events IRL
A large driver of successful relationship-based marketing comes from “in real life” (IRL) events like concerts, meetups and other socially driven gatherings. Events provide opportunities for brand representatives to interact with customers, all the while building rapport, putting a face to the brand and gathering useful information and inbound marketing potential.
To make the most use of events, training customer-facing staff is paramount. Communicate the objectives of the customer interactions, arm them with useful materials (flyers, swag, tablets to log customer information and feedback) and develop a long-term strategy on what the brand intends to do with events-based customer data.
2. Get Visual
It’s near impossible to escape social media’s touch on IRL marketing opportunities. Everything from assigning specific hashtags to installing Instagrammable visuals to using social as a giveaway mechanism has been fairly successful in the age of “digital influencers.” Smart marketers make the most of visuals to drive impressions, extend brand reach and serve as a platform for relationship marketing.
When it comes to the effective use of visual marketing, the motto is: “Pics or it didn’t happen!” Inc. recently gathered seven great examples of “Instagrammable marketing” that are worth checking out. As the boundaries between digital and IRL become increasingly blurred, marketers should prepare to combine marketing concepts developed for cross-channel use to get the best of both worlds.
3. Reignite Direct Mail Campaigns
Whether high-quality print media, personalized coupons or product messages, a tangible print product in the right hands does not fail to impress even in times of digitization. In fact, it can be a differentiator, especially with clever messaging and packaging.
Industry insiders confirm the potential of direct mail when combined with data-driven targeting. According to a survey of 250 multilocation brand marketing managers and decision-makers, conducted by Street Flight in June 2018, 29% said that direct mail is one of the top five most effective methods for local objectives — ranking above the local website and the company’s social media channels.
To launch a successful direct mail campaign, brands must merge different data sets: demographic, engagement and geolocation. This merged approach will deliver strong lead lists that put a brand one step closer to inbound requests with eager customers.
4. Strive For Omnichannel Excellence
There is no doubt that e-commerce will continue to grow at a tremendous pace, but the impact that brands continue to make in the real trading environment should not be underestimated. For example, fashion collaborations are fueling their cult status by dropping limited-edition product collaborations both in stores and online.
Adidas continues to shine with highly successful and heavily anticipated collaborations with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Kanye West with the Yeezy brand partnership and its imminent partnership with Beyonce’s Ivy Park athleisure line. Nike has successfully collaborated with Virgil Abloh, who just happens to be the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line, and streetwear couture brand Supreme turned into a $1 billion brand in part due to collaborations with luxury names like Louis Vuitton.
Unconventional collaborations and cult brands are clearly driving heavy word-of-mouth marketing, shareable campaigns and hype — not to mention revenue — for big brands, and retailers across all segments bridge in-store events and activations to increase brand and product awareness digitally. Brands that collect valuable data in their physical storefronts and merge those data points with digital properties can better contextualize and develop personalized customer experiences.
As brands refocus their data-led approach to customer experience and marketing with a data privacy lens, they’ll have a stronger grasp on connecting and developing real relationships with willing and eager customers. Real relationships will drive better customer understanding, and brands will more effectively deliver exceptional experiences because of the “know me” effect.
Yes, while learning to work with stricter data privacy rules can be initially daunting, nimble and creative brands will learn to use them to their advantage by focusing on what’s valuable and doing away with what’s not.