Walk a Fine Line with Personal Mobile Offers

September 14, 2015
Contributor: Heather Pemberton Levy

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Your customer recently shopped for home improvement products. After tracking her behavior, you deliver targeted ads for cabinet pulls and pendant lighting. The goal is to ensure you have enough data to target her interests without overstepping the line.  For today’s marketers, fashioning effective, real-time offers and messages requires detailed and constantly updated consumer information, not just about location but about things like purchase history and household demographics.

Consumers have come to expect consistent pricing and brand experiences across different channels, but they are still wary of sharing information. Marketers face ever-changing thresholds for what people think is an acceptable use of personal information. According to Mike McGuire, vice president at Gartner for Marketing Leaders, gaining the consumer’s trust is crucial. “By exercising care and being mindful of the customer experience, marketers have an opportunity to connect with consumers and bridge in-store, online and mobile experiences,” he said.

Customers want mobile offers and privacy

A study by Gartner earlier this year showed a broad willingness to receive messages and sales offers on mobile devices, as well as to cash in on those offers at different retail venues. For example, 52% of consumers in a February 2015 study said they had received a personalized offer from a retailer in the prior six months and among those potential shoppers, 43% strongly agreed that a relevant offer would influence their purchase decision.

The analysis showed that 21% of consumers reported sharing their location with a retailer on a mobile device, and another 27% said they would be willing to do so. However, they guard their privacy: 52% of consumers said they’ve never shared their location or opted in to a shopping application — and they would not be willing to do so.

Research also showed that consumers place a value on exactly which personal information – the same personal information required to make successful mobile offers – they are comfortable sharing. For example, they are most likely to share their age and gender, and least likely to tell marketers about their household income or to give up their cellphone number.

“By 2018, organizations that have fully invested in all types of personalization will outsell companies that have not by 20%.”

Build trust and listen

Mobile marketers should be transparent about the information they collect, and to share with shoppers how they plan to use the data. The payoff will be substantial for successful organizations: By 2018, those that have fully invested in all types of personalization will outsell companies that have not by 20%.

  • Review and update your privacy policy. Formalize and document your policy on using customer data for personalization. Avoid legalese and use clear language so customers can easily understand how their data will be used and protected.
  • Use quality information. Test the data you gather about customers and prospects from third-party sources for accuracy, and make sure it is current and widely available. Avoid using sensitive information.
  • Be proactive about getting customer feedback. Test personalized offers on a small sample and continuously track results with surveys, customer service alerts and by monitoring social media channels. Listen to and engage with consumers.

Mobile offers will become more popular as consumer concerns about security and privacy subside, and as customers get used to trading personal information for a more personalized shopping experience. However, marketers must use that personal data wisely to build trust with their customers.

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“I use Gartner to bolster my confidence in decision making.”

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