Data has dramatically redefined the brand experience over the last decade. In some cases, it has migrated from outside the more traditional landscape – being compounded to reveal insight on consumer behavior – to data points that now can highlight why consumers make decisions in real-time as they move through the physical world. Needless to say, we have access to unprecedented amounts of personal information. Marketers and advertisers have the ability to leverage a multitude of personal data points across this spectrum, ranging from physical location to browser search histories and beyond, to create a more holistic brand experience that extends between offline and online experiences.
The sheer amount of data that we have access to is vast, and while it has become a powerful enabler for marketing efforts, the old adage that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ remains true. Brands have a dual responsibility to use that data to improve experiences for consumers, whilst respecting the sensitivity of this personal information. It is imperative that brands strike a balance between personalization and privacy, especially as it becomes increasingly apparent that in our current landscape, the way that organizations treat personal data is an integral component of the brand experience.
Highly personalized advertisements are not new. While the last decade saw much ground covered, with digital ads in particular, the next will see our movements playing a key role, as our physical lives are increasingly tracked in the same way our digital lives already are. While many are touting a North American adoption of messaging for advertising and sales, it is the dimension of location that will make these advertising mediums hit home in compelling ways, accounting for the extreme context required to capture micro-moments.
While data can be used to craft immersive experiences and speak to your audience in exciting hyper-personal ways, it is also paramount to understand that the way this data is treated has become a part of the customer experience. As we’ve seen in recent years, the standard for privacy has shifted amidst public outcry when personal data is used in ways that may be covered in a hastily signed terms and conditions document, but are wholly unexpected to the customer.
As organizations begin to bridge the physical-digital divide by embracing indoor location intelligence, they are being faced with big decisions on how to use that data. The greatest opportunity to differentiate in this age of information may come as a surprise to many, in that it goes beyond personalizing advertisements. In fact, when data collection is used as a means to an advertising end, the customer experience and the opportunity to stand out for the right reasons is lost.
To that end, a set of generally agreed-upon best practices have emerged, urging organizations to commit to keeping personal data encrypted, and to not sell that data to third parties. There is, however, a further opportunity to establish better practices in the realm of data collection, and to make that a positive brand experience in its own right. Companies should be treating the moment of opt-in and consent as a valuable touchpoint with the customer. It is a rare opportunity to stand out from the crowd, and in an industry somewhat lacking in trust, differentiate in the best way possible.
At this critical moment, shift your communications to engage with your customers in an open, honest conversation about how the data collected is being used from an operational standpoint. We go to great lengths to prevent the opt-out, but do next to nothing to make the opt-in a good experience. It is important to lead with this type of transparency in order to increase general awareness and loyalty. The big opportunity for organizations who want to build affinity and trust is to transition the opt-in process from a covert operation into a distinct and meaningful brand experience.
It’s imperative that while we harness the power of location and other data to create hyper-contextual brand experiences, we must also take all of the privacy pieces into consideration as well. When your customers feel secure and confident in how you use, access and protect their data, they’ll be more engaged with your brand and marketing efforts that align with their personal data. When you do make the customer experience around data collection and privacy a good one, you unlock the door to creating holistic experiences that take into account a customer’s entire unique journey.
Contributed by Nadir Ali, CEO of Inpixon.
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