Year Ahead: Time to put consumers in the driving seat

Dave-GurneyI recently logged on to Facebook and amended my settings. A few weeks ago I signed up to a school reunion group and the number of alerts that were coming through on an almost half hourly basis was unbelievable. Now, instead of being alerted by email every time someone posts I can now browse through them en masse at my leisure, at a time convenient to me. The relief!
The very act of changing my preferences on Facebook is something that social media users the world over do on a regular basis. This means that millions of customers are already comfortable with managing their own data. They are certainly not fazed by it and actively welcome the control over their privacy.
Consequently, with GDPR now only a short hop away, I am surprised that not more organisations have started building customer preference centres (CPC), like those used by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc, so that consumers can be in the driving seat when it comes to their personal information and desired contact with a brand.
As a consumer I will sign up to newsletters or promotions on the proviso that I can remove myself when it is no longer relevant to me. “Unsubscribe” has long been a requirement for digital marketing; but in practice it can be an extremely long, convoluted process, designed to stop the customer from opting out, rather than being a quick and easy tool that genuinely does stop unwanted marketing approaches.
GDPR is being introduced to give more control to consumers over their personal information; a by-product of this is the hope that marketers will be able to forge stronger relationships with their customers based on trust. Consequently, moving forwards in a post-GDPR world it makes absolute sense that consumers should have a say in how their relationship with an organisation is maintained, and they should be able to do it easily and quickly.
A CPC is the answer. It enables consumers to tell organisations how they want to be contacted (or not) and about what. This should be greeted with smiles, not sighs. Yes, it reduces the marketing pool, but it also enhances it and gets them to proactively engage in a value exchange. ROI is proven to be significantly higher for lower volume, well targeted campaigns than for high volume scattergun ones. We all know that, but brand trust is going to be even more important, especially as consumers become more aware of their data rights. It won’t be long before they name and shame brands.
GDPR dictates that organisations must have opted-in permission to market to customers and also provide an easy mechanism for such consent to be withdrawn, which must be adhered to immediately. They also must delete all data held on an individual if requested to do so. A CPC provides this platform.
But the best news is that consumers already know how to use them and actively do so. Moreover, CPC can be fully integrated into an organisation’s single customer view (SCV) to create a fully compliant marketing communications data system that is easily maintained.
The bottom line is that CPCs are not only GDPR compliant but they will save significant budget in the long run and also a great deal of potential damage. The question, therefore, is can you afford not to implement a customer preference centre in 2018?

Dave Gurney is managing director of Alchemetrics

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