Companies Struggle To Turn Data Into Experiences: Here’s How To Do Better by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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Marketers may understand the importance of data, but according to a February 2019 report from the CMO Council and Harte Hanks, that doesn’t mean they know how to use it. After polling more than 150 executives, they found that none indicated they were equipped to use new intelligence points to improve brand engagement. That’s not good, especially considering how much younger generations prioritize great experiences.

One thing is certain: Data still holds the key, even if no one can find the lock. So how can companies overcome their struggles to transform data into the experience-improving asset it should be?

Digital Empowerment for Human Connections

Chief marketing officers understand that relationships trump sales pitches, and customers recognize the companies that do it well. Amazon, Nike, and Google have kept their empires on top by prioritizing omnichannel engagement over funnels and quotas. That’s easier for industry titans with mountains of insights, but smaller companies may have a tougher road to enlightened experiences.

Experiential marketing exists to encourage customers to adopt brands that align with their personalities. It’s why Red Bull hosts extreme sports competitions to align its products with energy and ambition, why Glossier turns a simple shopping trip into an immersive brand experience, and why Vans chooses to reignite its iconic Warped Tour for a 25th-anniversary run.

Behind every successful experiential activation is a company with hard-won data insights. Fortunately, you don’t need direct access to Google’s rich databases to design memorable, data-informed experiences. Follow these tips to give audiences the engagement they deserve:

1. Cultivate trust through privacy.

Any company with a computer can collect data, but consumers are tired of handing over information and getting spammed in return. With news of breaches and robocalls in the headlines, audiences want brands to keep data safe from anyone who would abuse it.

Meet that expectation by transforming a commitment to data privacy into a marketing asset. Go above and beyond to keep consumer data safe. Audit databases, regularly purging unnecessary information. Lastly, make sure to inform the consumer that you’re doing this; offer regular chances to update their information or opt out.

“When someone grants permission they are acting consciously, becoming an active participant rather than a passive source of data to be pillaged,” writes internet privacy expert Simon Carroll. “Permission equals engagement.” When consumers know your brand protects their information at every turn, they become more willing to engage with your experiences, setting the stage for better long-term relationships.

2. Personalize with smarter tools.

Businesses understand that they should personalize their customer interactions. That isn’t news. However, the tools they use to accomplish that goal continue to evolve. If you want to keep up with customer expectations, you also need to keep pace with the tools that make that possible, such as smart badges that gather data on event attendee participation (e.g., booths visited, mutual interest between other attendees, etc.).

“Artificial intelligence-enhanced personalization techniques such as these smart badges ensure that customization doesn’t come with Big Brother-level strings; they primarily benefit the attendees receiving those tailored touchpoints rather than exclusively existing to serve event-owner metrics,” says Alex Nuttall, associate partner and digital strategist at Kindle Communications.

For example, after partnering with Kindle, McDonald’s beat out Microsoft and Cisco Systems in an event app-development competition by personalizing its franchisee app without overcomplicating the user interface. Additionally, Nuttall recommends using tools such as RFID, near field communication, and other tech to automate data capture at large events such as conferences. The lesson here? Stay abreast of the latest ways to give audiences what they want.

3. Encourage voluntary participation.

Consumers don’t like taking marching orders from brands; they want to exercise agency and engage on their terms. Unlike traditional marketing — which is often interruptive — experiential marketing allows participants to opt in (or out) of brand engagement. That simple switch makes a major difference in the way audiences perceive the brand behind the experience.

Canada Goose offers a perfect example of this in action. When customers visit certain brick-and-mortar stores, they can test out the brand’s famously warm outerwear by stepping into a so-called “cold room.” The space itself is similar to a regular fitting room — except it can be set to a range of temperatures, many below zero. The key element here is that Canada Goose doesn’t push customers into the freezer. Participants are free to choose whether they want to step into the cold room or casually browse on their own.

The experience is both fun and functional, as it helps customers make more informed purchasing decisions. For Canada Goose’s part, the experience helps increase foot traffic in its stores and drives loyalty among consumers who can see for themselves how warm the merchandise really is.

What’s all that data good for if you can’t give your audience the experiences it craves?

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No amount of data can replace the feeling of a great relationship. Even the most personalized ad imaginable doesn’t compare to a voluntary experience. Put customers and their privacy first, utilize the latest tools to unburden users, and create voluntary experiences that benefit the brand and audience alike.

April 25, 2019 at 05:31AM
https://www.forbes.com/sites/serenitygibbons/2019/04/25/companies-struggle-to-turn-data-into-experiences-heres-how-to-do-better/
Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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