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Quickfire Tips on Getting Data Capture Right in the Era of the Mobile Consumer
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Quickfire Tips on Getting Data Capture Right in the Era of the Mobile Consumer


Marketing communication, in particular brand communications that are designed to help capture customer data, has become highly fragmented over the last few years, so much so that more often than not, it can turn customers and potential customers off, even if the messages and end results might be beneficial to them.

  • The way to combat this is to personalise as much of your marketing messages as possible and only ask your customers for the information or data you actually need to personalise your service to them. The ideal amount of data is only enough information to be able to communicate with your customer with relevant content.
  • In some cases, that’s no more than email address, shipping address, and age/gender. In other cases, the marketer may want a more complete customer profile that includes lifestyle information, hobbies and interests, additional demographic information, etc.
  • I suggest you work backwards from what the ideal relevant content would be, and then determine what data you need to do that.  If it's more than three or four fields of data, we definitely suggest you stagger the requests over time, giving your customers a chance to complete their “profile” at a pace they are comfortable with.
  • I’m often asked what transparent marketers should do with the data they’re collecting.  Well, total transparency is the best practice here. You are entering into a trade agreement with your customers: tell us more about yourself, and in return you’ll see content that is much more timely and relevant.
  • Think about how to gameify the data collection process. If your customers get something immediate for participating in the collection process, they are much more likely to willingly share their data with you.
  • I suggest letting your customers know, in your own words, exactly what they will get by giving you more information about themselves.  Recent studies have shown that people are much more willing to share personal information if they know a) what you are going to do with it, and b) what they’ll get in return.
  • There are legal guidelines that businesses should stick to. In the UK, it pays to make sure you understand the requirement of the Data Protection Act of 1998, which applies to personal data collection, storage, and usage regardless of the capture device.
  • Mobile devices need marketers to take a different approach to data capture (i.e. via apps, push notifications). Mobile data capture requires instant reward for your customers. Regardless of how you engage (in-app, push), think about how to make the trade of value for information “instant” when executing on mobile devices.
  • You should also remind your customers that you are storing their data. I suggest reminding your customers once per quarter of your data capture and usage policies, and always giving them an easy way to opt-out at any time.
  • It pays to standardise and organise your data to make sure it is easy to navigate. Today’s data transformation tools have made the need for standardised data collection a thing of the past. As long as you can associate what may be different customer ID fields to the same person, don’t worry too much about how the data is captured. It’s relatively straightforward to “normalise” the captured data before you store it in your customer information database.
  • Marketers need to make it easy for their customers to unsubscribe. With each communication make sure you have an “easy button” to let your customers unsubscribe. If unsubscribe is too hard to find, your customers will think you’re up to something you shouldn’t be.
  • Marketers have an obligation to store their customer’s data safely. Any customer PII should be stored as encrypted data to guard against any damage done if a data breach does occur. This way, someone would have to breach both the data and the encryption key to gain access to your customers’ PII.

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Joe Dalton

Joe Dalton

Joe Dalton is the Chief Product Officer at SmartFocus, the leading provider of on-demand consumer marketing applications, and is responsible for the SmartFocus Message Cloud overall product strategy.

Joe has over 25 years experience designing and building applications that address critical business needs, and was the founder and CEO of Knowledge Discovery One (KD1), which is widely credited with inventing and applying advanced analytics, such as market basket analysis, to solve key marketing and merchandising challenges in the retail industry. Joe lives in Seattle, and holds an M.B.A., a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a B.A in Economics from the University of Michigan.

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