Customers will only spare one minute to fill out a survey for personalization purposes

Merkle research on consumer sentiment shows many find marketing tactics too invasive and delivering little value

The tiny amount of time consumers are willing to spend offering data to personalize experiences may be related to ways brands have been too invasive or in their failures to properly represent them in marketing, according to research from Merkle.

In what it said would be the first of a series, Columbia, Maryland-based agency Merkle said The Consumer Experience Sentiment Report was based on a survey of more than 1,000 people.

A full half of respondents said they felt brands already know too much about them, a sentiment that was even higher among men and those with higher incomes. This may be based on some efforts at personalization brands have been attempting through digital channels.

In a chart that delineated between the invasiveness of a personalization tactic and its perceive value, for instance, product recommendations scored high but some activities — such as recommendations for predicted life events — were seen as damaging to a brand’s authenticity.

Merkle consumer sentiment

This was further aggravated by the fact that 71 per cent of consumers don’t see themselves represented in brands’ advertising and nearly a third, or 30 per cent, had been offended by marketing communication of some kind. 

“A quick, up-front questionnaire is a simple way for brands to collect information to deliver a tailored customer experience from voluntarily provided data and help taper any feelings of intrusiveness,” the Merkle report’s authors wrote, noting that 71 per cent were willing to fill one out — as long as it took only 60 seconds. “Personalization was ranked last in order of importance for respondents, who cared more about a product’s quality, price, and brand reputation than a personalized experience.”

360 Magazine Insight:

The Merkle study acts as a something of a counterpoint to the prevailing wisdom that the seemingly unlimited opportunities to personalize experiences based on data should be exploited by brands to the fullest extent possible.

In fact, more than a tenth of all respondents — 13 per cent — said they are against sharing information even if they could benefit from it. This raises the question of whether CX strategies based on personalization are truly meeting a customer need, or foisting something upon them that could lead to churn or lower NPS scores.

Some of the areas deemed most invasive and least valuable are, in fact, what are often touted as the most innovative and existing personalization tactics: creating an online add with a customer’s name on it, showing them Instagram ads with products they talked about, or experiences that use reports of their streaming behaviour.

Product recommendations, meanwhile, might seem like low-hanging fruit at this point, but perhaps it would be better to stick to a single area like this, continue to optimize the experience, build trust and only then seek permission to use more data.

Brands have often talked about wanting to offer their customers “surprise and delight,” but this research indicates that consumers are decidedly uninterested in being surprised if it means seeing their data turned into a marketing strategy without them realizing that would be the outcome.

One of the report’s other takeaways was that consumers wanted to feel heard from, not merely listened to. That means more individual responses to their questions or complaints versus a generic statement from a CEO (these were perceived as least respectful by respondents.

If you only have 60 seconds to ask customers questions, then, maybe it should be to find out other avenues or ways you could gather their feedback — the kind they offer freely, versus what which you have ferret out in ways where they’re not sure how the information will be served up to them later.

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