Farce of Data-Driven Marketing

data-driven marketing fakes intimacy“Eat your own dog food” is a term often used in technology startup circles. It refers to a practice of using the technology your company develops to support your own company business processes. Indeed, if your tool can benefit your customers so well, how come you don’t take advantage of it? Startups rarely have the resources for large marketing departments and “eating your own dog food” helps them to learn intimately how their customers experience their technology, and the consequences of its use.

Of course this concept is not limited to startup marketing. It is very difficult to professionally “communicate the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling that product or service” without intimate understanding of customer experience with this product or service. Personally, I find the above definition of marketing discipline too limited. The purpose of the exercise is the creation of customers, and that process does not end with “selling that product”. The creation of a customer is based on an experience that meets or exceeds expectations set by the promise communicated by marketing. Yet many marketers persist in futile attempts to buy shortcuts to trust. More often than not it backfires.

As more transactional data becomes available every day, marketers try to use big data technologies and concepts to reach more consumers more effectively. The problem is: how they interpret “more effectively”. It seems the technological complexities of implementation often obscure the fact that intimate understanding of customer experience is not buried in a pile of data points.

“data-driven marketing is trying to “fake” intimacy, to recreate true relationship through a series of data points.”

Intimacy is borne by trust, yet when some brands try to win consumer’ trust,  their opening move is to violate their privacy.

“Emily Wilkins, a blogger, wrote about receiving a huge “Celebrate Baby” catalogue from Target after she miscarried, along with mailings from Gerber, American Baby magazine, and Similac. “None of them got the memo that I’m no longer pregnant,” she noted. Another writer wished aloud that Amazon.com would stop showing her deals for strollers and car seats, adding, “It kind of doesn’t help that corporate America is knocking on my door with daily reminders.”

Farce of Data-Driven Marketing

Perhaps data-driven marketing efforts should be re-focused on how people experience the products. Grabbing consumer data without asking for permission, in search of trigger points to activate a cash register, creates an effect opposite to trust. Asking for permission to use your data alone, can start a meaningful relationship that may lead to intimacy. There are no shortcuts to trust.

In the age of the automation of everything, authenticity is a rare and precious currency. Use data to learn what your potential customers want to experience as opposed to faking intimacy.

 

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