There is a plethora of data out there on your consumers nowadays. Whether it be Zero, First, Second, or Third-Party data, it can be difficult to understand what is best to leverage for your specific consumer marketing needs. It can also be a challenge determining how to manage it, while maintaining compliance with privacy laws surrounding consumer data that are being enforced more and more. Whether a company realizes it or not, preference centers can be the key for marketers in addressing the true wants and needs of consumers.
Before we dive in too deep, let’s first define the differences between the data types available to be collected today and what they can mean to your marketing teams. Ansira’s Senior Vice President of Marketing Technology, Richard Flores, described it flawlessly when he was at Ansira’s annual EiQ gathering discussing the four industry constructs for data.
Due to the phasing out of the third-party cookie, the marketing world has needed to pivot how they collect data and the types of data they need to inform how best to advertise to their consumers with a guarantee of engagement, loyalty, and ROI – depending on the item at hand. As a result, Zero and First-Party data is paramount in modern day marketing. Organizations understand they have much better leeway when utilizing Zero-Party and the more traditional First-Party data verses prospect data. This is especially true with Zero-Party data since consumers have full control over it. With Zero-Party data, consumers, prospects, and/or potential leads provide the organization information based on exactly what they want them to know about themselves. These selections, or preferences, can be changed and evolved over time to keep things fresh and up-to-date where all parties are concerned. Zero-Party data also has a baked-in sense of privacy as the organizations do not own Zero-Party data, the consumers do, thus it cannot be transferred to or sold to be shared with others.
This all brings us back to the heart of the conversation at hand. Preference centers can not only aid companies in the proper collection of data in a world where consumer data privacy is paramount. They also allow for consumers to feel infinitely more seen and heard, which in turn can deepen their connection and loyalty to the brand. With preference centers, organizations can build in questions that grant them access to a powerful data set to market more surgically and with purpose to their consumer groups.
Preference centers are not just about communication settings per individual anymore and if that’s all you’re doing today…you’re missing the mark.
To create preference center offerings and selections that meet their needs, organizations need to analyze what data would be most useful to understand for their success. A well thought out preference center should not only identify the communication channels consumers prefer (e.g. email, text, snail mail, etc.) but also allow your team to deepen the asks regarding what they want to hear from you. For example, you could ask which of your products or services they’d like to hear more about or what relevant topics interest them. Those types of inquiries can produce a powerful gathering of data that will equip you to market to consumers with relevant content as opposed to generic messaging, and as a result, make them feel more understood at an infinitely deeper level.
There is an expectation within today’s world that you as an organization already know a lot about your consumer. When they walk through your proverbial digital front door, that expectation has already been set by all the other digital properties they interact with daily. It is a delicate balance to understand when the use of knowledge and information, if leveraged incorrectly or outside the consumer’s preferences, can end up feeling intrusive.
Consumers need to feel like they’re the ones in the driver’s seat, not the other way around.
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to manage those expectations is through the establishment of a well thought out, easy-to-use, and easy to maintain preference center. It can and should be much more than just a communication channel preference tool. Rather, it should help ensure your marketing messaging personalization is on point, that you’re not communicating irrelevant content that causes fatigue and eventual abandonment from a loyalty perspective, and that you’re upholding data privacy for both your consumer’s and your organization’s peace of mind. Remember, preference centers can be built two ways—one is to build on your own and the other is to use one of the many commercial technology solutions out there to implement it. Regardless of the route you choose, make sure you’re creating your preference center with the ability to propagate data to all the appropriate systems that need it. Otherwise, you will have to sync various technologies with the preferences needed to create customer engagement, which defeats the purpose of a well-managed and easy to maintain solution.
Take the time to investigate establishing a thoughtful preference center both for your marketing teams efforts as well as your consumers wants and needs. They’ll both thank you for it, and in the end, it truly is the digital key to your consumer’s heart.
If you have questions about setting up a preference center for your business reach out to us here.