Marketing can get too personal: Panel

Marketing executives at the ExactTarget Global Connect Tour in Sydney debate whether data-driven marketing is making things too personal for the customer

Inspired marketing is increasingly reliant on data and analytics for customer relevancy, but can your efforts become too personalised?

That was one of the key questions raised during a panel session of marketing executives at the Sydney leg of ExactTarget’s Connect Global Tour on 15 May. The panel was chaired by the chief of the Association for Data-driven marketing and Advertising (ADMA), Jodie Sangster and featured Microsoft’s head of digital, Jeff Flanagan; GrabOne head of marketing, Campbell Brown; DealsDirect CMO, Linda Barrett; and 12 Week Body Transformation marketing director, Jimmy Storrier.

While all four panellists admitted to pursuing more targeted, segmented marketing activities using customer preferences and behavioural information, Brown advised others never to underestimate the power of the wildcard. His own company, GrabOne, is a daily deals site launched in New Zealand.

“Relevancy is very important and we spend a lot of time on that, but leveraging what is trending also works very well for us,” he told the audience. “You need to understand the threshold of the customer for personalised information and know just enough to help make that decision for them. A big lesson we have learnt is that trending is a good fallback.”

Storrier claimed too much personalisation of information could in fact “creep” customers out and recommended a balance of individually tailored marketing with content that matched the “tastes of the tribe”.

“Consumers also want to belong to the group, rather than have us talking just to them and no one else,” he claimed. “I think we as marketers can get too personalised and we’re still learning the right balance.”

Barrett claimed the timing of purchasing was another key consideration in the 360-degree view of the modern customer and a factor in understanding when they buy. She pointed out the online-only retailer’s best-performing digital communication with customers is its 6am newsletter, which includes a plethora of offerings and in fact goes against the concept of targeting.

“As a customer I want you to know me, but also connect me with things that are relevant at that moment in time,” she said. “It’s about tailoring the offer and the occasion.”

Flanagan also saw the timing and value proposition of the product as key to keeping the customer front and centre of Microsoft’s marketing efforts, particularly given its broad product offering. Panellists were also asked what they considered to be the key essentials of today’s CMO. For Barrett, today’s marketing chief must work to a data driven, more analytical framework and hold strong financial skills.

“The creative is still an important part of the role, but these data and analytics skills are equally as important,” she said. “In the retail space, your core adjacency as a marketer is usually the head of merchandising and while this relationship is still relevant, you’re also going to be increasingly engaging with the CIO and CFO.”

Storrier agreed the CIO and CFO should be a CMO’s best friends and added a technology background and knowledge is also important. In addition, CMOs should be the customer advocate at the boardroom table and be able to tell a story well.

Barrett also saw marketers taking more risks and becoming more adventurous, while Brown stressed his passion for data. “There are so many products you can build off that and it’s what is driving mobile, email, ad serving and so many other different ways of connecting,” he added.

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