Over the last 12 months and probably longer, one of the buzzwords or catchphrases in the digital world has been “big data”.
More than ever before we are able to gather and track information about what we are putting out there in the digital space.
How many clicks, views, comments, likes, conversions, bounces etc have come from where, by whom, when and why.
The pressure has been on to track every possible action, in order to gather information that we think will be meaningful to help produce an ROI for all the things we are doing online. Simply because we “can” track, we feel that surely we “must”.
The question to be asked though, is “What next?” Who is going to process all of that information and turn it into something meaningful for your business?
Do you even have the right kind of staff on board to interpret, analyse and then know what to suggest in response to the information being gathered – on a daily basis?
One of the challenges of our commercial world is that as soon as something has been identified as a good thing, companies hunt for ways to not only make money from it, but also to scale it up, duplicate it many many times and turn it into a formula that can be sold.
This cycle happens over and over again. People love to receive handwritten, personal letters and cards from their friends and family. Marketers decided that presented an opportunity and the world of direct mail marketing was created. Then of course the world of electronic direct mail followed on a decade or two later.
People enjoyed connecting with family and friends around the world via social platforms like Facebook, so marketers – and Facebook themselves, decided they wanted to join the party too, and find ways to generate revenue from this place that people gather to share.
The irony is that once commercialisation reaches a certain point, the people who are being marketed to start to switch off and walk away. The messages they receive through those channels no longer have any meaning to them, and they are certainly not the genuinely personal connections that made the channel worthwhile in the first place.
And ironically, its the mass market approach, the automated communication that creates the “switch off” factor, no matter how well it’s crafted. People know that this is not a communication just for them. Unless it really is.
And that’s where the cycle ends up starting again.
Handwritten letters – by real people to real people, actually work. (Of course they are very time consuming to create and send, but they connect).
Personal connection with customers through social channels like Twitter are far more effective than the scheduled auto-tweets that are supposed to simulate real engagement.
Pretending to be a real person connecting isn’t nearly as effective as actually being a real person connecting. And that means less automation and more investment in human resource.
I believe we should, where possible, save the automation for behind the scenes processes where the customer isn’t directly involved. Not over-communicating means that when you do, and if you do so in a meaningful way that really connects, the impact (and the result) will be so much greater.
Blogger Chris Brogan refers to the same thing as “warm data” vs “big data” – information that matters for individual customers:
I think what lots of us need is “warm” data. What “warm” means to me is “data that matters and can help the customer.” Christopher Lynn, who runs a lot of things at the Colonnade hotel in Boston knew Jacqueline and I were going to a Black Keys concert while staying there one night. We came back to our room to a CD of their music and a nice note. He used warm data to make my perception of the hotel and Chris’s dedication to guests that mattered to him very very high indeed.
Chris Brogan, blogger, author, marketer
So, my question to you is:
What is the warm data you gather about your customers that you can use to give them a truly personal experience with your product or brand?
And are you prepared to empower your staff to deliver that personal experience?