Data, Identity And The Art Of Keeping It Simple

Data, Identity And The Art Of Keeping It Simple
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Shifting sands in the digital landscape mean we need to find new ways of recognising our customers. Verizon Media ANZ managing director Paul Sigaloff explains why keeping things simple is the best approach for success.

Do you know your blood type off the top of your head? I think I’m O positive. Or is it O negative? It’s the kind of question we all should know the answer to, but probably don’t.

In the realm of data and identity a similar question can be asked of us all. Except this one has only three possible answers: Haves; Have Nots; Ostriches.

This scenario was canvassed at Verizon Media’s most recent edition of Identity Decoded, which took a deep dive into a new emerging world. It’s a world where we need to find new, innovative ways of getting to know our customer—and helping them get to know us.

As our head of data Dan Richardson pointed out, the business you work for will invariably fall into one of three easily recognisable categories regarding data collection.

First there’s the ‘haves’. This group is the best prepared for the future. They’re already identifying people who are providing their consent by logging into their website or using their app. They most likely have a sophisticated CRM database ticking over and have a well-thought-out identity strategy.

The next group, the ‘have nots’, may have a website that is collecting cookies from people who are visiting their properties. But their visitors are probably not logging in, and the business may not be collecting their emails or phone numbers. They’re doing what’s worked in the past, but won’t in future.

And then there’s the ‘Ostriches’. Those in this category are probably doing all of their business within a walled garden. Which means they are only able to use what’s available to them within this environment, and burying their heads in the sand ignoring the wider world.

Interestingly, none of these approaches is the right or wrong way of doing things. Of course, if you are a business that wants to find growth through digital channels into the future, then you really ought to be in the ‘haves’ category.

There may be very good reasons to be in the ‘have nots’ or the ‘Ostrich’ categories though. And as Identity Decoded panelist and IAB CEO Gai Le Roy astutely outlined, there is really no need to hoard data that your business has no use for. Her advice was straightforward on this point: don’t be afraid to let go.

Whichever of the three categories your business falls into, if you want to improve your data collection, then don’t be afraid to start small.

And while it’s a big change, it’s actually something that’s pretty simple to kick start—especially if you take the time to find the right partner.

Working out which provider will work for you can be as simple as taking the time to compare your databases with theirs and see how they match with their solutions. By doing that you will find the low-hanging fruit, which is a great place to start your transformation to a ‘have’.

Whatever your data strategy though, finding the right way to engage with people isn’t always straightforward. The best advice for those who are unsure of what to do is to keep it simple and treat potential customers with respect.

Bring the identity conversation to the fore, just as you might engage a customer visiting a physical shopfront. Ask for consent for information in a simple fashion, free of jargon, legalese and small print. Demystifying things is a surefire way to put people’s minds at ease. It is also much more likely to drive a positive response.

As IBM CMO Jodie Sangster told the Decoded audience, we need to find an easier way to gain people’s trust and have them share their information.

She pointed to a video on data privacy she had seen which was fronted by Lee Lin Chin. Although it was only a few minutes long, it humorously explained how the company was using data in a human way. It was the sort of thing a lengthy page of microscopic text could never convey.

Bring the brand to life, create some personality and you’ll make people buy into it and trust you more. Just think of how you’d prefer to be treated.

A happy customer, after all, is an engaged customer. And there are big opportunities that come from having people logged in to our sites. When people are doing this—effectively scanning their swipe card at our door—it’s very easy to have a discussion with them.

Equally important is demonstrating the value exchange. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. If someone tells you their birthday in a sign up form, why not fulfil that value exchange in the most time honoured way? Give them a present.

MediaCom AUNZ CEO Willie Pang made a similar observation, citing the ongoing success of the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. It’s effectiveness, he explained, speaks to the heart of what consumers want. And that’s being understood and receiving something that adds value to their life—in this case companionship.

He’s right. By providing something meaningful to those who engage with us, we have the chance to earn their fealty. The trick is to make sure we are always relevant, but never intrusive. There are cautionary tales here. As Le Roi also outlined on our panel, a certain alcoholic beverage delivery provider she’d given her details to was seriously stretching the friendship. Their barrage of near daily sales offers had crossed a line, tempting as they are.

Which is why it’s essential to always think of what the customer would want most when we contemplate our approach to data and privacy. So when developing your strategy for the future, be polite, be relevant and keep things simple. Or as we strive for at Verizon Media: be human and helpful.

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Paul Sigaloff Verizon Media

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