For marketers today, it is the best of times and the worst of times. We have never had so much data at our fingertips. Nor have there ever been as many unique channels to connect to consumers. Leveraging these two assets to better understand our customers and reach them more effectively have become vital tools in a marketer’s arsenal. Yet, some brands still fall into the trap of assuming they have permission to use this data and these channels on their own terms, instead of that of their customers. What ensues is the rise of the ‘deletist consumer’. As shoppers increasingly try to take control of the growing volumes of communications they receive, those companies that send badly targeted messages risk finding themselves at the mercy of the delete button.

In our latest global digital 2.0 research, the Aimia Institute explored how consumers are coping with the new world of data-centric marketing. We surveyed over 10,000 consumers in the UK, France, Canada, USA and India to understand exactly how consumers feel about the types of brand communications they are receiving today and where, when and how they would prefer to receive messages in the future. The results of UK and French consumers certainly showed that while for some brands, it is the best of times, for plenty of others, if left unchecked, they risk one of the worst times for customer relationships yet…

 

Communication volume becoming unbearable 

It will not be a surprise to learn that consumers are already receiving too many irrelevant messages from companies and struggle to cope with the volumes, particularly when it comes to emails. While 56 percent of UK respondents said they were more likely to take notice of email offers than those delivered via other channels, 74 percent still think they are getting too much email overall and feel that the volume continues to rise. This figure grows to 77 percent among French shoppers. Equally, almost one in five British consumers surveyed (19 percent) and close to three in ten French respondents (27 percent) agreed that they cannot handle their current email volumes. 

As a result, we are seeing the rise of ‘deletist’ behavior as consumers harden their attitudes towards brands and develop a more aggressive set of responses. A total of 58 percent of UK and 50 percent of French respondents said they now opt out of the majority of brand email communications completely. Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) of UK and French consumers equally respond to the overbearing levels of communications by simply closing accounts completely. The same applies to push notifications. While not yet as abundant as emails, our research found that almost half of British consumers did not want to receive push notifications on their phones, prompting similar ‘deletist’ behavior. In the UK, 55 percent of those surveyed and 60 percent of French respondents said they have deleted apps off their phone because of poor communications.

Clearly, as an industry we must change direction before communication with customers stalls completely. Whether via email or push notifications, message relevancy is key to gaining consumer’s trust. Brands must earn the right to contact their customers through tailored communications that demonstrate understanding of what they want to receive and how they want to receive it.

 

A lack of transparency around data usage leaves consumers wary

Phone apps are a staple of many a consumer’s shopping habits today. They equally offer businesses a vast pool of information on their customers. Unfortunately, a lack of transparency and understanding around how data is being used means that many consumers are not comfortable with brands accessing the majority of their phone features. In the UK and France, an average of only 17.5 percent of respondents said they would give grocery apps access to their location while  on average 15 percent would let travel apps use this feature.

Beyond location, approval to share information from shoppers drops to the single digits for most other phone features. In the UK, 8 percent of respondents said they would let grocery apps use their contacts, falling to a very low 5 percent for banking and 4 percent for travel. To gain consumers’ trust around data sharing, it is essential that brands clearly communicate how they use this data and demonstrate the value of the data exchange with relevant and valuable information and messages for each individual customer.

 

The best of times …. The worst of times ….

The rise of the "deletist consumer" illustrates the importance for marketers today in not just getting the message right, but about using the right tools to deliver the message at the right time. Instead of doing things ‘to’ consumers in a one-way conversation, long-term relationships with customers are built through a dialogue between brand and customer, where personal data is used ‘for’ and ‘with’ customers for mutual benefit.

For example, our research showed that an average of 22.5 percent of UK and French consumers surveyed said they preferred to be sent grocery offers just before they were about to do their shopping. The same shoppers also said they were more amenable to getting travel deals while they are looking for flights.

In a world where communications across all channels will only get noisier, this offers a golden opportunity for brands that get it right and to become a trusted voice. Showing that you are listening to your customers and leveraging customer data to produce tailored, personalized communications on the right channels is a powerful tool to build deeper and more loyal relationships. Get it wrong though, and you may well find that your brand as a regular victim of the delete button.

Martin Hayward is Senior Vice President Global Digital Strategy and Futures, Aimia.

For more information on how we can help your brand be a trusted voice to the consumer, contact us at [email protected] or visit www.aimia.com.

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