My mobile phone company has just asked me to join a programme where I will get relevant offers and deals on things I am interested in, just by signing up. My bank has too. And my credit card company, an airline I use quite a lot, and my local supermarket. You get the idea.
Sounds great! Why not ? All I have to do is give them permission to use my data and preferences in order for them to give me more deals on things I am interested in. This is all good news. Who doesn’t like free stuff ?
The trouble is, I have a sneaky feeling that once they add up the cost-benefit of giving me the free stuff versus their increased revenues, the free stuff might dry up and I will start receiving just sales messages again. And a lot more of them, too, because I ticked quite a lot of preference boxes in order to get deals on lots of things and these companies have revenue targets to hit.
I will get a bit miffed about that - and I won’t be alone. I will withdraw my permission - and I won’t be alone in that either. Once I have said no electronically, I have said no forever, the company cannot contact me again. Oops ! That’s an expensive way to lose the ability to talk to a large section of customers and prospects.
But that is the conundrum we marketers have now. Without a doubt, explicit permission-based marketing will become the norm. It makes sense on both sides: the company wants to make sure they get the best products in the hands of the right customers at the right price; the customer wants to hear about things they will be genuinely interested in from a source with which they have developed a relationship.
But I think we have to fight the corporate urge to get lazy and careless in the way this permissive data is then used. Just because I tick a box saying, “I like good deals” for example, does not give a company carte blanche to strafe me with offers every week.
I think there are three principles for good permission-based marketing:
It will be far more rewarding for the consumer to feel as if the data is used in a relevant, intelligent fashion and in sync with their lifestyle, rather than them almost being able to see the data whirring in the background. Do this for me and I will sign up to it, I will stick with you as a company, feel respected as a customer and recommend you to my friends.
Permission-based marketing does not mean more chances to sell to me. It could and should mean fewer, but better targeted.
Do I want more communications? Not really. Do I want more relevant communications? Yes, please.