Not anymore.

The Growing Data Trail

Data isn’t just big today, it’s incomprehensibly gigantic. This extends to the amount of information about you that’s floating around. Once upon a time, you hesitated before you gave someone your phone number. Now? It doesn’t matter. Your movements are tracked like footsteps through wet concrete. And the Marketing Team is licking its chops.

Your ever-spreading data trail has turned “real time marketing” into instantaneous marketing, and it’s not the ‘90s anymore -- we are in the era of automation. From ad retargeting and email drip campaigns to the full-scale retailoring of corporate landing pages, your behavior and information is being used to catch (or re-catch) your wallet’s attention. The goal may seem simple -- to convert you to a sale -- but it’s done in such a way that’s intended to create an experience that is “seamless and customized.”

These tactics often do neither. Instead, they span a spectrum from “tone deaf” to downright “creepy.”

Countering the Creepy

We ignore the tone deaf. We are turned-off (if not frightened) by the creepy. In some cases, the tactic is so blatantly obvious, our brains simply filter it out. These forces combined could even make it such that companies aren’t getting the bang they’re hoping for their bucks. Their data hoarding aside, the real issue is that they’ve removed the human element from their marketing. B2Bs have succeeded for years with the human touch, yet B2Cs are moving quickly away from it. They’ve made the assumption that people want to be served “what they want” without being formally (or even loosely) asked. Some people like surprises, but usually involving more pleasurable things than banner ads and pop-ups.

Instead of just lurking behind customers’ backs and predicting their needs and wants, there’s real value in simply listening to what customers are already saying (social media, online reviews, call center support, etc.) and asking those who aren’t speaking up (surveys, SMS, etc.). By gathering this unsolicited and solicited feedback, companies can more effectively address customer needs and delight by delivering on them in a way that will automatically feel more human.

How do you do this? While there are a variety of ways and tools to listen, there aren’t many systems that also allow you to ask customers if they are satisfied with what you already provided them, and what they want moving forward, and house all forms of feedback in one place (and connect it to all that other data you have, such as their past spending) -- though a handful of robust Customer Experience Management (CXM) solutions do offer these capabilities. With this type of system in place, you can dig deeper into your customers’ habits and needs, as well as their feelings about your product and experience (whether they voice that through surveys or online). This new knowledge is a marketing opportunity in-and-of itself, and can create actions that are really valuable to the customer.

Learning Opportunities

For example, a hotel guest experiences a service glitch and reports this through a survey, a feedback form, an on-site kiosk or even via a web forum such as TripAdvisor. The CXM system can immediately route this feedback to the hotel manager and within minutes, the manager can be on the phone with the guest with an apology and perhaps a discount for the following night’s stay. And while the engagement might not be as just-in-time as the ad for the juicer you were just looking at on Amazon, it may just be more fruitful.

And heck, you might even be able to improve your customer experience in the process.

So marketing team, go beyond your stack of data and start listening.

Title image by Everett Collection (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more from our month long look at real time marketing.