How much is too much

Today, in the wake of COVID-19 when the world is in quarantine and shutdown, digital mediums have become vital, and brands are deep diving into it to stay relevant and continue to connect with their consumers. However, even as mandatory isolation increases the importance of this medium, gaining consumer trust through a digital-only communication strategy is still a long journey for most brands. 

Traditional channels, TV, radio, and print are considered impersonal and one-way communication medium. It does not allow targeted marketing. However, Digital marketing has fallen short of being the panacea many expected it to. Digital platforms with cookies and IDs offer a plethora of data to marketers that can be analysed and used to deliver a personal experience to the consumer. Consumers realise this is a double-edged sword. Their digital footprint is overused and is intrusive. 

A recent report by a leading Media Investment firm revealed that consumers react more positively to a television advertisement instead of a digital ad, as the latter feels a bit more intrusive. The research states 6 in 10 consumers are less inclined to use a product if their data is used for any purpose. For instance, every time a new application is installed it requests for access to your phones contact, camera and many other data sources. Even though we often allow these applications the access they request, it does raise a question in the consumer’s mind resulting in them often stopping mid-way of a transaction. In fact, with sixty-one percent of those surveyed by the Media Investment firm say they would be less willing to buy or use a product or service if companies use their personal data

Other times, inappropriate content associated to a brand, lack of credibility of the content (fake news) and the fear of cyberbullying and online predators can lead consumers to be sceptical. 

Could it then be that a great number of marketers are part of the herd mentality and use data in the same way and are not sensitive to consumers’ lack of trust?

The reality is that today’s consumers are savvy. They are smart and extremely demanding. They want personalised, relevant and consistent experience across online, in-store or via a call. At the same time, they also want their data privacy and security to be maintained. Leaving a data trail across platforms has become inevitable. It may be difficult to cap it completely. What can change and needs to change is the manner in which the data is being used to strike up conversations with consumers. 

The research points out that if companies wish to continue using consumers’ data, marketers may need to offer incentives and communicate the benefits more convincingly. Being transparent about consumer data usage, with clear frameworks aligned will help foster a new relationship of trust in the digital marketing process. 

This brings it back to basics of marketing, isn’t it? Never take your consumers for granted. Listen to their feedback. Be responsible and responsible. Like Maya Angelou once said, “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If marketers don’t respect consumers’ sentiment, they will never forgive or forget the brand.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Radha Radhakrishnan
Radha Radhakrishnan has over 25 years of experience in corporate communications and marketing across different industries and geographies. She has built a reputation as a storyteller and a creative thinker. She has mentored social entrepreneurial startups and has been a visiting faculty at premier communications institutes in India. She is currently the global head of corporate communications at Wipro Enterprises. She anchors the weekly PR and Communication podcast, Mrigashira.

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