Privacy: What Do You Prefer?
When you go to Starbucks, you order a half-caf latte, skim milk, extra foam. The man behind you asks for a cappuccino with soy milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The woman behind him? Coffee, black. Starbucks can handle all these preferences—and even better, once you start becoming a regular customer, the baristas will know what you want before you reach the counter, and will be able to suggest that a new blueberry scone would go great with that latte.
As such, Starbucks and other customer-minded companies have trained consumers to expect vendors’ offerings to be customized to their wants and needs. That’s where an online customer preference center comes in: When customers enter their data and preferences into the center, it allows you to not only serve customers the way they want to be served, but also customize content and ads to their interests.
Although online customer preference centers make sense for businesses, Jason McNamara, divisional president of the database and direct marketing service provider Alterian, estimates that only one in 10 businesses takes advantage of one. Here’s what you need to know to wow customers and boost profits through a customer preference center.
Give them incentives.
Make it easy for customers to get to your preference center. Steve Morse, vice president of marketing at Click Tactics, which offers Web-based marketing automation solutions, suggests placing a link to your preference center on your homepage and including the link in all your e-mails. And you don’t have to rely on cyberspace; try including the preference center URL in your direct mail pieces and even in your outgoing voicemail message.
If a stranger walked up to you on the street and asked for your name, e-mail address and other information, would you answer? Of course not! The same logic applies to customer preference centers; you need to sell the customer on what she’ll get if she provides her information. In the case of content like newsletters, courses and alerts, offer an example of what the customer will receive if he signs up. Always stress the benefits of entering data into the preferences center, including relevant and timely information. “Would you rather give the company your information, or have them not know who you are and take the chance that they’ll market to you and it won’t be relevant?” asks McNamara.