Privacy: What Do You Prefer?
Another way to use the customer’s data is to “close the loop”—that is, share with customers the results of something they did or information they entered. For example, Kintera’s nonprofit customers can provide information to donors on how their donations were used to benefit their chosen cause.
Sending the customer e-mails or customizing content based on what they entered in the customer preference center are explicit ways to use their data to add value. But you also can use implicit means by tracking registered users on your site and offering value based on their actions. “If we have the member’s e-mail address and have been able to track that they’ve been hanging around the digital camera area, we can send them information based on this interest,” says Smith. “Instead of sending them a generic promotion, we send them something we perceive to be of more value to them. In the test we did, we got eight times the return of a generic ad.”
Implementing a customer preference center forces businesses to do something with the data they collect, which is a good thing, according to McNamara. “It requires them to put some thought into it … they have to think about their different channels and customers and figure out what questions they want on the preferences page and what data they want to collect,” he says. “It’s a healthy exercise for an organization to go through because it is an integrated marketing effort, and when they’ve finished they can implement sophisticated e-mail programs, offer more relevant content in e-mail, and automate their e-mail. It leads to a lot of other best practices.”
Linda Formichelli is a freelance writer who has published articles in national business, consumer and trade magazines. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.