The way to engage with consumers is through real-time, hyper-personalised experiences, a new eConsultancy report, in partnership with Cheetah Digital reveals. The report, ‘2022 Digital Consumer Trends Index: Consumer Attitudes and Trends in Personalisation, Privacy, Messaging, Advertising and Brand Loyalty’, indicates that consumers across the UK interact with a brand on multiple channels, oftentimes unpredictably.
Speaking with Paula Thomas on her weekly podcast “Let’s Talk Loyalty”, Cheetah Digital’s VP of Content and Data, Tim Glomb, breaks down key takeaways from the report. He delves into consumer attitudes towards personalisation, privacy, messaging and brand loyalty in the UK.
Tim, who spearheads the global report each year, says consumer insights have long been a significant driver for his marketing strategies. “You can have a great marketing team and many smart people in a room, but if you aren’t truly listening to the audience and getting their sentiment and attitudes, then you’re going to miss the mark,” he says.
It is the third year that Cheetah Digital has released this report, allowing marketers to dive into recent trends. “It’s not just answers anymore. In this report, we’re able to unveil trends over the past three years. It’s amazing,” Tim beams.
The power of personalisation
It turns out that greater personalisation yields return-on-investment (ROI) and long-term consumer excitement. But it’s important to get it right. “If you can personalise at scale, you’re not really doing what consumers expect,” Tim says. “Our report shows a 110% lift in people wanting to be treated as an individual, which really cements Cheetah Digital’s strategy and investment into personalisation engines.”
According to the report, 74% of people want to be treated as an individual. Now realistically, that’s probably more like 100% — everyone wants to be treated like an individual, Tim says. And when the stats are that high, marketers need to take note.
“As a marketer, that’s something you can’t sleep on anymore. Not after COVID. People want to have a voice. They want to be recognised, and they want to be given recognition for their allegiance and loyalty to brands. The data speaks for itself — it’s not me saying you have to personalise; it’s almost 5,000 people telling you that.”
Before anything else, marketers need to create a strategy that involves getting closer to their customers. Customers say, ‘We’re happy to provide our data and sign up for your marketing program in exchange for relevant offers sent directly to me.’
Relationships depend on privacy and trust
In the report, incognito browsing shot up 50% this year compared to last. “It’s like a revolt of sorts,” Tim points out. “For years, marketers got fat on cookie technology. We embraced technology that made us lazy marketers, putting the creative to the side and focusing solely on sales goals. And consumers are over it. They’re done. They don’t care about your marketing plan.”
He believes that the sooner marketers understand that and start building relationships, the better. “Relationship marketing needs a kick in the pants this year,” he says. “It’s time for us to get back to the way we communicate as humans and build relationships. We need to start doing that with our audiences at scale.”
As browsers, such as Google, cement their plans to comprehensively curtail third-party cookie tracking and consumers get more proactive about protecting their online privacy, marketers must shift to a first- and zero-party data strategy to power their advertising and marketing initiatives. They must gain permission from their customers or risk being labelled as “creepy”.
Paula says it’s a fine line between what’s okay to use and what’s just downright unacceptable. “I was recently speaking with a friend about a cold sore she had. And immediately, I started getting ads for herpes creams on my mobile phone. It was distressing,” she shares.
Tim says things like that happen all too often. Cheetah Digital’s report reveals that more than half of UK consumers (64%) believe cookie tracking is creepy. “There is a better way and that’s permission-based marketing. It isn’t rocket science. In fact, it should be common sense,” he says.
“But the data continues to show that, year over year, people are getting increasingly frustrated with those types of tactics. Marketers need to take note and leave those tactics to the real spies of the world. They need to get on with building better relationships.”
Recognition is key
Relationship marketing becomes really simple when marketers realise that people just want to be treated as individuals. The days of batch-and-blast emails are long gone. The report reveals that there has been a near 50% increase in consumers who feel frustrated with a brand that does not recognise their unique desires and needs in its personalisation strategies.
But at the same time, Tim points out, consumers aren’t demanding to be recognised for every single transaction either. They simply want to be recognised for the things they do with the brand, like going to events, engaging on social or visiting the store.
This year’s report also highlights that consumers want to feel like they’re part of a community. In the value exchange economy, UK consumers reward brands that prioritise personalisation. More than half (54%) say they will trade personal and preference data to feel part of a brand’s community.
“For a brand, that means creating a forum for customers to engage and get to know each other,” Tim says. “Brands can create value in more ways than points alone. Upgrades are great, but they’re not enough if you don’t provide a sense of community and recognise individual actions too.”
Paula agrees, adding the importance of innovative loyalty. “With more of that, the whole industry will flourish,” she says. “Consumers will increase their levels of engagement once they have an opportunity to connect with a brand.”
Tim says Cheetah Digital prizes itself on having a robust, customised and emotional loyalty solution. “We don’t sell a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s bespoke; each brand is completely unique. We get excited when brands ask us to come up with something different that goes beyond points, rewards and transactions,” he says.
Email continues to reign supreme
As the third-party cookie continues to crumble, one of the biggest revelations for marketers has been the sheer fact that relationship marketing doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Contests and sweepstakes, for example, are cost-effective methods of engagement.
However, to get the most bang for their buck, Tim says embracing technology is a must. “When brands start using technology to continue the conversation and listen meaningfully to consumers, their loyalty and product offerings become far more aligned with their audience. Technology enables marketers to give the right offer to the right person at the right time,” he says.
Email also remains an incredibly effective tool for marketers to harness. When it comes to driving sales, the report finds that email beats paid social and display advertising by up to 128% in the UK.
“Email remains the number one driver,” Tim says. “It beats out banner ads, social posts and other channels for driving commerce. And it’s been around forever. Email is a staple, and it’s something every brand needs to have for a robust strategy.”
One of the reasons email remains effective year after year is its personalisation capabilities. “You can personalise email beyond just a first name in a database,” Tim points out. “Now, we can inject keywords into subject lines to influence the open rate.”
Relationship marketing for the win
According to Tim, 2022 is the year of relationship marketing. “That’s the term we’re pushing hard at Cheetah Digital this year. And it’s what we want to push brand marketers to re-evaluate. Are they really building true relationships, or are they simply serving their own needs and meeting their own goals?”
It’s also worth noting, Tim says, that it’s ok to learn, to be humble and admit that you don’t have everything sorted. The secret? Nobody has everything sorted.
“Don’t be alarmed if you don’t have your strategy completely mapped out,” Tim says. “Seek out resources, download our report, head to Cheetah Digital or other platforms like ours that have resources and do your homework so you can make the best decisions for your brand.”
The takeaway? Keep the consumer at the heart of your efforts, build a relationship with them and you will win. Your brand will win. It’s just that simple.
To find out more and listen to the entire episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty, tune into the podcast here.
Cheetah Digital is a cross-channel customer engagement solution provider for the modern marketer. The Cheetah Digital Customer Engagement Suite enables marketers to create personalised experiences, cross-channel messaging, and loyalty strategies, underpinned by an engagement data platform that can scale to meet the changing demands of today’s consumer. Many of the world’s best brands, including Starbucks, Hilton, Neiman Marcus, Levi’s, and Williams-Sonoma trust Cheetah Digital to help them drive revenue, build lasting customer relationships, and deliver a unique value exchange throughout the customer lifecycle. To learn more, visit www.cheetahdigital.com.