Tim Haynes
Tim Haynes 21 May 2018

Revealed: the most annoying things brands do according to consumers

Digital experiences are key to driving loyalty — but have brands overstepped the mark with regards to how they treat customers and what they do with customer data? More and more consumers are getting annoyed with the things brands do without permission.

The digital marketing industry is going through one of the most interesting times in its history. Just as organisations really start to get on board with the idea that digital experiences are key to customer loyalty, they get hit by what might prove to be one of the biggest setbacks the industry has ever seen — the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Consumer trust in social media companies has plummeted since Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to allegedly use the data of more than 87 million people to influence the US election. Now, just 17% of consumers say they trust social media companies, and it won’t be long before consumers start to get suspicious of other brands with regards to what they do with the personal data.

Already, only a third of customers say that they trust the brands they buy from with their data, which isn’t particularly encouraging. If customers don’t trust you, they’re either not going to give you their data, or worse, give you fake data just so you stop bothering them with questions. Just 50% of data brands have on consumers is accurate according to Susan Bidel, senior analyst at Forrester and that research was prior to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In the age of heightened awareness of data privacy among consumers, this problem is only going to get worse.

The implications of rubbish data are devastating for digital marketers — especially at a time when all brands are trying to personalise the digital experience for customers to improve loyalty and drive revenue. That’s only going to succeed with accurate and up-to-date data.

So brands clearly have a job on their hands to rebuild trust with their customers. To that end, Databoxer recently conducted some research into the state of trust between consumers and brands. The results were clear — brands have an annoying habit of doing little things without permission that irritate consumers, and before and trust rebuilding begins, these habits need to stop:

1. Unsolicited calls

Unsolicited calls probably weren’t such a problem before the days of PPI and accident litigation culture. Someone trying to sell a conservatory to consumers living in a second-floor flat back in the ‘90s wasn’t such a big deal, but now unsolicited calls are the bane of everyone’s life. Two in three consumers are happy to admit they don’t like unsolicited calls — a figure that increases even more for women, and for older generations.

2. Unsolicited text messages

Text messages are less annoying than unsolicited calls because they don’t need immediate attention, but they’re still incredibly irritating, say nearly 2 in 5 consumers. And with the sheer number of consumers touchpoints that brands have at their disposal these days, there’s barely any need to send texts any more.

3. Overfamiliarity

Something that particularly annoys older generations, overfamiliarity from brands gets on the nerves of nearly a third of consumers. Even for those brands that adopt an affable tone of voice in all communications, there’s a line that many cross, which is when brands start treating customers like friends treat one another. And nobody wants a BBQ with a brand.

Building trust once again

If you as a brand overstep the mark on the three points above, consumers are going to wonder what else you’re up to. Are you doing anything dodgy like Cambridge Analytica? Are all firms who collect customer data just the same conniving bunch of so and so’s? And while there might not be anything genuinely underhand going on with your customer data, your customers won’t be privy to that, and may start to withdraw their permission for you to use their data, at which point you’re in trouble.

The key to reversing that problem is simply to be honest and open about what you do with data. You need to prove that you’re being responsible with their data, that you have the right security protocols in place to prevent any wrongdoing, and that at any time, you will allow customers to revoke their permission for you to use their data. And you’re not just allowing them to revoke permissions because the GDPR says you have to — you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

Demonstrating responsibility is the first part, and then building up trust slowly is the second part. Consumers are much more willing to give up their data little by little, especially if they receive a something tangible in return. 65% of consumers are willing to hand over personal data for a freebie or a discount. And for those that market to young people, you’re in luck; the figure increases to 91% for 16–24-year-olds.

Only by being responsible with data and by building up your profile of customers over a longer period of time will consumers learn to trust again. Blame Cambridge Analytica — they’ve ruined it for everyone.

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