Consumers expect the expected – marketers need to remember customer expectations and the value exchange

Alice Travers

Marketers need to remember customer expectations

Oscar Wilde once said:To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect”. However, the saying ‘expect the unexpected’ is not applicable to the way a brand talks to its customers.

As we know, marketing today is all about the customer experience. This includes the ability to meet customer expectations. Now, customer expectation is relevant to a whole range of things (check out this post for more) but today I want to focus on the ways brands interact with their customers and the expectation of relevancy.

To use an example, not a week goes by when I don’t receive at least one unsolicited PPI or Accident Claims call. I find this quite annoying and if you break it down into the reasons why it’s annoying it is clear that one of the main contributors is that I did not expect that call.

As consumers we are getting more and more savvy about how our data is being used. In many cases we are happy for our data to be used but what we need is to see the value from that data. This is the value exchange. Use my data, but make sure you use it to deliver me value.

Not doing this is foolish for brands. If I did have a need for assistance with my PPI I would almost definitely not use someone who contacted me out of the blue. Now, I’m not (necessarily) saying those companies are calling me illegally. It could be that I’m on a list somewhere having opted in at some point. But simply being just the right side of legal is not enough. Regardless of upcoming regulation changes, or what the marketplace will look like over the next 10 years, this is the way marketing has to go. No more mass spam, no more irrelevance.

To be secure and to future proof marketers need to ensure that they are focusing on delivering value and building relationships based on relevance and interest. My mum said to me the other day that she doesn’t mind adverts – as long as they are original and relevant. Evidently as far as she is concerned a lot of the time that isn’t the case and she resents ad breaks because of it.

Customer expectations

What customers expect in return for the usage of their data

This is a common problem with TV advertising. Historically it has been difficult to prove who was seeing which ads. However, in coming years this should become less of an issue as smart devices mean companies can understand their viewers on all devices and be more selective about who TV ads are shown to.

The ‘expect the expected’ concept should be used by marketers when building new campaigns and activity. Look at the data and decide whether what you’re going to send can be described as ‘expected’ for your target audience.

Could you reasonably argue that these people are expecting what you’re sending them? If not, then don’t send it to them.

Understand customers to deliver the expected

Now the definition of ‘expected’ needs to be loosely applied here. They expect relevancy and something of interest to them – they don’t necessarily need to have asked to be sent that exact message. If it’s a message that they aren’t aware of but you know it’s something they would be interested in and you have permission to market to them then you can send it.

Now, the key is in ‘knowing’ your customers and contacts well enough to make these kinds of decisions. When you look at the information you know about your customer do you have a complete picture? Do you at least have enough of a picture to make a robust decision?

Is all the information you have about individuals joined up? Do you have one view of them? Of course, it all comes down to data. Not just having data but having the right data. Context is required outside of your first party data – just because you know their email address and mobile number do you really know much about them?

Think about yourself – as a person, are you fully represented by your digital presence? What about social media platforms? Is your profile an accurate representation of you, your interests and affinities? What about the actions that you’ve taken offline and the purchases you’ve made in stores?

For a company, not considering the consequences of your messaging is a huge risk. An individual consumer risk (that one person won’t buy from you now) and a brand risk (they won’t buy from you ever). Worse – they’ll probably go and tell all their friends about it. Who knows maybe you’ll be used as an example by someone like me about how not to do things.

Coming back to Oscar Wilde, it may have once been thoroughly modern to expect the unexpected, but that’s now likely to be in respect to the unexpected poor results you’ll see if you don’t consider who you’re marketing to. If you use data effectively and create compelling messaging relevant to your audiences, your customers will come to expect the expected from you and, in return, you can come to expect effective marketing spend and great brand loyalty.

Experian Marketing Services is the leading global provider of consumer insights, data quality and cross-channel marketing. We help organisations intelligently interact with today’s empowered and hyper-connected consumers.

By helping marketers identify best customers, find more, and then coordinate seamless and intelligent interactions across the most appropriate channels, Experian Marketing Services can deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.