How To Use Big Data For Marketing Without Being CreepyBig data leads to relevance for consumers – do they want it? Yes.

Consumers want and expect relevance, and companies know that big data analysis can make their marketing and sales be relevant.

Consumer Data is the New Currency

Consumers trade their personal data for discounts, relevant marketing, and will basically sell their souls to the devil for perks. Okay, maybe consumers wouldn’t sell their souls for perks and marketers collecting the data aren’t devils, but there is a gray area and level of comfort that consumers feel when sharing their data in exchange for benefits.

Companies need to recognize and respect this gray area – and draw a solid line that is not crossed when marketing.

Now, this isn’t something new. It’s definitely an issue that has been around for ages, but since companies are able to collect data through monitoring behaviors and tracking online actions, consumers are not always privy to what data is being collected and when they are actually sending their data to companies for analysis.

Since these valuable online actions provide big data and help marketers better understand what consumers want, how they act, and how to motivate, this data is essential in running a successful business.

So, let’s find that solid line in collecting big data and use it.

Marketing for Relevance Without Being Creepy

Today’s consumers are smart enough to know that companies know plenty about their habits, experiences, and preferences – and they expect companies to use that data to market appropriately. As much as consumers don’t love giving up their data, they will if it means a better experience. So use the big data to your advantage, but follow these three rules:

1. Let consumers know what is being collected and when it’s happening. Although you don’t have to do this all the time, figure out a nice way to ask permission for consumer information.

This rule reminds me of the day in 2010 when I went shoe shopping at (love them) and clicked on a few pairs. I left the site without making a purchase and when I went onto another site, I saw the same shoes pop-up in the Zappos ad on the right side of my screen. Not cool. Creepy, so don’t do that.

While I love Zappos and the strategy of targeting me and showing the products I just viewed, I don’t love the cookies on my browser that I didn’t know were installed. Simply let your consumers know what is happening on the site and consider sending emails for items left in their shopping cart (Victoria’s Secret does this in a sensitive way), rather than “following” them around on the Internet dangling the carrot in front of their noses.

2. Don’t trick them. Consumers don’t love receiving emails that are relevant when they don’t know how they ended up in the inbox. Even though a consumer might be interested in the latest tech toys that will help them save more money and be more successful, if they aren’t sure how you received their email address and ended up in the “to” field, they are more likely to question the “why” of the information rather than receive the value of the content.

3. Be open about opt-in and set expectations. When a consumer opts-in, many things happen. The first is that the company has a more qualified lead because that consumer specifically said that they wanted in. The second is that the consumer gets what they want. And the third, is that a relationship begins between the consumer and the company.

To keep this relationship growing, be sure that expectations are set during the opt-in process. Let consumers know what is happening – you are collecting their personal information to send them targeted emails once a week with messages about sales and project ideas. If that is what a company presents and delivers, it is a two-way street to mutual happiness.