The growing sophistication of the work is outstripping management's ability to determine whether the marketing department is doing a good job or not. Columnist Jim Sterne offers a new metric: Personally Provided Information.
As more and more data becomes available to anybody with a disk drive, the world is becoming a more and more privacy-conscious place.
At the same time, the role of marketer has shifted dramatically from slogan-writer, jingle-writer and color-picker to digital analyst. The growing sophistication of the work is outstripping management's ability to determine whether the marketing department is doing a good job or not.
"How are things going? When are we going to see some lift in sales and customer lifetime value?"
"We're doing great! We've flattened our bounce rate and boosted viewthroughs while crushing abandonment through retargeting and our path analysis shows that conversion rates are going to go through the roof once we cluster our Twitter acceleration ratios."
A New Marketing Metric: Personally Provided Information
I have a suggestion for a new metric to measure how good your marketing department is. Give them bonuses for collecting personally provided information.
The job of the marketer is to persuade. When we pick a proxy for engagement (which requires awareness and implies affinity), let's pick one that requires persuasion, such as collecting personally provided information.
Do you want prospective customers to give you their email address? Offer them a valued email newsletter in return. Not "valuable" in the eyes of the company, but valued in the eyes of the prospect.
Do you want to collect personal preferences, credit card numbers or product feedback? Offer something of value in return.
The Difference Between PPI & PII
In my book, Personally Provided Information (PPI) is: personally identifiable information freely given in exchange for perceived fair value over time.
Personally identifiable information (PII) is what all the privacy fuss is about. If you persuade me to divulge my innermost thoughts, congratulations! You earned your bonus this quarter.
Freely given information is not captured, scraped, bought, traded or handed to you like an IP address. This information is intentionally given to you by the individual, with full knowledge of the transaction.
In exchange for perceived fair value, I will happily give you my email address and tell you who my favorite author is, with the understanding I will get advanced notice and a pre-order discount when he or she is about to come out with a new book. Thanks, Amazon!
However, when a major bank asks me for my email address, marital status, household income, highest education achieved, retirement plans, portfolio distribution and estimated net worth in exchange for a "personalized" monthly email newsletter, I decline. No quarterly bonus for you!
Avoid the Creep Factor
Ask me for too much information too quickly and it just gets creepy. If you introduce yourself and then immediately ask about my father's health, I'm going to back slowly toward the nearest exit. The same is true online. As in any relationship, it doesn't happen all at once (unless you are really good and can convince me that you'll respect me in the morning).
If your marketing team is really good, they will find a way to be fun, interesting or useful enough that people will tell them everything.
I'm happy that my bank knows all about my finances, my clinic has all my medical records at the touch of a button and my insurance company knows the details about my home and its contents. If you can provide some sort of value in return, I will tell you how much I am planning on spending in your sector and how soon. Remember controlled subscription magazines?
Why would I? Because I want you to recognize me, communicate with me (which also means listen!), figure out what I am trying to accomplish and work with me to achieve my goals. Anything you can do to make my life easier will be rewarded with a seemingly fair exchange of information.
I will willingly give you the vital data you need to SELL ME MORE STUFF.... even if I realize that is the reason for the exchange. Amazon isn't trying to fool me. They want to sell me more stuff. Fine.
Okay, I admit it was a little creepy when they asked me how long it takes me to go through a bar of soap in the shower. But the exchange was a subscription to a special bar soap my wife likes that can only be found in limited supply in local stores. I now subscribe to soap. Fair exchange.
There is one caveat: the information you are collecting must be for me instead of about me. Otherwise, I will tweet my curses about you to the sociosphere until they start trending. You have been warned.
Consider Personally Provided Information (PPI) a new metric to determine if your marketing team has the chops to play in a data-filled but privacy-worried world.
And please, stop being creepy.
Title image courtesy of Shutterstock
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Jim Sterne is an international consultant who focuses on measuring the value of the Web as a medium for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, is the founding president and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association and produces the eMetrics Summit and the Media Analytics Summit.
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