Wednesday, May 30, 2018

GDPR as Opportunity: How to Build Tighter Customer Relationships

GDPR as Opportunity: How to Build Tighter Customer Relationships

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is going to make marketers earn their customer's attention in a way they've rarely had to before.

Companies will have to collect EU residents' consent to use personally identifiable information (PII)—such as email addresses, birth dates, government-issued identity numbers, credit card and bank account information, IP addresses, mobile device numbers, and biometrics—for explicit purposes.

No more mass emailing customers and prospects and leaving it up to them to opt out. You will need their express consent to email them discount offers, use their social media data, or deliver newsletters, among many other interactions.

Moreover, you will have to work just as hard to maintain the right to communicate in this fashion: GDPR mandates that customers be able to access and change their preferences at any time.

If you listen closely, you might hear the collective groan from marketers all over the world who do business in the EU. Mass email blasts and ubiquitous ads are easy tools to use; however, it's worthwhile to question their effectiveness. A major motivation behind the EU's and other nations' decisions to consider or adopt such legislation is consumers' growing desire for greater control over how brands connect with them digitally. This trend is evidenced by the rise of ad blocking and the increasing creepiness that results from careless data handling, particularly in an age of emerging IoT devices and services.

In the end, though, these new consent standards just force marketers to do what they need to be doing anyway: get to know their customers better, figure out what they want, and harness those desires for mutually beneficial outcomes.

Here are some ways to transform restrictive tools and processes, such as consent, paywalls, and gated content, into strategic customer-relationship opportunities.

1. Use a known need to ask for and deliver more

When you know a customer wants something in particular, that could be a great opportunity to exceed their expectations. The key is to determine which extra benefits to give the customer in exchange for broader consents that go beyond his or her immediate needs.

For example, pizza-delivery customers want to avoid the phone and simply push an Internet button to place their orders. Although these folks are downloading Domino's, Papa John's, and Pizza Hut delivery apps, perhaps they can be convinced to permit these chains to use their order history and customer-profile data to present discounts for special deals.

If customers know they will see special deals on their most-ordered specialty pies or on the day of the week they most often hold "pizza night," they might be more amenable to letting brands send them more information.

2. Stoke FOMO

Companies can do a lot when they know customers' general interests and the specific products or services those customers are looking at. Thus, it's imperative to illustrate the potential value you can deliver if shoppers were to grant consent to use PII. Did that customer know that blender was 60% off last week? Wouldn't it have been nice if the brand were permitted to alert the customer about flash sales for appliances?

This approach could be very useful in getting customers acquainted with the new consent and preference settings that GDPR requires. Brands could preview a dialogue box that illustrates what a customer's experience could look like if the brand were allowed to use certain data and settings. The bigger objective: show people what they're missing out on.

3. Leverage the porous paywall

Companies, particularly in the media industry, have struggled to compete with free-content models on the Web since long before GDPR, but the new consent standards might create an avenue to "componentize" subscriptions to very fine-grain consumer interests.

Instead of austere messages demanding payment for a full or partial subscription upon readers' reaching a free-article limit, perhaps brands could entice readers to browse creative offerings that package articles by topics (e.g., North Korea, cyberhacks), author, or region. The high-quality niche approach has traditionally worked for blogs, but it could be an effective way to incrementalize value exchange under GDPR.

4. Target narrowly, but think broad, with your communication

Your finely targeted communication can reflect broader customer research. For example, a pharmaceutical company can help doctors understand patients before they're even patients. If it sees a consumer researching one of its drugs, it can offer to package research, the patient's symptoms, and a fact sheet in an effort to earn the customer's consent to bring the primary care physician into the discussion.

Whether B2B or B2C, companies can still use retargeting to get a larger perspective on customer segments. Although they can no longer, without permission, shove ads in front of a consumer who left their site long ago, they can still purchase data on larger demographic segments, such as millennials or 35-45-year-old female professionals, from an ad exchange for more clues.

These are not the only methods for turning GDPR's privacy standards into creative marketing initiatives, but there is a commonality between them that can instruct marketers on how to communicate to EU consumers: Use what you know about the customer to deliver additional value. Doing so may require more steps than marketers are used to: Brands will likely have to rely on "progressive consents" to get customers to expand their permissions in increments.

Ultimately, customers and brands will be sure that the latter is delivering what the former want, and everybody will be a winner.


If you need help with your email, web site, video, or other presentation to promote your company, product, or service, please give me a call at 440-519-1500 or email me at

X2Media can help you target your content and get your message to the audience in a way that it not only seen and heard, but remembered.

Until next month. . . .remember. "you don't get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression."
Always make it a good one!!

From X2Media I would like to thank you for your time.
John E. Hornyak
X2Media, LLC 

Five Ways to Make Your Marketing Copy a Whole Lot More Engaging

Five Ways to Make Your Marketing Copy a Whole Lot More Engaging

Before the Web—a zillion years ago now—marketing copy was a one-way, broadcast affair. Companies simply pushed their promotional messages out through mass media.
And their audiences had no way to push back.
The Web changed all that because it's a two-way—or multi-way—medium.
It's the perfect medium for marketers to truly engage with their readers and viewers. It's a place where you can really listen and get into conversation with your prospects and customers.
Wonderful. Transformative.
And yet...
Here we are, more than 20 years after the arrival of the Web, and most marketers are still in push mode—still broadcasting their sales messages at their audiences.
Perhaps it's an exaggeration a little when we say most markets are still in push mode. But if we do, it's not by much. Pretty much every one of us could do better.
Here are five simple ways to level-up our efforts to create truly engaging messages.
1. Don't be that pushy salesperson
The pushy, adversarial approach to selling and persuasion is a holdover from the days of broadcast media.
Back then, simply to be heard, you had to create messaging that was loud and pushy. Why? Because your ads and commercials were always unwelcome interruptions. Ads interrupted your favorite TV and radio shows.
When a message is unwelcome, it won't be heard unless it's loud.
Online, we can take a different path. By asking permission first, we can tone down both the volume and the tone of our messaging.
We no longer need take the loud, pushy, and obnoxious approach.
2. Use simple, conversational language
Once you've put aside the pushy sales approach, your task is to ditch that weird business writing style so many writers picked up at some point in their careers.
Taken from the wild: "Frakbar Cost Management empowers organizations to monitor cloud spend, drive organizational accountabilities, and optimize cloud efficiency so they can accelerate future cloud investments with confidence."
Maybe we can simplify that a little: "Looking for smarter ways to manage your Cloud expenses? At Frakbar, we can help with that."
Here's an easy way to review and improve marketing copy on your website.
Sit down with someone on the opposite sides of a table. Get yourselves a coffee and a large plate of cookies. Open up your website on a laptop, then read a page of your website to your colleague.
Read it as if you were having a conversation with that person, between sips of coffee. Look your colleague in the eye.
Imagine he says, "Hey, tell me a little about your company."
Then start reading from your company's "About" page.
If—within that conversational, across-the-table-with-cookies context—reading that page out loud makes you sound like a complete idiot, then it's time to do a rewrite.
3. Get the language right by listening first
Imagine you're a nutritionist attending a conference of your peers, but you accidentally join the wrong meeting and find yourself stuck with a group of sanitation engineers.
I'm guessing you'd find it hard to engage in any meaningful way with others in the room: different vocabulary, different concerns and priorities.
You'll find a similar disconnect between many companies and their prospects and customers, simply because the companies never bother to listen carefully and figure out the vocabulary, concerns, and priorities of their audience.
That's odd, because it's super-easy to listen to your audience online.
Here are four ways to get started:
1.   Encourage more interaction through your social media channels, and then study the language of your most enthusiastic commenters.
2.   Publish more surveys, and include open-ended questions. Study the most-detailed replies.
3.   Invite visitors across all your digital channels to ask you questions. Get a feel for their priorities and their use of language.
4.   Read relevant reviews at Amazon, and check out questions and answers on Quora.
Collect, collate, and study all the data, and you'll be in a much better position to truly engage with your audience.
You'll be speaking their language.
4. Leave space for your readers with questions and stories
The old-school way was to write both editorial and marketing materials in lecture mode: writing at the audience.
Writing in this one-way style is a terrible way to engage anyone.
A couple of simple ways to correct this are to...
1.   Ask more questions in your headlines and within the body text. A question signals inclusion. It makes space for the reader and his or her feelings and opinions.
2.   Tell more stories that are relevant to your audience. That's another way to make them feel included. They'll feel you get them. They'll feel more engaged.
Either way, you increase engagement by leaving some space for the reader.
5. Be imperfect, approachable, authentic
Don't make deliberate errors. But you can make your business feel a lot more human-friendly if you stop trying to be perfect.
Your writing doesn't have to be totally grammatically correct.
And if you make mistakes, own them. Customers will almost always forgive you when you own up to an honest mistake. They won't forgive you if you try to qualify or water down your apology.
It's OK to be imperfect. People connect with that. They'll feel closer to you.
Let's wrap it up
There's nothing terribly hard about any of these five ways to make your marketing copy more engaging.
That's not the problem.
The problem is that too few companies make the choice to be more engaging. They're still stuck in old-school, broadcast, command-and-control mode.
So that's step one.
Let go of the command-and-control thing. Commit to being more engaging.
Get into conversation with your audience.
They'll love you for it.