The Running Commentary


Customer contact (privacy vs. relevance)

call centreThis post pertains to the issue of privacy vs. the issue of relevance and the explosion of unsolicited mail that seems to pervade society today. Increasingly one is spammed electronically or bombarded with “direct mail” through snail mail. I know that I am not alone in my condemnation of all of the unsolicited advertising and so I decided to do something about it. I decided that I would contact the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa, to have my name added to the “do not contact listing”. I enquired about how many people have had their name added to this list. The amount absolutely shocked me. I anticipated that the number must run into the hundreds of thousands, given the host of complaints amongst just my immediate contact base. The approximate number out of 22 million economically active South Africans under 80 000 people.This got me thinking…. If I did this what effect would it have on me? I would loose the opportunity to see any specials that might come up. I would not know about “the latest in weight loss products” (heaven knows I could use this!) While I am not in the market for a lot of things, there are certainly a few things I would be really interested in. By adding my name to this list I might be excluded from the opportunity to take part in any offers around the products that I am interested in (for the marketers out there mobile phones, gadgets and cars to name but a few).

I have subsequently spent some time looking into this topic and really am drawn to one conclusion. The marketers out there are either too scared of data or simply do not have the correct tools to analyze their data in order to better segment their marketing effort.

As an example, I received an SMS from Renault advising that as one of their loyal clients, they have prepared a special trade-in option for me. They directed me to an Internet site into which I typed a code and voila! I received my “special”, un-personalized generic offer of R 5000.00 better than book value on my trade in. What amazed me, is that they new I was a Renault client, they took the time to develop a site, sent me the sms and then gave me a generic offer on a generic site.

The technology exists to have developed the offer in a more personal manner, one that I might have actually responded to.

At least they made an effort though….

I really believe that marketers in this country and in this environment are going to have to come up with more creative ways to spend their marketing budget. Segmentation becomes even more crucial, a blank generic approach is not longer acceptable for a number of reasons:

1) ROI
2) Customer Contact must be personal
3) Social Networks are growing – statistically I am more likely to buy an item as a result of a positive comment from a friend’s friend than I am to buy as a result of a direct approach from a business.

So what started out as a post about relevance vs. privacy has ended with a call to the marketers out there to say, I am not as concerned about the privacy issue as far as your contact with me, but more the relevance that you contact will have in my life.

Happy hunting….

Mike • April 14, 2008

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  1. HoTsTePPa April 15, 2008 - 4:44 pm

    Very true. And I agree that Renault fell short by 1/2 mile for going the extra mile. Interesting though, is that the return from offline marketing to online is VERY VERY low. Developing a slightly more complex website and marketing plan for the campaign would not have cost much more, but I see the lack of enthusiasm on their part too.

    You bring up a very important point about comments and reviews from fellow users. The most popular online stores are successful purely because of this feature. And embracing the web 2.0 concept of allowing user interaction and user content generation is still a concept that needs to be accepted by design and marketing companies in SA.

    As for removing yourself from the marketing database, I am not sure about that. If i could remove my name from certain products or bar all call centres contacting me, I would appreciate that. Spam email, I can handle as a quick browse through the subject lines in the spam filter and then hitting “delete forever” isn’t going to hurt my clicking finger. But, I would still like to receive snail mail ads. Occasionally I pick up good stuff in there. Most recently was an advert by ABSA about their new Platinum Package which is a great saver for bank charges and managing your cash. Saving me about 65% on banking fees as we speak, so good on you ABSA.

  2. Mike April 15, 2008 - 11:06 pm

    Thank you for your comments. ABSA mail out around 40 campaigns a month and and I understand it they have had great results. Clearly you are one of the successful results. I have elected to leave my name on the “list” as it were to ensure that I can keep up dated with the latest offers.

    I am certainly looking forward to see how things progress in this space.

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