I don’t know if you would call this a true revolution but you could certainly call it a forceful “evolution”. It wasn’t that long ago when 3rd party data attribution & appending were standard (and accepted) practice. We all knew the drills, we all knew that it was a slightly less-than-transparent way to identify and engage customers but for a few decades, that’s pretty much all we had to deal with. And it worked. Sort of.
The exclusive use of third party data worked just fine until customers started understanding that their privacy – let alone their identity – was being subverted. And the regulators started stepping in. And the legislators. And the … the list is still growing.
But brands have been talking about transparency and trust for just as long and yet somehow they still operated sizable acquisition campaigns that ran headlong against the public line. I think we were due for this change.
It wasn’t that we didn’t have access to fully-permissioned, freely-given customer data – it was more about making the cultural shift within your marketing group and then finding tools that could actually deliver on that promise.
David Eldridge is CEO of 3radical. Marc Rosenstock is Head of Marketing & Ecommerce at FKA Brands. I had a chance to sit down with both of them recently and talk about what it takes to acquire this kind of trust-based information and then, maybe more importantly, what kind of a difference it could make over the engagement cycle.
The full transcript of our conversation is below. (Thanks to Linda Vetter for editorial assistance.)
The Promise of Fully-Permissioned Customer Data: A Conversation with David Eldridge, CEO of 3radical, and Marc Rosenstock, Head of Marketing & eCommerce at FKA Brands.
I’m here today with two esteemed guests, David Eldridge, who is a CEO and founder of 3radical, and we’ll talk a little bit about what they do shortly, and Marc Rosenstock, who runs essentially all of marketing for FKA Brands, a company that has a bunch of brands, some of which I’m sure you’re familiar with, but we’ll talk about that in a little bit as well. Marc, David, thanks for joining.
Great to be here.
Yes, thank you for inviting us to be part of this conversation.
Over the past several months, there’s been a lot of talk in our world about the different kinds of customer data, different kinds, or different ways, to acquire that data and different utilities of it and I frankly, think it’s a healthy conversation. We’re now talking about ways of acquiring customer data other than third party, because that can get a little dirty. Maybe we’re suffering the consequences of that. But I wanted to talk a little bit, if we may, about the differences between third party data, first party data, what’s now being called zero party data, and David, something I know you’re very familiar with, fully-permission data. There are nuances, but I think they’re really important. So, I’m just going to throw it out to you, David. Maybe you could just talk a little bit about those differences and their values.
Sure. And I think that this is coming against a backdrop where data is really under threat for marketers. And it’s under threat, I think, for multiple reasons. But certainly, there’s been a major sea change in consumer attitudes and understanding of data, and maybe how it might be used in ways that they weren’t anticipating their data to be used. And that’s kind of led to legislation. So, this has become a really hot topic about what kind of data can I be acquiring? What kind of data should I be acquiring? And how should I really go about that. And, obviously, data has become pretty fundamental. We spend, however many billions on marketing technology each year. And without that fuel of data, we’re not going to be able to produce those personalized experiences and get the kind of conversions and even create the kind of products and services that we’ve been creating in the past. So, I think that’s why this is a really topical and an important discussion to be had right now. And for me, kind of the zero party, first party, second party, third party data debate, that’s kind of one dimension. So self-reported data versus observed data versus shared in the club data versus sold data, and probably the more important dimension is actually earned versus taken. So, I believe that organizations that are going to succeed are the ones that are going to have the richest, most valuable data so they can create those personalized experiences. And that data is going to come by actually embracing all of these changes. It’s going to come about by organizations saying, “okay we understand these changes in consumer sentiment and legislation; what we need to do is we need to collaborate with consumers, with individuals, we need to form a relationship where we give a value exchange in return for them giving us permission to use their data, whether that’s self-reported, whether it’s preserved, whatever it is, and we demonstrate that value and that we can be trusted with that data and we earn it.” And that data, I think, is going to be the kind of the new lifeblood of marketing because other data and not embracing other approaches, trying to find loopholes, trying to find ways around things, it’s not only going to get cut off through legislation in the future, but it’s actually not embracing the opportunity to form that trusting relationship and that collaboration around data with consumers
Completely agree. Marc, you have a an entirely different perspective on this. I think your perspective is in agreement, but you get to look at this from the other side of the equation, which is you run this from the brand side. And I don’t know if we’re allowed to talk brands in this particular call, but these are definitely brands that you [the audience] would have heard of in the US. But can you speak a little bit to how acquiring data through either a third party means or first party or, as David was saying, whatever happens to be fully-permissioned given data might affect what you’re doing?
Absolutely. I think that for the last 10 to 20 years, we’ve been trying to leverage data in a way that delivers better economic results for the companies and the brands that we’re working for. Whether you’re an agency supplying information or helping a brand achieve their goals or either brand themselves, we’ve thought a lot about consumer relationship marketing and how to create more personalized experiences, all for the goal of trying to, like you mentioned earlier, David, improve conversion rates and drive sales, and all that great stuff. The issue is that it becomes very “big brother-ish”, right? You’re observing data; you’re purchasing data; people aren’t intentionally providing it to you. And that’s not really the promise or idea that CRM really is achieving or aspirationally trying to get to. I think that it’s trying to approximate a person-to-person relationship that we’re all familiar with in the context of a digital world, where you meet somebody, you share your name, you tell them where you work, and that’s organically building a relationship. And then you expect them to know that information next time you speak with them. And companies really should be trying to sort of hit that idea from the perspective of delivering more value, and better experiences to their consumers and their customers. And I think this idea of going from first party data, which are things that companies might observe about somebody, whether that person voluntarily giving them information or not, is okay. But the idea that you’re getting to fully-permission data, where a consumer is seeing the value equation, they’re providing information intentionally to you as a company, so that you can deliver a better experience back for them or you can deliver recommendations or based on the information I just gave you, is absolutely critical. I mean, that’s where the trust is built. That’s how you build authentic brands. That’s how you build brands that people want in their lives and that are going to provide the kinds of things, services, products, relationships, and experiences that they’re looking for. That’s the aspiration that I think we’ve all been trying to get to from a CRM perspective or consumer relationship marketing perspective. And I think we’re now getting into the world where you can do that efficiently. And you can do that effectively. It’s to me a natural progression. But I think what you’re seeing in the marketplace today is a backlash against the misusing data that people didn’t intend to give to you. They didn’t intend for you to have about them. They want to be in control of the experiences and information that’s related to those experiences. And I think they have every right to and as brands we need to respect that. And we need to understand that getting information in a much more organic manner is going to be better for both the consumer and for us.
I think that we’re, and I don’t want to overstate this, but I really think that we’re at a really critical and interesting and important moment in acquisition sciences, if you will. In that we as marketers have to really look at what we’re doing with the data and how its acquired. Because, as you’ve been saying, as we’ve all been saying, really, we’re in this relationship with the consumer, but it’s largely been a one-way relationship. The data proves it out; that’s no longer as effective as it once was. Because consumers are, let’s face it, much more aware. They demand more. Their expectations are higher; their tolerances are lower; and they want to be treated as if they’re actually in a relationship that we’ve been all talking about. But I think one of the challenges that marketers have faced, up until recently, is how do you acquire that data in a sensible, cost effective way? And what we’re seeing now are some of the things that 3radical is doing, and of course, your approach to things on your side Marc, that there actually are ways of obtaining that data so the mechanics are there. But I think what’s even more interesting is that fully-permissioned, given information turns out to be way more useful than traditionally acquired data. We’ve run tests ourselves and, David, I know that you’ve seen data on your side, as well. But I’m really interested to see how this applies and plays out in the brand world on your side, Marc. David, can you speak at all to what the engagement levels for this kind of data might be? And then also, maybe talk a little bit about the utility of it. What you can actually do with that kind of data that you really couldn’t do with traditionally sourced customer data?
Sure. And I think this is something that, over the last probably couple of years, has become really critical for marketers. Before that, it was almost the more data the better and it does matter, let’s throw it all into the pot. And let’s use as much of it as we can. And I think there’s been a massive realization that a lot of that data actually isn’t valuable. It’s incorrect. So, it’s factually incorrect; it’s not accurate on one side. And on the other side, the people that provided that data didn’t realize they’re providing it for that purpose. And so, when you actually use it, and if you use it in a manner that they, as Marc talked about, might feel a little bit big brother-ish, that’s actually bad for your brand. I was quoting, someone that I’d read the other day, who kind of said, data has been described as the oil of marketing, or whatever, but actually, maybe it’s the salt. You consume too much of it, and it makes you ill. And I wonder if people have started realizing that’s maybe the case. And so, that and legislation, GDPR and CCPA, and everything else that’s coming in, I think has actually created potentially a very powerful environment where people consider what data they should be using, and how much of it they should use, and almost use the most appropriate data in it, an appropriate level to achieve the outcome they want in terms of the customer experience and so on. And so, at the same time, as marketers have been focusing on that, obviously, people like 3radical have been focusing on how we solve that problem. And there’s different ways of engaging people digitally for different purposes. And to gather this data, it has to be really digital to be at scale. And we’ve been turning our engagement platform, VOCO, really very much into an earned data acquisition product. So, we create experiences, just to let you know a little bit about what we do, our platform lets marketers create digital experiences, for the fun and rewarding, in return for value exchange of some sort, which can be access to more content or it can be discounts. It can be the ability to achieve a certain level of loyalty scheme or anything like that up front. And then by providing that data, they get an enhanced value going forward because they have an improved value, improved customer experience provided by the brand. And I think some of the things that can be done with the data we collect, because it’s either self-reported or directly observed and permissioned in that kind of way, it tends to be much more accurate. And so, you can build experiences that are very compelling for individuals using that data, rather than making too many assumptions. And I think also, it tends to provide different types of data. So you tend to get intent data and preference data that really lets you be respectful of the individual in how you create and deliver experiences to them based on their wants and needs at the time, rather than bombarding them, and maybe taking a different view to not try and create personalized experiences where you don’t think the data is there to do it. You can do all sorts of things. But it really all comes down to creating the kind of trusting relationship that Marc referred to earlier on of using data respectfully and appropriately and delivering value with it. And I think that’s what earned data and fully-permission data can do, as opposed to some of the data that, as I say, maybe people didn’t realize they’re giving, which does the opposite. It damages. It destroys relationships. People that complain about their data being used are highly likely to stop being your customer. So, don’t let that happen.
David, I think you bring up a couple of good points. One of the questions that you were asking earlier, Mike, was around being able to collect this data or to learn about our consumers, which is a term I prefer versus just collecting data, right? We’re trying to learn about our consumers. And you asked about how do you do that in a cost-effective way? And I think, to me, it’s less about how do you do it in a cost-effective way. And it’s more about how do you do it in an organic manner, in a way that feels natural to consumers. And I think that the types of capabilities that 3radical is creating with Voco is central to that. It’s doing so in a way that’s transparent with consumers and learning about them in an effort to deliver something they’re looking for, in order to deliver a better experience, education, products, services, whatever that might be, or to customize those products and services and options for them. So, one of the big brands that is part of our FKA family is HoMedics. One in five of US adults suffer from chronic pain today. And they are, every day, trying to manage their lives in a way that enables them to get back to what they might consider a normal life, might get into normal activities. But pain is getting in the way of that. By engaging with those consumers that have specific needs related to their chronic conditions, we can learn about what their particular pain points are. We can understand a little bit more about whether their lower back hurts, their sciatica – whether it’s hurting them from going to work every day or playing with their kids or their grandkids. We can learn about them in a way that enables us then to recommend, not just products for them, but solutions that are going to enable them to manage their day better. That’s the type of information that I think is really valuable for us as a brand, but not because we just want to sell them more products, but so that we can help them address the critical challenges they’re facing every day. If we do that, yeah, we’ll sell a few more products, but we’ll be delivering better experiences for our consumers. And we’ll be doing it in a way where our brand becomes a central part of their life or provides value to them. That goes well beyond a single transaction right on our website or in store.
Yeah, it’s a longer-term view clearly.
So, it’s not about purchasing that data or seeing that they shopped somewhere else and bought Tylenol. It’s about understanding, from them, what their pain points are and having that rich dialogue with them in an organic manner. And that’s where I think you need the tools and capabilities and engagement mechanisms to provide that and do that. That’s where the cost efficiency comes into play – how do you effectively do that? And then the second piece of that equation is how do you then manage to use that data in a way that’s really efficient? So now that I’m sitting in all this rich engagement dialogue that I have with my consumer, how do I turn that around and actually provide that better experience, that better content, all those the things that’s going to deliver an experience that consumer is going to really profit from?
I think it’s brands and portfolios like FKA, they’re leading the charge on this. I know because I’ve spoken off the record with a handful of marketers who love these kinds of ideas, in theory, but might be a little hesitant to do it because this is new vocabulary for a lot of people. It goes against traditional ways of customer acquisition and chasing after your customers. So, I’m keen to know what this looks like in another six months as it plays out in your world, Marc, and as this whole proposition matures in your world, David. And I can tell you, also, that we’ve run side studies on the data, utility, and engagement levels that come from this sort of acquisition. And the numbers, frankly, were astonishing. They were just astonishing how much people were willing to engage with you on an ongoing basis when it was a trust-based conversation, if you will, which is far different from any other kind of data acquisition, even first party, than I’ve ever seen before. So, I think that the sky’s the limit on this stuff.
With that I, and we, could talk about this forever because I think all three of us are really passionate about it. But for our viewers sake, we probably just need to say, “Hi, thank you.” And I do want to thank you both for this conversation. I think there’s a very good chance that we’ll continue on with parts two and three in the future. But David Eldridge, thank you for your time. Marc Rosenstock, likewise. Really look forward to doing this again with you both.
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