Blog The power of preferences: why understanding your customers has never been more valuable

A recent YouGov survey, commissioned by SmartFocus, found that poor email marketing causes major brand resentment – and it’s not difficult to understand why.

In a world where people are bombarded with up to five thousand advertising messages a day, it’s not surprising that irrelevant communication causes major dissatisfaction.

The survey found that:

  • 75% of people would be irritated if a brand had an overenthusiastic email strategy
  • 71% cited spam and unsolicited email as a potential reason for falling out of favour with a retailer
  • Listing a customer’s name incorrectly or getting their gender wrong also can also cause damaging brand animosity.

So, how can businesses ensure their email marketing doesn’t irritate customers, but still meet the business goals? The simple answer would be to allow consumers to control their preferences and state their interests to receive relevant communications.


The YouGov survey asked respondents what type of personal data they’d be willing to share in return for more targeted communication. An unexpectedly high 40% of consumers wouldn’t be prepared to share any personal details at all - demonstrating that whilst irrelevant communication irritates consumers, they see little value in sharing their personal information with brands.

This puts retailers in a delicate position. How can they send relevant emails if consumers just don’t want to share their preferences?

Collect onsite behaviour once, use again and again.

Not only can a visitor’s onsite behaviour be used to automate product merchandising, but it also produces valuable implicit data that is often overlooked – such as a visitor’s gender, their brand or colour preferences and even their price-range sensitivity.

Using this data in real-time to improve your onsite experience is a leap in itself – but once collected, the data can be used again to power personalised interactions across multiple channels, increasing relevance and leading to increased results.

For example, 62% of consumers would prefer not to share their gender with a brand - but 40% would feel resentment towards a brand that targeted them with messages based on their incorrect gender. Personalisation solutions, such as SmartFocus' PredictiveIntent technology, can accurately guess a visitor’s gender by analysing a consumer’s onsite browsing behaviour.

This creates a rich, data-driven profile which can be used to dynamically adapt email messages based on each recipient’s unique preferences.  Not only does this enable retailers to create personalised messages that reduce the potential for brand resentment, but it leads to increased response rates and generates more revenue.

As another example, retailers can also use personalisation technology to help maximise a customer’s lifetime value by encouraging repeat purchases, using a customer’s price sensitivity as a driver of relevance. Collecting and analysing a customer’s purchase history enables email marketing to contain offers, appropriate product recommendations and promotions that appeal to each individual’s price point receptiveness. Combined with other preferences gleaned from the customer’s purchase behaviour (such as their favourite brand and most-purchased category), this particular strategy can deliver powerful and relevant reactivation emails, especially as part of well-planned lifecycle campaigns.

Think outside the box.

What data do you have available that is valuable to either the business or that could be used to improve the customer experience? Don’t be limited to the data that is available today, either; think outside the box to discover data that has the potential to add considerable value to your business and customer experience.

What do you think?

Do you have an example of an innovative use of data to fuel more relevant and valuable interactions? Let us know in the comments.


Topic Personalization
Behavioural targeting