‘People-based marketing’. It’s a saying we’re hearing more and more often in the industry and one of the latest buzzwords going around.

Taken at face value, it’s most often interpreted as marketing that focuses on people – a customer-centric campaign. However, the implication that marketing hasn’t always been about people is concerning. We’ve reached a point where it’s revolutionary to consider the ‘subjects’ we serve messages to as something new. Something being people. This can be put down to the transition to an online environment, something which is, naturally, unavoidable.

Marketing has historically been all about knowing how to communicate with customers. Small businesses had this down to a tee, speaking to their customers and identifying where their interests lie. But on entering the digital world, that path became more distant, especially in large organisations where contact numbers are in the thousands.

The challenge comes from the Cookies and device IDs which exist to enable the provision of content (including advertising). They’re not there to help marketers better understand people.

This gap originates from the conflicting requirements of online media consumption. Every digital marketer is trained to acknowledge that it should never be difficult for consumers to access a website – whether that by through requesting an unnecessary login or other means. There are few things more likely to irritate or deter consumers.

It’s when you consider privacy implications, and the need to consent, that the root of the problem manifests itself. A gap between the person and the afore-mentioned device/cookie.

Marketplace evolution

Increased ownership of devices and a want to engage with brands across platforms means marketers’ jobs are becoming more difficult. They’re now tasked with joining up behaviour across devices – it’s not the case of one person and one device anymore.

Data is where it all starts. The complexity, robustness and comprehensiveness of the information deployed is crucial to building a 360 degree of your customers. Just because someone is browsing for luxury cars, it doesn’t mean they’re in the market to buy one, for example.

The same is true when we cast our minds to the financial world. You don’t want to market credit cards to people who don’t meet the eligibility criteria. It’ll not only impact your marketing performance but also your customer, and their perception of your brand. How will they feel if they click through only to be turned down?

The rapid developments we’ve seen in technology put many marketers in a position where they’re guessing who they might be reaching. A far from ideal approach.

In order to truly achieve ‘people-based marketing’ it’s essential all touchpoints are brought together so people are seen as more as those individual, separate interactions. People are about much more than the information marketers can gather through their channels, regardless of how well aligned they are.

With that in mind, it’s down to marketers to build an audience that can be targeted and measured, regardless of channel.


By Colin Grieves, managing director at Experian Marketing Services

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