I’ll call this one the Consent-Creep Correlation, but basically it’s this:
The earlier you are in a lead nurturing process, the creepier it is to get personal, individualized attention.
There’s good information on this from InMoment available here, but we can condense the relevant data into a few bullets:
- It’s becoming increasingly common for businesses to put personalization too early in their lead nurturing processes.
- There’s actually an error in judgement at play – not just a calculated risk.
- Personal attention still needs to be based on consent, even if our tech works without it.
Consent is the foundation of trust-building, and trust-building is the foundation of lead nurturing.
If there were a “Marketing Word of the Year” award, consent would win for 2018 and probably a couple more years after. Thanks to Facebook and GDPR, consumers and users are keenly aware of just how skeezy marketing can actually be. It’s hard to believe that people didn’t realize that we have the tech and that it’s being used on them, but whatever bubble the population was habitating, it’s bursting now.
The problem is that folks are looking at the path that led to their data being whored out to the highest bidder and trying to figure out where they agreed to any of it. Even when it ends up being legal, it still feels like a violation of trust.
Now, to meet the new European standard (and save some face in the process), businesses and platforms are scrambling to build explicit consent into processes that frankly should have had it all along. I think the major miscalculation on the part of marketers and corporations has been just how good trust feels, and you can still see it in how the majority of larger organizations are approaching conversational marketing.
Common failures in early lead generation stages are coming primarily from a mismanagement of automation.
I don’t know if it’s laziness or stupidity (maybe both), but spoofing individualized attention in automated content is boneheaded. Don’t do that. My rule of thumb is that if it’s easy, it’s probably a bad idea. The whole point of conversational marketing is to be empathetic, personal, and attentive. Obviously we need to speed the process up in order to reach a reasonable amount of people, but not so much that we aren’t actually thinking about individuals.
There are good use cases of automated personalization, but what sets them apart is how they were reverse-engineered from a really good user experience. One of my favorite examples is an email that Intercom, a messaging tech company, put together for a list of 170,000 recipients. Starting with a thoughtful individualized experience where the client would get to see Intercom’s new UI in action on their own website, a group of programmers built a process to automate the creation of each video. The end result was through-the-roof adoption and tweets like these:
— Chris Gallello (@cgallello) May 4, 2018
Choice-Driven Considerations for Each Stage
- Focus on the creation of an individualized experience with full transparency. This would include information gathering, bot conversations, and behind-the-scenes customizations (i.e. smart content). All relevant data that you plan on using to personalize or individualize a future experience needs to be collected with explicit consent.
- Present choices for how you might nurture younger leads (i.e digital vs. in-person, video vs. text, email vs. social vs. phone, etc.).
- Avoid combining personalization and automation, as these tactics can come across as being even more impersonal than doing nothing at all.
- Combine individualized experiences with real value. Communicating that you know someone is creepy unless you’re gaining consent along the way and using that knowledge as an opportunity to provide better service and opportunities.
- Reverse-engineer positive user experiences to determine how automation can contribute.
- Only focus on as many individuals as you can reasonably reach with empathy and genuine attention. Depending on your company size and resources available, this might be 10 or 100,000.
- Craft individualized experiences at a 1-to-1 level. Processes can be common, but the experience at this point needs to be 100% unique. A great example of this is Soapbox. The process for making a personalized Soapbox video is mostly unchanging — you can even memorize a script — but the videos themselves are unique to the recipient.
- Be transparent about the lead nurturing process. Consent should be easy to pinpoint (i.e. your lead remembers asking for individual attention), and communications should never feel unsolicited (even if they are).
- Continue to craft a personalized experience through the decision phase and into the customer lifecycle. Quality conversations affect customer retention numbers, too.