As the head of user experience at Experian Data Quality, I’m often tasked with improving a website, an app or a product. This process involves solving various challenges, such as “How can we interpret our customers’ behaviours so that we can provide them with a better experience and a more relevant service?”
So how do we do that and what’s it got to do with data?
Everything. Gone are the days of making decisions based on intuition – now it’s about having access to data if you want to build relevant experiences based on real customer behaviour.
In my line of work I’m fascinated by the data-driven innovation out there, but what happens if your data is wrong? Data might be revolutionising user experience but I’d like to explain why I believe it’s data quality that’s the difference between success or failure and why getting it right will deliver a significant advantage.
At the end of the day, the relevance of content served by a brand to its intended audience – and the ultimate accountability of the brand's spend on such new technical platforms – is only as good as the quality of data it collects from its users. User experience architects can only “make their magic work” when the data the brand has on users is clean and trusted, especially in a new era of hyper-personalised content that can be made relevant to the user’s location and medium (smartphone, tablet or “phablet”). Getting it wrong could be worse than not personalising at all (but more on that later). From a practical perspective, that means we rely on having access to datasets that have been cleansed and condensed into Single Customer Views (SCV) – a crucial process to ensure that customers’ data and preferences are kept current and accurate.
There are some great examples of brands using data to deliver experiences that stand out. These rely on data, but more importantly, good data. Let’s consider what’s possible when you have robust data quality practices in place…
As brands try to build emotional connections with their target audiences, social media offers the perfect solution - what better way to connect than through users’ daily feeds or “walls”? We spend more time looking down at our phones and much less time looking up to notice billboard or poster advertising. When checking to see what’s going on in your social circles – perhaps with a healthy dose of FOMO – have you noticed that adverts for the brands you love (and some that are becoming more familiar) seem to appear between your grandpa’s birthday posts last weekend and last night’s drinks after work with colleagues? There are 1.74 billion mobile active users (Mobile Facebook monthly active users) as of December 2016 which is an increase of 21% year-over-year - that’s a big opportunity if you can reach the right people with the right message.
With hyper-personalised content, brands can now target advertising campaigns to a very specific audience, at a very specific time, in a very specific location – and collect data on the response to such messages – right up to the minute. A Facebook post at 7pm will result in more clicks on average than posting at 8pm . And brands you use every day are catching onto the trend, for instance, if you frequent coffee shops, you probably have been told in-store about their apps that allows you to locate and order your nearest cappuccino with just a few clicks, avoiding queues and winning loyalty points towards a future treat. Behind the scenes, these brands are constantly learning about your preferences and times when you’re most likely to want that caffeine and/or sugar fix. If you have downloaded the app, next time you walk near their coffee shop, don’t be surprised to get a notification on your smartphone with a screen-licking shot of your favourite drink, topped with an unmissable discount.
But the hype about hyperlocal isn’t just about where you walk past. It is that ability to predict where you are more likely to be AND go based on data aggregation that tells marketers that based on your weekly patterns, on average, you enter the Liverpool Street tube at around 5:20pm and exit, say, Notting Hill Gate at 5:45pm. According to Google , a third of mobile searches are local, growing 50% faster than mobile searches as a whole.
Of course it goes without saying that you only have access to data when the right consent is in place. The forthcoming GDPR offers an exciting opportunity to create even better experiences. Aside from the fact customers will naturally be more engaged with the brand, it will mean that organisations have to maintain a transparent view of their customer base. This should also give consumers even more confidence that their data is being kept up to date and being handled responsibly. That ultimately then means that they’ll be more willing to share it more in the future in return for an even more tailored experience.
And if you still need convincing that data quality is critical, consider the serious brand reputation damage (not to mention the possible financial impact of regulatory fines) of getting customer data wrong. Some may recall Pinterest accidentally congratulating single women on their impending weddings and then sending related advertising and offers. The online brand – famous for the easy to find, build and share pictorial boards – mistakenly categorised their user base tagged as “single”, to “planning a wedding”, based on their boards content. Pinterest took quick action to recover from this blunder, but it served as a reminder for brands harnessing customer data that ensuring their data quality workflows and policies must be in place to avoid potentially catastrophic damage.
It is amazing to see how data is not only revolutionising entire industries but also our shopping behaviour. Earlier this summer, having just booked tickets for a couple of festivals, I had offers for tents and wellies offers appear from a high-street company within minutes… and oh look, there’s a shop just around the corner from me. That certainly made for a hassle-free and happy festival season for me!
If you’re interested in how data is shaping our lives you can explore 10 central trends around data and business in our whitepaper, ‘A data powered future’.
 Facebook Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 Results - https://investor.fb.com/investor-news/press-release-details/2017/facebook-Reports-Fourth-Quarter-and-Full-Year-2016-Results/default.aspx