How to Take Control of Your Customer Data

Not too long ago, social networks were a wild west where brands could engage in unbridled conversation with their followers. Millions of users and a couple IPOs later, the number of organic brand and consumer interactions is shrinking as networks shift newsfeed real estate to make room for more paid placements.

With this shift comes a new dilemma for marketers – not only have consumers come to expect direct connections with brands, but brand survival now depends on the insights gleaned from these interactions. Marketers are quickly losing control of customer data and relationships, finding themselves dependent on a growing number of digital channels and shelling out more dollars in attempt to reach and engage their own customers.

Leading brands are beginning to take ownership of their customer information and relationships by enabling consumer connectivity beyond social networks and directly within their websites and mobile apps.

Ownership Starts with Identity

Social networks contain a goldmine of information about consumers’ individual interests and lifestyles, including their locations, relationships, favorite brands, top TV shows, hobbies and much more. Rather than exporting social data reports or relying on inaccurate third-party cookies, smart brands are now focused on collecting first-party insights using social login.

By authenticating their identities using a preferred social network account, consumers grant your brand permission-based access to specific data points housed within their social graphs. This data is then seamlessly passed to your own user database, effectively removing 3rd party networks as the “middle-man” and giving your brand complete control over the customer data you collect and manage.

Moving Consumer Interaction On-Site

Social login also opens the door to moving valuable, insightful engagements off-network and onto your site or app. Socially logged in users have the ability to share content and products directly to their preferred social networks without leaving your site experience, giving your brand first-party insight around consumer preferences and opinions.

Adding comments and reviews to your web properties is another way to reclaim valuable user-generated content (UGC) that may otherwise get trapped in users’ Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds. Giving consumers an open forum for sharing feedback and experiences around your brand builds an interactive, highly engaged community of customers. Not only can UGC help you optimize your products, content and services according to consumer thoughts and opinions, but it also improves SEO performance and keyword discovery.

Turning First-Party Customer Data into Revenue

By taking control of customer relationships and owning the data generated by these interactions, your brand can more effectively optimize user experiences across channels to drive desired behaviors. Capturing and housing these insights in your own database enables you to see social data and behaviors in the context of meaningful on-site actions, like shopping cart conversions and abandons.

For example, do customers that leave reviews have a higher ATV? What are the common interests between consumers that abandon cart? Who are the customers driving the most referral traffic back to your site? Being able to answer these types of questions lays the foundation for proving ROI. Not to mention, this level of insight also enables you to more strategically segment your audience to personalize campaigns in ways that grow loyalty and lifetime value.

Social networks have undoubtedly changed the nature of brand/consumer relationships, but brands that continue to confine consumer data and interactions to their Facebook timelines are missing out on creating truly meaningful customer connections. It’s time for businesses to take ownership of their customer data – and start reaping the benefits.

For more information about responsibly collecting and applying 1st party insights, download our free white paper: Making Sense of Consumer Data.

By Rachel Serpa