How to Implement Data-Driven Personalization Strategies in Today’s GDPR World

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Click to learn more about author Victor DeMarines.

At the beginning of the New Year we asked if DATAVERSITY readers where ready for GDPR, and now that regulations are in place, we’re wondering what are the realities and strategies of the GDPR world today. News that more than 1,000 US newspapers are blocking readers from the EU trying to access their websites rather than comply with new GDPR regulations recently caught my eye, reminding me of what a significant obstacle the new regulations are being viewed as across industries.

But rather than hiding from them, the regulations can be used as an opportunity to reexamine and put in place more effective strategies around data management – specifically when it comes to marketing and the use of user data. Because the truth is that even in the absence of GDPR, data being collected from users wasn’t being used very well to begin with. That’s something reflected in a recent survey by evergage, in which only 12 percent of marketers indicated that they were “very” or “extremely” satisfied in the level of personalization in their marketing efforts, while only 38 percent of the 300 marketing professionals surveyed reported being “moderately” satisfied.

There is a way to better connect with customers, while maintaining GDPR compliance – by using anonymous data to get to know users better, and leveraging that data to inform and launch rich, relevant personalization strategies.

Collecting data with Usage Intelligence software isn’t a means, of course, to enable organizations to skirt GDPR regulations. But it can ease compliance when it comes to collecting data that informs personalization efforts. Data collected through usage and compliance intelligence software is anonymous. It is not personal identifiable data. And as such, it can be used to drive robust, relevant personalization strategies through traditional channels like email, and newer ones like in-app messaging.

When Usage Intelligence is deployed, the data collected falls under legitimate interests as a legal basis (the use of data to improve products), which removes the barrier of consent. What’s more, IP address is only used to obtain country location and is then immediately deleted. Since it is being collected, you need to inform your users of this collection in the privacy notice, but it is recommended that you stress that it is solely used to identify a country and then no longer retained.

Knowing exactly how users are leveraging the product and being able to break that down by dozens of parameters helps the marketing team create better content, and tailor it to each step of that user journey.

For instance, by tracking core usage statistics – cumulative usage and average usage, per user, session or runtime – marketers can see the relative popularity for each event tagged, over time, across the entire install base. Drilling more deeply into this data, marketers can understand, for instance, which features users aren’t leveraging and develop educational content to boost use and ultimately, the customer’s ROI. Marketers can also better understand the behavior of different groups, and use this information inform campaign strategies. And by combining Usage Intelligence with in-app messaging, marketers can reach users with relevant content in the moment they’re most likely to engage with it – while they’re using the software.

Let’s consider the example of a vendor dealing with a common issue — low conversion rates after a trial period. By analyzing churn and engagement, the vendor segmented prospects based on use and architecture. It found that the highest churn rates were associated with slow machines with relatively little memory. In turn, certain functionality was purchased by users right away, while different modules took more time.

For each product, usage analytics made it possible to segment different kinds of users, each with their own typical patterns of behaviors, and to tailor marketing campaigns around those evaluation patterns. For modules with a longer sales cycle, prospects who were expected to test the software five times or more received a special discount voucher after three sessions, and a more aggressive offer after the fifth. The vendor also learned that customers usually abandoned the software if they did not purchase within 15 days, and moved messaging earlier into the trial period. Based on the features each prospect used, customized messages provided more content highlighting this functionality. And to put it all together, the software company augmented email marketing strategy with in-app messaging. Conversion rates spiked significantly.

GDPR compliance doesn’t have to stop the presses. Rooted in Usage Intelligence, marketing and especially personalization strategies can be much more effective when leveraging anonymous data.

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