At the end of each year, Spotify packages and presents data to its users with a marketing campaign called Spotify Wrapped. The data that Spotify gathers from its users are given back to its users in such a way that the users themselves have proven enthusiastic users of that data. This includes not just who your favorite musician or group is, but also indicates what percentile rank you fall into. For instance, you may prove to be not just a top Taylor Swift fan, but rather a “top 1% fan.” This information is sent to users in a graphically attractive package designed to share on social media.
Delight as a marketing and data strategy may seem counterintuitive, given how much hard numbers have been the coin of the realm, but several companies have proven its utility.
The U.K. supermarket chain Sainsbury’s offers another example, injecting delight into what used to be simply personalized offers via its Nectar user card. A Reddit user posted that they’d received a letter from Sainsbury’s telling them they had been the country’s most prolific purchaser of pigs in a blanket. Not only was the customer given bonus points on their Nectar card, but they were also sent their heart’s desire, an additional 48 pigs in a blanket.
People are responding more enthusiastically to these incidents of delight than they do when offered the outcome of an algorithm, no matter how beneficial that outcome is. So where is data a delight? How can we increase the amount of delight our customers feel surrounding data exchange? Is this approach even practical to companies such as Snowflake and its customers? To answer these questions, we spoke to Snowflake’s Cassandra Bruni, Product Marketing Manager for Industry Solutions, and Eva Murray, Senior Evangelist for Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
In the context of Spotify, fun surely is important, but that’s probably because music is something most people associate with joy, relaxation, enjoyment, fun, parties, and special moments. I don’t know if they’d feel the same about their banking data, for example. So I don’t think that fun is the key factor. It’s more about the personal story, the memories that triggers, and the journey it takes people on to reflect on the year that was.
Monzo Bank gives you regular spending overviews in nice, visual ways and helps people manage their spending that way. I believe they also do an end-of-year one, which shows you your favorite takeout places, vacation places, and so on, based on the spending data from your credit or debit card. The fitness tracker Strava also does this and they do an excellent job with it. You get an end-of-year recap of all your tracked activities, including runs, bike rides, etc. It’s compiled as a video and very engaging.
Delight is about me
The exchange of data between user and company is less about fun and more about me, the user, and the benefit I derive from it. Sure, that benefit can be fun, or it could be inspirational (“look how far I’ve come”) or educational (“you learned 1,000 new words in Spanish”). It’s about helping people create and maintain habits, whether that’s an exercise habit or a savings habit. And, of course, the company benefits by making its product sticky and having users come back time and again for using their app, product, or service.
Delight is built on trust
What’s important here, in my opinion, is that users who provide data through their actions and interactions have a very genuine choice in what data they share and how. And that choice needs to be respected.
I think a very healthy and ethical approach to data is to have a good look at the data we keep about customers and assess what we truly need to serve them best. Then archive or delete the remaining data. Companies are great at accumulating mountains of personal data and never using more than a fraction of it. I think customers would appreciate knowing that the data we keep is only the data we need to serve them best and that we regularly review their information to ensure we stay true to that promise.
There is an email that my bank regularly sends me. “You’re prequalified to buy a Maserati.” The bank knows exactly how much money is coming in there. Do they really think I can afford a Maserati?
Delight does not require math
Using customer data gleaned from cookies is definitely not a perfect science. There is a lot of data collection happening and it’s all based on the concept that past behavior is an indicator of future behavior. But I may have accidentally clicked on an ad because of fat fingers on my mobile. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m interested. It just means that mobile has a really high click-through rate because people accidentally click on ads all the time.
On the other hand, there are times that ad targeting gets a little too close for comfort and we need to make sure that we don’t cross those boundaries. People do want a modicum of privacy and I think that everyone’s very entitled to a modicum of privacy, at the very least, including in their browsing behaviors.
Delight comes from context
Some of this is dependent on the individual. Some people are very open to it, some people aren’t. I always thought contextual targeting was kind of an unsung hero of the internet. That’s how a lot of TV advertising has been done for years. Essentially, it’s aligning the ads with the type of content. I’m an avid cook. I love to read food blogs to get new recipes. I’m always buying new pots and pans or random kitchen tools, so show me ads for pots and pans. I feel like aligning advertising with content has always been a very high-performing thing.
As we’re looking at dropping third-party cookies in the industry and consumers are becoming more privacy-conscious, contextual targeting is making a comeback. And from a consumer perspective, I think it works really well.
As industries evolve, they really need to find that line between helpful advertising and creeping customers out.
Delight may provide that guideline.