Impressing consumers in today’s continuously evolving, content-saturated world is no mean feat, and many fear GDPR will only make things harder.

We surveyed more than 2,500 UK consumers about their data sharing habits and concerns and our research shows that even without taking into account increasing levels of awareness of GDPR, a fifth of consumers are likely to refuse to share any personal data with brands by 2019. This leaves marketers pondering how to reverse this trend and make a better impression.

Impressing the discerning consumer

The first lesson brands need to learn and accept is that some people aren’t going to give two hoots about them. And that’s okay. Marketers should concentrate on the customers who already love them, and those with the potential to become loyal customers. There’s no point wasting time and effort engaging with people who might have accidentally ended up in a brand’s database on the strength of a one-off purchase, or a mistimed or misunderstood sign-up.

To grow, brands must identify customers who engage with them on an irregular basis, dipping in and out of communication. Once this is pinned down, marketers need to uncover what’s causing this sporadic behaviour, what type of engagement people are reacting to and why.

Armed with this insight, the next step is to focus on figuring out what can be done to entice them further. Understanding what customers value in their relationship with a brand, and acting on that by communicating in a relevant and useful manner, is a great way to win them over, converting their brand intrigue into brand love.

How brands can move from ‘trust’ to ‘must’

Our research revealed that, among a range of factors, well over half of customers (56 per cent) value trustworthiness and transparency as a top priority in their brand relationships. This figure rose to 86 per cent among people aged over 35.

The corollary is that if your customers trust your brand, they’ll not only share their data, they will also be more at ease engaging with you over time. If marketers get to know their target audience well and understand what they truly value, then they have an opportunity to build a lasting relationship.

Meanwhile, so long as customers are given a clear value exchange, they’ll be willing to share their personal information with brands. But we know from our poll that they will be more careful in doing so.

The short-termist problem with GDPR

Our survey indicated that less than half of respondents are aware of how their personal data is collected and used by brands. It comes as no surprise that their concern is rapidly growing. Most of us have been contacted by our banks with messages warning us that there may have been a problem with our cards, for example.

It’s worrying that we’re now regularly hearing news stories about hacked accounts and personal data being stolen, as this normalises the overall climate of nervousness around data. That’s only likely to reduce the scale at which people share their personal details.

Undoubtedly, the way brands interact with customers – and vice versa – will change after GDPR’s arrival in May. Organisations are currently scrambling to understand and implement the changes they need to make ahead of the deadline. But it’s unlikely that as much attention is being focussed on how to win over consumers and make them loyal in the long term. And that’s a problem.

Making customers come back for more

Of course, it’s crucial to nail down consent and lay out your legitimate interests for contacting someone in the first place. But that shouldn’t mean we overlook the fundamentals of CRM to attract and retain customers.

Our research pointed out that 70 per cent of customers prefer offers that are tailored to them as individuals by using data from past purchases. This insight shows that personalising an offer could be more effective in establishing and maintaining a relationship, as opposed to falling in the trap of mass discounting, which can devalue a brand over time.

Marketers also need to recognise that people have different relationships based on what they value, and use the right mix of communication tactics and channels to reflect that. There is not one rule for engaging with customers. It’s critical that brands get a grip on their relationship with each individual customer. Gripes about increased legal and communication burdens aside, GDPR actually gives marketers the chance to do just that.

The positive outcomes of better understanding customers will inevitably lead to stronger relationships. Customers who interact and buy more will ultimately impact the bottom line in both the short and long term.

GDPR is a great opportunity for brands to revamp their communications strategies and start establishing meaningful relationships. We, as marketers, need to stop getting distracted by people who don’t care. It’s time to concentrate on impressing the consumers who matter most.

Read more about how to Rediscover the R in CRM in our latest report available here.


Sarah Hooper

Sarah Hooper


Sarah Hooper, Planning and CRM Communications Director at Amaze One.