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Inside Retail & Cheetah Digital

Take control of your data strategy

If there’s any takeaway for marketers from Facebook’s antics in Australia this month, it’s that brands need to stop renting their data through social platforms and start owning it by building direct customer relationships.

The time has long since come for brands to move their customer database from “likes” to their actual customer data platform, according to Cheetah Digital’s VP for APAC Billy Loizou – who is fronting the firm’s inaugural Signals Asia-Pacific conference next month. Marketers who own information about their consumers – by seeking their permission to gather personal data in exchange for real, tangible benefits – will see better sales results based on establishing trust. They’ll also be able to offer a better and more personalised experience both in stores and online, while driving recommendations to customers with far greater precision.

“This is exactly what we’ve been saying for the past 12 months,” says Loizou. “CMOs are being challenged on where to spend their declining marketing dollars – in a completely new market, and during a pandemic – and they often advertise via social media with no idea how it’s directly impacting revenue.

“Marketers need to create a strategy first that involves getting closer to their customer. Customers are saying ‘we’re happy to provide our data and sign up to your marketing program in exchange for offers sent directly to me that are relevant’. Brands have instead been entrusting their advertising dollars with these social media giants, and now Facebook can just turn off their advertising and you’re left with nothing.”

Insights such as these will inform the important conversations about permission-based marketing to be presented alongside other core trends discussed at the Signals conference. The event is expected to be an engaging and somewhat provocative assessment of where retailers now stand, having undergone all the disruption and evolution of the coronavirus pandemic – and provide informed perspectives on what key drivers are propelling marketing today. It’s also likely to be an unconventional show – Loizou will be presenting his content from a mountain summit after scaling the slopes, while key Cheetah clients Vans footwear will be providing their perspectives while attempting tricky skateboarding manoeuvres.

“Look, right now, these conferences are a bit of a bore,” laughs Loizou. “Let’s be honest, everyone’s getting what we call Zoom fatigue. We wanted to transform a B2B conference from ‘business 2 boring’ to something a little bit more entertaining. So by getting both great speakers and interesting content, we think we’ll be able to keep people energised and awake – and learning, in a home environment.”

Alongside insights on driving personalisation, Signals Asia-Pacific will discuss critical concepts in building customer loyalty – including an overview of the psychological behaviours of why people engage with brands, presented by advertising guru Adam Ferrier. The event will also involve a roundtable discussion on loyalty with marketing leaders discussing challenges, outcomes and strategies, and will launch a new Cheetah Digital product that will introduce the next generation of personalisation – aptly named Cheetah Personalization. 

The conversations will cover recommendations based on research suggesting 86 per cent of customers in the post-pandemic environment prefer brands to invest in loyalty programmes rather than advertise on social media. In this regard, Loizou sees a loss of trust as being among the key factors in an apparent waning interest in social-based marketing and in consumer migration to more direct relationships with brands.

“Have you ever said something like, ‘I’m hungry, I feel like some Tim Tams’ – and then you jump online and there’s an advertisement for Tim Tams and you’re like, ‘is my phone listening to me? What’s going on?’ People just don’t know what these social media platforms are doing with their data. When Cambridge Analytica happened, I think a lot of people started losing trust in social platforms, so consumers are starting to want more control over their data and knowing how their data is being used. We feel that right now, transparency and trust around topics coming out of Covid are what’s going to make marketers successful.

“I think there’s a lot of guff in the industry right now around marketing transformation” he adds. “It’s hard, and not always glowing. There are a lot of marketers who have sunk costs in technology and are not getting the return they were promised. We want to be as open and transparent about how to get results, through the examples of some good brands that are doing it here locally. That’s how we make sure that you’re sufficiently educated to make the next decisions to fuel your business for a post-Covid era.”

Click here to register for Signals Asia-Pacific, showcasing a wide range of content on loyalty and personalisation in marketing.