Transparency and trust: the secrets of selling successfully to digital natives

In order to appeal to the growing number of Australians whose lives are centred in the digital realm, brands may need to fundamentally rethink marketing strategies and the way data is used. Lauren Vaccarello writes about the growing importance of trust and transparency.

Do you know people who couldn’t go days or even hours without posting an update on their life to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profile? In 2020 Australia, these data savvy, digital-centric individuals are increasingly becoming the norm. Latest research suggests 85 percent of Australians aged over 13 have active social media accounts and they spend an average of an hour and 47 minutes a day on them. When they are not on social media, they remain connected with the world by surfing the net on their mobiles and tablets.

Capitalising on the data deluge

A life lived online generates plenty of data – about individuals’ ages and stages in life, their hobbies and interests, likes and dislikes and consumption patterns.

This wealth of information can be a boon for marketers, provided they’re prepared to tread carefully, not alarm consumers by crafting campaigns that make it all too clear their personal data has been exhaustively analysed. It can be a fine line, but the good news is that a growing number of customers expect and welcome a circumspect level of profiling and personalisation.

At a 2019 forum sponsored by Marketing and Spotify, American Express Australia’s vice president of brand, charge cards and member experience, Naysla Edwards, noted customers’ enthusiasm for products and services sent their way as a result of personal data analysis. “I’m a firm believer that if you bring utility to consumers and if you use their data to provide a service or benefit to them, everyone will sign up for it,” Edwards told the audience.

“For me, the personalisation, utility and benefit that we provide the consumer will make that data exchange relevant and build trust.”

Trust and trustworthiness

The latter is critical, and it can’t be taken for granted. When marketing to digital natives, pushing an appealing product or service is not enough. As consumers, they put themselves out there, offering a wealth of information about themselves, directly to the businesses they deal with and via the public domain.

They have a growing expectation that businesses will do same; creating strong online brand identities and being open and transparent about their corporate practices and behaviours, including their hiring policies, corporate responsibility programs and the way they invest their funds.

We see digitally driven brands like loo paper start-up Who Gives a Crap, using their website and social media to share details about their employment ethos, their multi-million-dollar donations to charity and their clean and green credentials. It’s not necessarily the way toilet paper was sold ‘back in the day’ but it’s a way that works today, for digital natives who want to see that the trust they’ve placed in an organisation is repaid in kind.

It’s also the reason digital companies that encourage consumers to rate and review their offerings online – think Airbnb, Yelp and homegrown tradie and odd jobs marketplaces Hipages and Airtasker, to name a few – continue to go from market leader to market leader.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – find out what it means to them

Conversely, there’s nothing that will turn digital natives off your brand faster than the knowledge that their personal data has been treated with disrespect. Store it insecurely so it becomes exposed in a data breach, use it to spam them continually with inappropriate or intrusive messages or allow it to be accessed by a third party without their say-so and you’ll likely kiss their customer goodbye, for good and all.

And it’s unlikely they’ll go quietly. Thanks to the reach and immediacy of social media, digital natives who want to express their displeasure can very quickly put a dent in your brand that can be hard to repair.

Keeping the customer satisfied

We’re living in unprecedented and challenging times. What Australia’s post-pandemic social and business landscapes will look like is far from clear but one thing seems certain: businesses and brands will have to work harder than ever to earn and retain consumers’ custom and loyalty, given the deepening recession Australia now finds itself in. Digital natives represent a significant economic force and using data to shape smart, sensitive and relevant campaigns and offers will be imperative for companies that want to survive and thrive in this tough new world.

Lauren Vaccarello is the CMO at Talend.

Photo by Haneen Krimly on Unsplash.