Marketers need to get their companies moving at the “speed of trust”. When they achieve that, the business grows faster because fewer things get in the way. That was a key message Derek Laney, Salesforce’s head of APAC Product Marketing, delivered to senior marketing executives at Which-50’s recent Personalisation in the Age of Privacy executive briefings in Sydney and Melbourne.

“When you trust each other, you just move faster,” said Laney.

It also makes business sense because it drives growth, he said. Data from the recent Salesforce State of Marketing report showed companies that outperform the market were seven times more likely than those that lagged behind to say they had the balance between privacy and personalisation right.

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“Trust creates speed, and with consumers that means they buy more. There is more repeat business, more cross-selling.”

Increasing scrutiny of the use of data by companies — driven by big regulatory changes like GDPR in Europe, or news stories such as the Cambridge Analytica revelations last year concerning the US election — is cutting through now with consumers. And those consumers are clear about who needs to fix the problem: businesses.

Laney quoted research by Edelman on the issue of trust, where the company asked consumers who should lead the change in the use of consumer data.

“Overwhelmingly, 76 per cent of consumers said, business needs to lead this social change. And they said, ultimately, CEOs are responsible for leading out us out of the mire, leading us out of the swamp.”

According to Laney, that demonstrates that consumers are not looking first to government — although they certainly want the government to do the right thing.

“But they’re not going to wait around for that. They think that businesses should lead.”

The message for marketers from these insights is that as owners of the customer experience, “We need to advise our CEOs on how our brands should be positioning, and how we pivot in our industry to trust.”

Laney said the that at the end of last year Salesforce commissioned an additional study called Trends in Trust, to dive specifically into these issues.

The results suggest the message is getting through — especially among the market leaders. However, as technology improves, new problems are emerging.

“Those at the top end are saying, ‘we’re on this now. We’re confident. We’re getting our data together. But we’re starting to run into some challenges where we’re now able to do more than we should.’ This is new,” he said.

The trick is to act contextually and avoid slipping into behaviours a consumer might consider creepy.

“If I’m dealing with a prospect who doesn’t really know me at all, is it really okay to show that I understand and know them? Or is that just creepy? But if I’m a banking customer, I’ve got 20 products, I’ve been with the bank for 20 years, the bank should understand me and know me — so maybe it’s a bit more appropriate to demonstrate that understanding in the way that we position with them.”

Empathy is critical to getting this balance right, he told attendees.

“It’s about data science and it’s about using it with empathy in mind. Thinking about that, how do we balance these two things of trust and personalisation?”

Right now, now companies still have a long way to go.

Another Salesforce study — called The State of the Connected Customer — found that most consumers (54  per cent) do not believe businesses they deal with have their best interests at heart.

“They may trust the company to do the best for itself, but they don’t trust that it’s going to go that extra mile and really look after them. That’s really interesting.”

So what should companies be doing?

According to Laney, marketers need to stop focusing on compliance and instead make trust a core value.

“Customers are demanding it. Our State of Connected Customers study revealed that 84 per cent of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is required to win their business.”

Laney concluded, “Successful marketers have to excel at technology, trust, and empathy. That’s key.”

The Which-50 Personalisation in the Age of Privacy panel discussions were sponsored by Salesforce, a Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit member. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of our readers. Membership fees apply. 

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