Newsflash: Your customers don’t want to give you their data.

You’re probably aware of many instances of data breaches that involved companies whom you assumed could be counted on to protect your data. You’ve probably also received many robocalls this week because your phone number has found its way on to different third-party lists. And you’ve probably received tons of spam messages today because your email address has similarly been distributed after you provided it for what was presumed to be a legitimate usage.

Perhaps you’ve gotten savvy and learned how to avoid sharing your personal and business data by resisting attempts to “get to know you”, to “add your cell phone number for extra security”, or to “sign up for a mailing list so that you can get the latest updates”, etc.

What does this trend mean for your events and customers?

My last post discussed the creation of target personas as a way of better getting to know your best customers and prospects. But that’s not an activity you should undertake if you are not truly serious about servicing your current and future customers. Here are some facts you’ll want to consider:

  • Most events don’t use the data they collect to differentiate their marketing offers based upon what they know. Typically, they send the same message to hundreds of thousands of people.
  • Likewise, many events will send emails once, twice, three times a week, particularly during the 12 weeks immediately prior to a show, doing so without consideration of the potential “annoyance factor.”
  • Still, others offer attendee information to sponsors and exhibitors prior to a show. There often is no constraint on the usage nor any thought about data privacy laws or just common sense. Despite the protections of regulatory initiatives like GDPR in Europe and CCPA in the US, the misuse of personal information continues.
  • Or perhaps they hide the attendee’s opt-in permission to be contacted deep within paragraphs of small print that no-one can be bothered to read.
  • Few attendees want to get pinged by an RFID signal as they walk past a vendor booth. Nor do they like being tracked as they enter a conference session or have the time they’ve spent on the exhibition floor captured. My own experience is a good indicator: at an industry event last year, the chip of my chip-embedded badge I was given was quickly put in the men’s room trash. Did the analysis of “my” data, therefore, conclude that I ate some bad crawfish or was otherwise indisposed?

The state of the industry is such that if I provide you with my information it could be subsequently obtained by many different companies who will then pester me until the end of time. Once I have given someone my data, that proliferation means that I have forever lost control of it. As a result, I have little interest in providing my information, unless I have trust in whom I am giving it.

Here’s an article that goes further into the extent – consciously or unconsciously – giving up data:

The trend for many executives, particularly decision makers, is to provide as minimal amount of information as possible when registering for events. Given that wariness, can you afford to be mistrusted and blackballed by not managing the information you collect in the right way?

If you ask for the data, make sure you use it for the customer’s benefit and not just your own….

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