(BPT) – Every day, people use data to influence their decision making — from where to go for dinner, to selecting stocks in which they should invest, to where to live. Every Google search we perform, every Yelp review read or written, each item of clothing, houseware or electronic device we put in our virtual cart, is another data point companies can use to personalize our experience with their brands.
This begs the question: How do we differentiate between those brands that are using our data the right way, versus those that have a long way to go? Second, how do we help the brands we love understand us better without sacrificing our privacy?
1. Understand which data to share.
Think about your favorite shopping app or website. Does it know which brands you prefer? What about your shoe size? Does it have your zip code stored for shipping estimates? Does it make appropriate recommendations? The strongest relationships in life work both ways, so if you want a brand to know what you want from them, perhaps it’s time to share a little. Taking five minutes to fill out some basic profile information in your “preferences” could, at the very least, save you time on future shopping excursions and might even lead to a surprise find.
2. Use data to get the best deals.
When you’re shopping online, you can quickly compare prices for the exact item you want to purchase across multiple vendors, and, if you have time to wait, be alerted should the item go on sale. The best example is travel. There seems to be a never-ending list of websites available for booking flights and hotels, but booking the first flight you see without shopping around is rarely going to get you the best deal. Countless studies have shown booking on certain days of the week, or a particular number of weeks ahead of your trip, will yield the best results. From there, one still has to compare prices against different websites to find the best fare. Luckily, some of the top search engines are making this even easier for consumers by indicating whether the price is high or low. The art of finding the best deal is really in comparing the data.
3. Know where to draw the line.
Ultimately, most companies today are still just scratching the surface when it comes to understanding the impact customer data can have on the profitability and success of their business. There is still a lot of room for growth when it comes to companies effectively using data to address consumer needs. It’s up to each one of us to make sure we are sharing the right data with them, while also using that data to our advantage to get the best deals and online experience possible.