You might have seen the story of a customer who recently received a surprising note with their McDonald’s delivery circulating on LinkedIn. The post shows a picture of the classic McDonald’s brown paper bag and a note. It’s not what one would usually expect to receive alongside a Big Mac and fries, but neither is what the note said:
McDonald’s did one thing very few do that made a world of difference regarding its use of data in marketing. With two words, “we’ve seen,” the company led with transparency–a key element in building trust when using data, according to the Harvard Business Review. What this does is wash away the negative connotations that often come as a side effect of data-driven marketing, which can often feel overly intrusive and suspiciously personal.
Instead, McDonald’s actually used the data–and the fact that it has it–to connect with the customer. By making them feel seen, they also feel heard and understood–something that most humans psychologically desire even more than love, according to Psychology Today. And this is just the beginning of what made the fast-food chain’s approach to data-driven marketing so genius.
Businesses often get in the mode that customer data can be used for improved ad targeting leading to increased sales, or even dynamic pricing leading to increased profits. But as companies look for ways to use data to benefit them, there’s a tendency to overlook how it can benefit their customers, which creates a win-win situation for both parties.
Part of what made McDonald’s move genius is that it used data immediately. It didn’t wait weeks, months or even years to draw insights and make sweeping conclusions. While a vast amount of data is necessary for guiding large decisions and strategies, in terms of personalization and customer experience, fresh data is the best data. So using it while it’s fresh will yield the best results for your customers, as you’re reaching them when it matters most.
Data has become synonymous with highly calculated, if not robotic results. Yet if data is to be used to optimize a business and provide an improved customer experience, it needs to have a human touch. To do so, make space for last-minute opportunities and leave some strategies to, well, the humans, who will recognize things like the emotional weight a customer ordering delivery to McDonald’s might be experiencing, and find very simple, yet human ways to connect with them.
In an effort to do more in less time, marketing has led businesses to segment people by anything from interests to buying habits. And while this is generally a good thing for general marketing, it’s hardly true personalization. Data holds the power to enable us to truly understand our customers as individuals, not groups or segments of our total target audience.
To know your audience, you have to know the individuals it is composed of and find unique ways to speak to and reach those individuals. While it’s no easy feat to know hundreds, thousands or in the case of McDonald’s millions of customers, data opens the door to individual insights and customer experiences that truly qualify as personalization.