SAP’s Mika Yamamoto: Marketers must ‘do no harm’ with customer data

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To comply with the General Data Protection Regulation, companies like SAP have run email campaigns to get consent to continue contacting customers. People who consented are trusting the companies with their information, and marketers must “do no harm” in the way they use that information, Mika Yamamoto, SAP’s chief digital marketing officer, said at Digiday’s recent Programmatic Marketing Summit in New Orleans.

Yamamoto also said GDPR gave SAP an opportunity to clean up its customer data, given that data, whether collected firsthand or bought from a third party, is not always accurate.

“We have to think about the accuracy of our own data also,” said Yamamoto. “When people don’t want to give us their email, they say ‘Mickey Mouse.'”

Yamamoto discusses correcting inaccurate customer data, the marketer’s role in retaining customers and more. Edited highlights from the session appear below:

Marketing to locked-down customers
“My mother is a baby boomer. She has an issue with sharing her data. She has a flip phone because she is afraid of the transmission of information that might happen on her smartphone. She is the most locked-down customer I know. But the baby boomer generation is 70 percent of the disposable income in the United States. We have to find a way to build trust with that generation, and also millennials and everyone else, and we can’t be generic because it’s not one-size-fits-all.”

Over-communication comes with risk
“Customer expectations are shifting. They’re tired of being marketed to. They’re more likely to do business with a brand if they see personalized experiences. All of this is made possible through technology and data. AI and machine learning determine outcomes with a given customer. Spotify tracks music you listen to and gives you a Discover playlist.”

Correcting first-party data
“Some first-party data is useless. [We had] millions of records in the U.S. When we thought through our consent campaign [for GDPR], we thought only 10 to 20 percent would agree to contact us, and we thought, ‘The sky is falling.’ Turns out that we actually hadn’t contacted at least a million of these users in over two years. So they were not that valuable. When we contacted them, some of them were duplicates; some were not at the same companies. It created the need for having good data versus just any data.”

Use customer data wisely
“For personalization, you need to capture the data. Interpret the data to see the needs of different cohorts. As a marketer, we have to do no harm. Identify preferences and make their life easier. Think of ways they will be willing to give you information. We have to think of these trade-offs. We have to maximize for privacy or else we’ll lock down the ability to contact our customers. If we maximize for contacting our customers and are overly personal, we may step in this area of intrusion, not convenience.”

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