Almost three out of four Canadian consumers (73%) say that when they give a company personal information - such as their age, email address, income or date of birth - they expect the company to tailor offerings and deals in return, according to a survey from business analytics software firm SAS and Leger Marketing. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

Unfortunately, only 37% of those who reveal personal information say they get more personalised marketing as a result. And not meeting these customer expectations can be dangerous for the companies they choose to deal with. Half of those surveyed say they have actually stopped doing business with a company because of a bad marketing experience, men being more unforgiving than women (55% versus 49%.)

"Consumers expect organisations to be relevant in how they talk to them. It's a give and get: If I provide you with some key personal information, you must use what I give you to send me offers which align to my interests, and serve me in a way that makes sense," explained Lori Bieda, customer intelligence executive leader for SAS Americas. "When companies don't do that, they lose the privilege of having that customer and their communications are simply thought of as 'junk mail', and you don't get share of mind, never mind share of wallet. Analysing customer purchasing habits and matching promotional offerings to their needs is one of the best ways to increase customer loyalty."

Regardless, the desire is there to engage more deeply with businesses of choice, as 60% of Canadians said they would like to receive more personalised marketing material, and 50% would be more likely to buy from a company that personalises its marketing. In addition, 46% say they would be willing to hand over personal information in return for more personalised offerings.

If a company does decide to personalise its marketing, it should be aware that consumers are acutely aware of the efforts being made. Two thirds (66%) said they can tell when a company has done its research properly and tailored its marketing to them. "It is essential that companies not only understand their customer expectations regarding the use of personal information, but also how best to communicate with each individual to offer tailored deals," Bieda warned.

When asked how their favourite companies communicated with them, email was the top choice (73%), followed by mail (47%) and social channels (13%). The latter, perhaps not surprisingly, was much higher for 18-34 year olds (25%), but it should be noted that even among that demographic, of which 93% say they use social media, email was still the preferred means of communication.

Canadians not having their marketing expectations met may also be impacting the degree to which we divulge personal information: 18% said they give away more personal information than they did five years ago, while 27% said they now give away less. A total of 93% say they have divulged personal information to companies.

Information that Canadians said they would be willing to provide in order to receive more personalised offers and promotions included:

  • Email - 65%
  • Age - 59%
  • Postal Code - 55%
  • Education level - 46%
  • Marital status - 45%
  • Home Address - 28%
  • Birth date - 27%
  • Sexual Orientation - 23%
  • Income - 16%
  • Home phone number - 13%
  • Cell phone number - 6%