With consumers’ trust in brands declining to not-so-surprising lows, marketers need to be smart (and crafty) about how they get and use customer data. Enter Jebbit. Co-founder Jonathan Lacoste first started the data-tech company in college with now co-founder Tom Coburn and has since helped brands like Monster.com and Express gain invaluable first-party data from the modern-day consumer. Read on to see how these ‘declared’ insights are the new data gold and how brands can take advantage.
What was the inspiration behind Jebbit?
To be honest, it was both an inspiration to do things differently, but also recognizing a consumer pain, because we had experienced it ourselves. And that pain initially, this was eight years ago, was centered more on the ineffectiveness of advertising and thinking ‘how can we make it more conversational and interactive.’ But over time, we heard from our enterprise customers and they talked about the different data challenges they face in terms of how to collect and use first-party data. So we wanted to challenge industry assumptions and build a software company that puts consumers first.
How does Jebbit work?
Behind the scenes, what our software does is allow you to create these interactive mobile experiences and publish them anywhere. So it's a URL that can be physically posted anywhere and most of our customers are leveraging us through social or email channels. You might have experienced it if you go to an e-commerce website and on their homepage, it says, something like ‘discover the right product for me.’ Whether it's for cosmetics and skincare or helping you find the right pair of jeans, that solution-finder could be powered by Jebbit.
With increased concerns about data collection and usage, how should brands be thinking about first-party vs third-party data?
There's a balance to all of this so I tried to avoid blanket statements of ‘never used this type of data, always use this type of data.’ But what I think you're seeing are two really important shifts. One is a shift in realizing that it's better to have that direct-to-consumer relationship and investing more in technologies to help you collect first-party data. So, because of regulation, third-party data is certainly experiencing its challenges, and consumers are more aware than ever before of some of those privacy concerns. And so the application of third-party data is changing. It's staying more to creating audiences and maybe targeting ads, but it's not really helpful for creating digital experiences or personalizing communications that make people want to take action. That's where first-party data can really come into play.
How does ‘declared data’ allow for more personalized marketing?
Not all first-party data is created equal and that's where declared data comes in. There are three main tenants within first-party data. There's behavioral data – what you click on online and through digital channels. There's transactional data, which, if you’re an e-commerce company, you have a ton of transactional data. And then there's explicitly consented and declared data, user-generated data, whether it's a lead form or a survey or an experience. And what we're seeing is the balance of marketers realizing that transactional and behavioral data is inferred. It presents great scale, but at its core, you're inferring the motivation or the reason why. Why did someone make a purchase? Why did someone click on this ad? And so as consumers are pushing marketers to create more hyper-personalized experiences, marketers need more accurate and relevant data in order to achieve those objectives.
How is Jebbit challenging traditional methods of gathering insights?
First, no one likes surveys. Most of the time you're guilting someone into it with a Starbucks gift card or something like that and it's generally a terrible experience. You don't walk away from a survey being like ‘wow, that was fun.’ Or thinking that it made you feel better about the brand, right? It's very transactional, dry and boring. On the second hand, insights and surveys are fantastic, but they don't help you achieve the objective of getting to know all of your customers better. And so in a world now where everyone has super short attention spans and they're glued to their mobile devices, we need a mobile modern-day version to learn and progressively understand our customers better.
How can brands stay on the ‘trusted side’ of consumers when it comes to data?
"...if they don't take the data to improve my next experience, I will lose trust."
It's not about how much data you collect, it's about what data you collect that is relevant to the product or service that you're providing and how quickly do you put it in action. When we ran this research, I was surprised to see companies like Amazon as high as they were, but it's because there was that consistent value exchange. When consumers gave Amazon information, they felt there was some type of benefit, like product recommendations or offers - and the speed of getting that benefit back.
But on the flip side, if you are a brand that is collecting a lot of information that people don't perceive to be relevant, it’s a red flag. For example, if Uber was collecting my health and fitness goals, I'd be like, ‘why are they trying to understand that?’ But if it was Nike, that would seem a hell of a lot more relevant. But most importantly, it's about completing the loop – ‘if they don't take the data to improve my next experience, I will lose trust and have questions around what they're doing with it.’
What's currently happening in marketing that most excites you?
The increased focus on loyalty and customer experience and consumer-first marketing. I think that's always been the north star goal for so long for a lot of marketing teams, but I don't think that's how we've always focused teams, incentives, goals or campaigns. And so whether it's the rise in chief experience officers or life-cycle marketing teams, it's clear that there’s a paradigm shift towards becoming consumer-first in everything we do.
Looking ahead five to 10 years, what do you see as the state of data for brands, advertisers and consumers?
There is a huge pendulum swing around these walled gardens of data – the Googles, the Facebooks, the Amazons right now. I think the pendulum will swing back to where consumers have more autonomy and control over what brands collect use and for how long they're able to use it, more than ever before.
"...companies that will win and lose based on their ability to have a direct relationship with their consumer."
That said, I also see the next set of Google, Facebook and Amazons. We're already seeing this and Dollar Shave Club and Harry's and the DTC category in particular, companies that will win and lose based on their ability to have a direct relationship with their consumer and in more in-depth understanding of them. And this may sound like a bold claim, but just looking throughout history, I think up to 20% of the current Fortune 500 will no longer be on the Fortune 500 within the next 20-30 years, just based on the pace of innovation and disruption.