Trends we Like: A little more conversation, a little less data, please.

/ 5 August 2021

Trends and innovation reviews are normally December’s domain; however, we think it’s always the right time to be keeping up-to-date with the newest marketing movements and technologies. This is especially true after the disruptive change to the marketing landscape over the past year and a half, and the necessary adaptations and opportunities that have come as a result.

Leveraging martech innovations, particularly with AI advancement, leads to more robust data sets and sources that can weather the storm of radical uncertainty. These innovations are also aiding the continued rise of Conversational Marketing as an effective tool to increase the levels of personalization that is now expected from consumers. Despite this, privacy concerns continue to simmer away, but it’s how organizations use their data rather than the fact that they have it, which appears to be the crux of the issue.

These three trends have caught our eye this year and here’s why…

  1. Achieving the balance between Personalization and Privacy

While the very public recent changes to Apple’s iOS update would have you think that the latter is more important to consumers, the real answer is somewhat grayer. 3radical’s recent Consumer Insights Report revealed some interesting insights into this arena: 

  • 68% of consumers surveyed stated that their contact information was the data they were least comfortable sharing
  • But, 81% are willing to share their contact information data in exchange for something of value

These two stats make it clear that most consumers are willing to share their data – but only under the right circumstances. Increasingly, consumers are demanding something of value in exchange for permission to collect and use their data. 


This shows that the importance of open and transparent data collection presenting a fair and meaningful value exchange has never been higher. Going one step further, consumers are increasingly willing to share their data in exchange for an improved service. As an example, customers of the personal styling service Stitch Fix take a survey that asks for relevant personal and behavioral data before making a series of product recommendations through a (human) stylist. The value exchange is not only clear but an enjoyable part of the customer experience. 

Organizations need to establish trust to capture data in the first place and be open about how they deploy it, providing consumers seemless control of their experience.

2.            Shifting from big data to small data and wide data

When it comes to data, more isn’t always better. The COVID-19 pandemic threw not just a spanner but the whole toolbox into the works of the traditional analytics techniques that rely heavily on large historical data sets. In a post-pandemic world, utilizing smarter AI to extract more content from less and more varied data will allow businesses to adapt and respond to disruptive change, according to Gartner.

Small data uses techniques, such as few-shot learning or synthetic data, to extract more insights from less data. Already this is a key area of interest for small or new businesses that have little historical data to draw upon. Wide data takes a variety of sources for analysis and attempts to discover a link between the different data formats.

“Both [small data and wide data] approaches facilitate more robust analytics and AI, reducing an organization’s dependency on big data and enabling a richer, more complete situational awareness or 360-degree view.” Jim Hare, distinguished research vice president at Gartner

We believe that consented, earned data provided by the consumer in a transparent, motivating, and mutually beneficial environment creates the richest data. Leveraging these data sets by analyzing, using small data techniques, will generate the most valuable insights to base your future strategy upon.

3.            Adopting personalization into your Conversational Marketing

Not a new concept but a trend that continues to grow in relevance and importance. Conversational Marketing is what it sounds like: positioning your marketing messaging as a dialogue with consumers to form a more interactive and authentic experience – like putting customer assistants inside your retail store. 

According to a Nielsen study as far back as 2016, over half of consumers are more likely to shop with a business they can message. Now that this can be done at scale through chatbots that are used in increasingly greater complexity to build relationships with customers to shorten the sales funnel. 


Conversational Marketing is about having the right conversation on the right platform and being able to easily pick up and continue that dialogue across various channels and touchpoints. An example of this is Databox, who provide a chat option as soon as you land on the site with helpful notes on where to get started. This conversation is always accessible, even if you leave and return to the site later on.

“Your conversational marketing audience is much more insightful than your other channels. They’ll tell you in their own words how they want to interact with your business. There’s no inferring or guessing, like with web traffic.”
HubSpot’s Conversational Marketing Manager Connor Cirillo

In 2021, the real movement now is away from one-size-fits-all and further towards the personalization that customers expect. Proactively catering your messages to specific actions, website pages or products and ensuring that current conversations build upon previous discussions, will lead to greater engagement, a better customer relationship, and a shorter sales funnel.

Transparency builds respect, respect builds trust

Underpinning all these trends is a more general one – the move towards a digital advertising landscape that prioritizes transparency, builds consumer trust, and maintains a two-way dialogue with ever-greater results.

Consumers now expect a personalized experience in all aspects of the customer journey and are willing to share their data to get it – but only if that business has earned their trust. Organizations need to establish that trust to capture data and permission to deploy it, providing consumers maximum control of their experience. Proposing meaningful value while capturing consented Earned Data will provide insightful and rich data sources that will help businesses thrive in uncertain times.

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