The creepiness of web cookies was enough to scare off Big Tech (mostly). Invasive data collection and ad targeting aren’t only the height of annoyance, but they also carry fraud risk.
To put it bluntly, special offers and discounts need to make better choices. That’s data’s job.
Sometimes it takes are a caring team to break this news and present more palatable options.
“It’s very rare that I speak with a friend, a family member, any individual and they say, ‘Oh my gosh, I love it when I look at a product online and then I pop onto my phone to read the news and there’s the product following me.’ What we decided to do was flip the script,” he said.
That involves parting ways with spray-and-pray email and direct snail-mail campaigns based on data from who knows where — and the often-intolerable process of applying for such offers.
“What we found was the last mile of that experience — actually applying or verifying your eligibility — was slow, painful and full of fraud,” Weatherly said.
With his wife a teacher and his dad a military veteran, Weatherly saw the junky “deals” pouring in and seized the opportunity to improve how retailers and brands create promotions for individuals and affinity groups, using seamless verification to get good offers to real people.
“We’re connected live to authoritative data in order for an individual to raise her hand and say, ‘I’m a student at this university,’” he said. “What’s the fastest way to check and the best way to remove friction? An [application programming interface] call to the enrollment database at that university.”
“We do that with military service members, medical professionals, first responders, teachers, students, professionals, people with professional licenses, the list goes on and on.”
Zero-Party Data and Identity Marketing
Pointing to huge differences between identification, credentialing and proofing, he described identity as “an interesting mix of ingredients that’s totally unique to each and every one of us, stirred in a pot that make us up.”
Illustrating the point he said, “I’m a father of twins. That’s an interesting characteristic about me. When it was time to buy car seats — plural – and strollers — plural — I was probably a little bit of more valuable potential customer than people with an individual child.”
That’s the root of “invited personalization” where unique identity characteristics cause consumers to think offers ought to be timelier and more relevant, and they can be.
To power that, the SheerID platform pulls from its own identity marketing program data and asks for just enough information to verify without causing the shopper any exasperation.
By relying on “zero-party data” generated by the consumers applying for offers rather than third-party sources, issues of data privacy and consumer experience are well managed.
This data strategy is still not a guarantee of total safety, as fraud never sleeps.
Noting the volume of data being stolen and the quantity of fraud occurring he said, “What we’re seeing is this rise in society, and it’s not just the U.S. or North America, it’s global, where people are saying I want to know what information you’re gathering about me, or I want to not let you gather information about me without my express consent.”
Conversely, “The idea of being able to invite a relationship with a brand based on something that is unique about yourself, and to be recognized, honored, thanked, is really powerful.”
Don’t Underthink It
With clients that run the gamut from the PGA Tour to brands like Nike, SheerID’s focus on “gated offers and experiences to high-value customers” is gaining some serious traction.
“A discount, special pricing, that’s important,” he said. “People are a lot more digitally savvy and are looking for the best deals.”
It’s working well, as it must, to succeed where traditional offers are failing.
“If you’re going to open a program like this and say, ‘military service members and dependents, we thank you for your service and we want to give you the red-carpet experience’ it had better work,” Weatherly said.
“What we found, especially in the earlier days, is companies would launch programs like this and then the application experience was like six weeks of waiting, making telephone calls and sending emails. ‘What’s my status. Have you verified my status?’”
Instead, he feels offers and the platforms they run on should be as reliable as a light switch.
“SheerID and the software platform that we’ve built is similar to a utility. It should be open, available, and accessible by all, and it can’t go down,” he said.
Often used as a white-label service running in the background, SheerID benefits from being deeply embedded into the promotion and sales flow, he said, adding, “It’s actually similar to payment processing, but what we’re processing is eligibility.”