Customers are people. So it follows that in many ways relationships with your customers are like the other relationships in your life. How can you take them to the next level? Put another way, data-driven marketing is like dating; and if everyone treated it that way, they would be more successful.

Think about it. With the information available to marketers in our super-connected world, we have the power to deliver an engaging, relevant customer experience. And while today it seems like almost everyone is doing it, not everyone is doing it well.

We hold in our hands the keys to getting better results with a genuine data-driven approach to communications and, of course, the chance to get it wrong. Like dating, data is a very sensitive thing. And, just as with other relationships, when misused, these very same bits and bytes can work against you.

Here are five relationship lessons to take your marketing to the next level:

  1. No Reply Means No. Consider this example as a cautionary tale: Once I used a popular online ordering service to get delivery from a Chinese restaurant. Little did I know that this single transaction would dictate the terms of my relationship with that service. Now, I am continually offered the chance to repeat service from this same place. It’s slick because I can “repeat my last order.” But, I don’t. Because I don’t want to, and it was truly an isolated incident. To me, the fact that they haven’t taken my “no reply” as a pretty big hint reflects poorly and doesn’t make them look smart. Now, think about this in “people terms.” Would you ask the same question over and over and expect a different answer in a relationship? I hope not. This over rotating to a single piece of information can become the undoing of a prospective relationship and yet, most digital disruptor brands struggle with this fine line. They think they have the context, but they don’t. Having said that, past behavior is truly the one of the most predictive assets.In this case, the most significant aspect of my transaction was probably that it was my first. Firsts are the best. Each is its own mini-beginning for a potential relationship. To treat it as a trend is a blown opportunity. There will never be another “first time” to act upon with a tailored welcome series to facilitate traction.
  2.  Showcase Your Personality. One can aptly describe “brand” in a single word: “personality.” In your most successful relationships, you are appreciated for who you are. In turn, brands who have a special connection with their customers based on their personality are at an advantage. A great example of this is Warby Parker. Everything it does is within the context of its voice and it can make the simplest things sharper. A year after my most recent purchase of Warbys, I got an email wishing a “happy birthday” to my frames. Genius! They took the simplest most basic information, wrapped their personality around it and made a personal connection with me. Their light and personal touch to handling it transformed the experience.
  3. Get Closer (Without Coming on Too Strong). Think about your dating life. Walking that balance of the right level of communication is crucial–is it too soon to text? Is a phone call too much? Ultimately, you want your communication to bring you closer, but you don’t want to overdo it. We have a client that can (and does) measure and determine the level of its customers’s product savvy to a strong degree of certainty.

    It’s within a B-to-B environment, and the messages and advice it delivers based on usage is considerable. We’ve established a newsletter format for them with variable tiles for tailored content. What works so well about this solution is its elegance. You only see what fits your specific needs, but all customers are treated equally in terms of cadence. Because we’re saying what matters to them only, it’s super-efficient and effective.

  4. You Won’t Get Points for Trying. The reality is, getting data wrong is worse than a generic correctly executed approach. No one is going to give you points for trying. How many times have you received a personalized email using your first name in the subject headline or content? Now, how many times have you opened that message or acted on that content? Never? Well, you are not alone.

    Without a 360-degree holistic view of the customer you will never get the true personal connection. Traditional companies most often have this problem because of their multiple customer databases through their retail stores, online, credit cards. All this data can get in the way of a clean view of each individual.

  5. If You Don’t Know, Ask! Finding the right nugget to bring you closer to a customer can be a challenge, and if you and your marketing teams haven’t figured out a recipe for success, remember that surveys can be your friend. Many marketers have had great success with this approach. Overcomplicating is the risk here, so be sure to keep it simple and consider providing small rewards for participation. It’s like taking your date out for coffee.

In the end, you will be pleasantly surprised—people will usually be ready and willing to answer a few questions. The key is to thoughtfully design the questions and tailor your communication plan. That way, the data you capture will be acted upon, useful and valuable to both you and your customers. It’s dating the right way.

This article was originally found on Media Post.