Given the choice to lead or follow, which will you do? This is a very real decision for many database marketers today. Traditionally, these folks were the geeks of the marketing department. They kept to themselves, ran queries to answer questions posed by other strategists, and worked hard to keep the data clean and updated. Today, the database marketer is part of an emerging and essential marketing operations team that is driving a lot of the strategy. One marketer said to me recently, “Whoever knows the customers best gets to make the call.” Well, I ask you, “Who knows the customer better than the people working with the data every day?” All of a sudden, database marketers are superheroes. Or at least have the opportunity to wear capes if they choose to accept the challenge.
There are two things driving this trend. One is customer habit. Given the ability and choice to interact with brands in many ways and across many channels, customers are taking full advantage. It’s a “me”-centered consumption world where customer preference and whim create habits. At the same time, marketing automation technology is advancing and data integration is possible. So marketers can track and, more importantly, react to customer behavior in order to meet needs across channels.
What sorts of strategies require deeper, strategic database insight? Pretty much everything. The list would be shorter if we counted those marketing functions that don’t benefit from data-driven decisions. Consider these important initiatives that have become imperatives for many CMOs today:
- Outlining personas representing key customer segments in order to profile audience types and improve communication messaging and cadence.
- Obtaining a 360-degree view of the customer. One B2C marketer told me this week that there are more than 25 ways that customers can interact with her brand – from a kiosk to a store counter to e-mail to mobile commerce to branded website to call center to social communities. Most customers participate in three or more of those channels. Communications can only be optimized if those habits and experiences are captured – and actionable – in the database.
- Responding to customer behavior in the channel where the interaction occurred. This also has to be aligned with self-selected preferences.
- Selecting the optimal channel for the next offer. A hotel owner uses past booking behavior to send last-minute alerts via SMS to those who have opted in and accessed the mobile commerce site. All others get the information via e-mail. Response has boosted overall by 8 percent.
- Testing and optimizing the mix of channels for lead nurturing campaigns. For a live seminar event, one B2B marketer paced the reminders and offers based on interaction with the previous e-mail campaigns. Those who did not respond got simple reminders on date, location, and keynotes. Those who did interact got more robust offers. Revenue from the offers increased 50 percent over the previous year – so that not just the response rate increased, but the revenue increased in real terms. Also, spam complaints dropped by 25 percent. This is surely because those who demonstrated a willingness to engage prior to the event were nurtured with offers that made sense to their actions, and the others were left alone.
I’m sure there are infinite variations of these opportunities. Perhaps you are testing some of them now. It will also be great to see how database marketers react to this new level of attention and interest from the C-suite. Will you embrace it and join the strategists, or will you run back to the corner and take orders?
How are you and your team embracing the need for a data-driven marketing approach? Please tell us in the comments area below.
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