Marketing data is now officially ‘unchained.’ It is available from many more channels and managed in many more systems across the marketing technology ecosystem. Getting data to the right system to identify and act at the important moments of truth for your audiences is a good thing. But unless all this data is centralized, it may also mean you have mini “marketing databases” in your email delivery solution, your demand generation and ad targeting platforms, your social management platform, your campaign management solution, your sales database, and more.
The imperative is not to let data run wild, it’s to make your data more useful. That requires more complete datasets linked to a centralized source of truth and better reach across systems so that you can do intelligent targeting and content curation.
Data paints the picture of our customer – and gives us the ability to message in a relevant and engaging way. Across all various systems, we now have and need data on:
- Who: The customer data associated to a real person, or a hashtag identifier through your data management platform (DMP), either in-house or third party, to recognize that person anonymously.
- What: The types, names and categories of products and solutions.
- Why: Marketplace and business data on market share, competition, partnerships and supply chain, revenue growth, marketing attribution and customer preference.
- How: All the channel, content, engagement and other behavioral data that provides the rationale for actions by the Who, for What products and Why.
Note that much of this includes third-party data, which is important to include for two reasons: First, because third party data helps marketers fill in the gaps about a person’s overall behavior and demographics to identify them as a ‘real person’; and second because most purchase decisions are made off the brand’s owned properties.
This wealth of customer intelligence that exists in a fragmented state across channels today is a gold mine for customer-focused brands. Advanced data management technology will provide a 360-degree view various audiences and allow marketers to identify their most valuable customers. Sometimes this 360-degree view is available through the campaign management, marketing automation or segmentation engine ‘hub’ of your mar-tech stack, but often it’s a dashboard overlay on the central marketing database.
If you don’t currently have such a system in place, you’re not alone: According to a recent Regalix study, two-thirds of marketers spend less than 10 percent of their budgets to marketing automation.
Doing this kind of data-driven marketing for every customer is great, but it’s really important for your high-value customers. Though most brands have visibility into their best sales channel or even product, few have understanding of their best or most valuable customers.
The definition of a high-value customer has typically been myopically tied to transaction value. Many brands now are realizing that high-value customers exist on a variety of dimensions aside from revenue, including frequency, demographics, geography, and even evangelism. Three cautions:
- Many high-value customers are influencers who may not spend a lot with the brand regularly but provide incredible promotional outreach, often via social channels.
- Brands often erode their margins by offering discounts to customers who shop regularly. Often, by adding value to the experience (complimentary gift wrapping, valet parking, pre sales alerts, loyalty points), brands can thank and celebrate loyal customers without pressuring revenue.
- Some people just need more proof or more time before they become digitally engaged. Even actively digital people may wait to provide their data to a brand with whom they are only newly acquainted. Embrace those people anyway and have alternate, offline methods for reaching them.
Some very real and meaningful opportunities emerge from have a centralized, segmented database and the identification of your most valued customers:
- Content is the reason why people engage with brands, so it’s also important to have the analytics in place to understand why, when and for what purpose these people are engaging. Buyers duck in an out of customer journey paths, and engage in outside activity. Inactivity may mean many things, and lack of interest is only one of them.
- Many times, high value customer personas add richer dimension to your understanding of the customer needs and motivations. This will assist in improving the experience for these customers, and help uncover significant new, untapped markets as you locate gaps in product/service offerings or purchase behavior.
- The travel industry, banking, and now healthcare have all found out that empowering customers by giving them more access to data is inevitable. If your company isn’t following this evolution, someone else will, whether it’s a direct competitor or a disrupter from another sector.
Successful companies are embracing advanced consumer management technology to do all this across all their marketing and sales functions including CRM, e-commerce, and marketing automation systems to gain a holistic, multidimensional understanding of customers. How are you centralizing your data sources and systems to improve customer experience? Please comment below or suggest ideas for further exploration in another column.
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