Marie Myles, Director of Consulting, Experian Marketing Services
The introduction of the digital age has brought a number of new and exciting channels to the communications mix and opened up a wealth of opportunities for marketers, however it has also created some significant challenges.
We have come a long way since Charles Booth created the London Poverty maps in 1888 using no technology - just by walking the street – to classify inner city Londoners as those who had and those who had not, in order to provide better services!
Skip forward fifty years and the advent of television brought advertising to the masses, segmented by what people were watching and what region they were in. Move forward another fifty years or more and the BBC claimed in a recent article that 2007 was the year that the world went digital! A recent survey by the Scientific Journal calls this transition to the digital age, ‘the information revolution’.
This information revolution means that communications can no longer afford to be broad and untargeted. The new world, powered by technology, provides marketers with far more information at their finger tips to more effectively communicate with individuals and become more targeted.
The Customer is now closer to you. They tell you what they like and dislike. They recommend products to their friends and in real time you can track and interact with what is happening.
Sir Martin Sorrel, one of the UK’s leading businessmen, highlighted that ‘the strongest companies on the internet’ are no longer ‘the ones with the most visitor traffic’, ‘today the power resides with those that have the richest data and are savviest about using it’ (Wall Street Journal, August 2010).
With the ever increasing capabilities of technology and growth in the application of data, it’s no longer enough just to have a sizable audience; you now need to know what to do with that audience. Who they are, what they want and how to connect with them is paramount to giving customers a good customer experience at every touchpoint.
A successful data-driven marketing strategy should be underpinned by three guiding principles:
- Think about the entire customer journey
- Enable data integration through linkage and a SCV
- Create a common currency for your business
In essence the adoption of a data driven marketing strategy is all about putting the customer – rather than the event or the product – at the heart of your marketing planning. Defining customer experiences and journeys backed by customer centric data are the building blocks of an effective customer marketing plan.
Traditionally, marketers think in silos. So you will have acquisition or retention; online or offline. We aren’t going to be able to change internal structures overnight but that doesn’t mean we need to think about the customer experience or journey in a fragmented way too. It’s so important to think about not just the acquisition phase of a journey but also what happens once that customer registers on the website or makes a purchase. This is because the decisions you make around things like data capture, product offering or messaging can influence how you treat that customer later in the journey. So if you acquired a customer on Mumsnet for example, should you be cross-selling products to that customer through retargeting on that site and how does that dovetail with cross-sell messages on your own site for that customer?
All of this data needs to be collected, stored and analysed in the most efficient way possible and if you have not considered these things from the outset, then it will be difficult to introduce later. Not impossible, but at increased cost and importantly delivering a less coherent customer experience.
The hook that brings this all together is data linkage – creating a single customer view has to form the basis of a customer centric strategy. This can be through a range of keys and business rules including name, address, email address, mobile number, login ids and cookies.
And finally when we talk about a common currency, by this we mean that organisations should have at least one segmentation set that consistently underpins their whole business.
- The key is to have a common framework which underpins all segments (e.g. Mosaic UK)
- Enhance these segments with data linked to your KPIs, e.g. search data, instore purchasing data, or social media data
- Use this data to deploy consistent targeting and messaging across on and offline channels
- And apply this approach to both acquisition and retention strategies
There is a bigger picture here too– future trends and developments. In a multi-channel world, it will become increasingly difficult for marketers to control how their brand is perceived and in my view, rather than trying to control every aspect, you need some core principles that drive your customer journey and experiences, regardless of channel or environment.
Finally there are six key steps that an organisation should consider when thinking about the entire customer journey:
- Understand what data is available and assess whether this rich information is being used effectively
For instance transactional data, on and offline conversion data, web analytics data, mobile metrics, email metrics, search data, call centre data and social data
- Decide what needs to be achieved at key points in the customer journey
Identify the drivers of value for the business and the key performance indicators, and implement this KPI measurement across all channels.
- Decide what data to retain and what to ditch
One of the biggest challenges facing marketers is the sheer volume of data now available and the vast number of different software tools there are out there to access and interpret it. Decide which behavioural data best sits in operational platforms for real or near real time management and which data needs to be managed at a customer level
- Use tools that aid a seamless customer journey
Use segments that can be applied to online and offline activity and to the population as a whole, as well as web analytics tools. Also, conduct pre and post-campaign analysis and take advantage of competitive insight and intelligence.
- Get the right team in place.
Resource and budget are always cited as the biggest challenge to development of a strong multi-channel approach, however don’t let this let this hold back business growth. Businesses own the data, now they can own the insight. Analytical capability is key, but interpretation is everything. Organisations should use consultants and contractors where they can add value or support any resource issues. External resource can be a useful way of overcoming the silo issue. An external project manager or consultant can work across all silos and work with different teams to pull the journey together without the need for major internal reorganisation.
- Regularly review and measure usefulness of their data.
For instance are the KPIs still the drivers of value? Which data is driving the greatest value? Which is driving the least? Sense-check – is the right data being collected from customers and prospects? Is the segmentation strategy still delivering?
About the author
Director of Consulting
Experian Marketing Services
Marie has a wealth of client and agency experience in delivering data and insight driven actions and business benefits. She is a senior marketer with over 12 years experience managing and delivering large scale sales and marketing plans in the utilities and telecommunications sectors.
This is backed by over 7 years agency and supplier side experience, ranging from a Senior Planner in a direct marketing agency to leading a consultancy team in the analytics sector. Marie backs these marketing credentials with a strong commercial background and qualifications ranging from a degree in Economics to diplomas from the CIM and IDM.