People-based marketing – What is it and how did we get here?

Isn’t all marketing ‘people-based marketing?’

‘People-based marketing’. It’s a really nice sounding phrase – one that we’re hearing more and more in marketing circles.

It’s a bit of a buzzword.

It seems to mean ‘marketing that’s about people’. Customer centricity? Makes sense.

However, the implication that marketing was ever not about people is mildly disconcerting. How have we got to a point where it’s new and revolutionary to consider the ‘things’ we serve messages to are something new, something called people?

It’s the online environment that’s to blame yet it has been quite unavoidable.

Historically marketing was about how to talk to your customers. The smallest little SME or shop had this so-called ‘people marketing’ nailed. Know your customers and speak to them about what they’re interested in. But when we stepped into the digital world we strayed further from that path – especially for larger organisations with thousands of contacts.

The challenge is that Cookies and device IDs are there to enable the provision of content (where advertising is also content) – they’re not there to help us truly understand ‘people’.

The gap stems from the conflicting requirements of online media consumption. One of the key rules every digital marketer has had drummed into them is to not make it hard for consumers (people) to access a website. This can include asking for login data and personal information unnecessarily. Nothing’s more likely to scare someone off, or annoy them.

But when you consider the implications of privacy, and the need for consent (and a 100% necessary and reasonable requirement it is too), we start to see the root of the problem. A gap between the person and the afore-mentioned device/cookie.

An evolving marketplace

The proliferation of devices and the desire to engage with brands via those devices means the ability to do the thing media and marketers want to do well (sell more of their stuff and prove it works) has got harder. Harder because it’s more difficult to join everything up – people aren’t logging in and they’re using different devices.

The data. It always starts with the data. The complexity, robustness and comprehensiveness of the data used is key. You need to have all round views of who your customers are and what they’re likely to do. It’s a bit of a clichéd example but it still holds true that just because I’m looking at a sports car website it doesn’t mean I’m in the market for a sports car.

The same is true in the finance sector where you don’t want to be sending messages about credit cards to people who are not going to be eligible for them. Not only will it impact your marketing performance but as a responsible lender you need to think about the customer. How will they feel if they click through and are rejected? How will it affect their view of your brand and also what impact could it have on their credit rating? What sort of role are you playing in that scenario?

The speed of tech development has put many marketers in a position where we’re guessing as to who we might be messaging. And that’s not a great thing to be doing…

people-based marketing

Marketers need to be able to pull all touchpoints together to create views of their customers as people.

Data Linkage leads to true people-based marketing

In order to get to ‘people-based marketing’ we need to be able to consider individuals as people. We need to draw all those touchpoints together and this is where we see the need for a common marketing currency. People are more than the individual touchpoints. They’re not even just a number of touchpoints collated together. People have much more about them than what you are able to gather through your channels – regardless how well aligned those channels are.

Marketers, with that in mind, have to build an audience that can be targeted and measured regardless of channel.

Experian Marketing Services is the leading global provider of consumer insights, data quality and cross-channel marketing. We help organisations intelligently interact with today’s empowered and hyper-connected consumers.

By helping marketers identify best customers, find more, and then coordinate seamless and intelligent interactions across the most appropriate channels, Experian Marketing Services can deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.