The Power of Data – the difficulty of understanding the modern customer and how brands can do it

The below video was created in partnership with The Drum. Click here for part two.

It’s no secret that the way people engage with brands has changed significantly over the past 5-10 years.

This can be put down, in the main, to the proliferation of devices capable of exchanging data and interacting, including multiple smart phones per individual, smart TVs and tablets.

Because of this people are consuming far greater volumes of content in more places and at a wider variety of times.

In response, the nature of content has diversified. Look around on a bus or in a coffee shop. How many people are looking at emails, browsing the web, watching YouTube, checking out apps and flicking through social media?

What this means is the control now lies with the consumer rather than the brand.  They have more control over what they see, when they see it and how they see it. The expectation is that brands communicate how and where consumers want them to.

This creates issues for marketers by providing a huge range of choice on how best to get their messages out there and how best to reach the individuals they want to engage.

Where should marketers start?

The customer journey is so flexible. Online, offline, social media and search are just some of the potential touchpoints a brand can have with a customer. How do marketers get a handle on that?

[Check out our white paper on Contextual Marketing for more on this)

We know from our own research that 89% of brands are finding it difficult to create a Single Customer View. This is indicative of the challenges we face. Putting the customer first is critical and to do that we need to really develop a deep understanding of who that customer is, before we even get started.

Marketers need to know how customers engage on different devices and have a joined up view on how they are engaging with the brand.

What are they like? Are they a customer? Are they a prospect? What have they bought from you and what are they interested in?  – These are all questions that need to be answered.

What marketers need to appreciate is that the ability to create and deliver cross-device profiles and the understanding of how consumers are using devices and which devices they are using is entirely doable today.

The value of data?

The way organisations perceive the value of data is certainly changing. 79% of businesses believe that customer data will be driving all sales decisions by 2020 and 84% of those brands say that data is central to the development of their business strategy.

With the focus now fully on the consumers, brands need to realise that the sharing of data is critical to success. What this means is the eradication of silos within organisations. Consumers don’t think in channels so business cannot afford to.

Everybody has to be working towards a common goal, KPIs need to be aligned and teams need to work effectively together. They need to think as one and act as one.

If data is entrenched within a business it needs to reside on a single one-stop-shot platform. However for that to work a Single Customer View is imperative.  It has to be built around what the brand’s goals are.

A single, integrated system needs to ingest data from multiple sources and link to multiple sources.

Investing in technology is a difficult enough task. Whatever you spend your money on needs to work for you today. It needs to be able to help you achieve you immediate and short-term goals. However, always remember to have an eye on the future.

Consider programmatic advertising, addressable TV and the Internet of Things. They’re on the horizon and in many respects they’re here with us today.

So make sure your technology serves you today and tomorrow.

Experian Marketing Services helps bring brands and customers closer together.  Using our own industry data and analytical expertise we can help businesses build up an accurate and actionable understanding of their customers and using the Experian Marketing Suite technology, accurately engage with them.