Too busy thinking about Marketing to think about Data?

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This is an attitude that is doomed to failure in our modern, competitive world of marketing. By failing to integrate your data into your marketing strategy, you risk an array of adverse issues:

  • Wasting a valuable business asset – Many companies are beginning to realise that the customer and prospect information they hold has a tangible market value. This can be considered an intangible asset; often considered between 20% and 80% of a company’s total worth. Not taking advantage of this valuable asset is not just a huge waste, but could put you at a disadvantage against your competitors.
  • The inability to recognise and understand successes or failures – If your data is not correctly managed, you may not possess the ability to analyse your marketing campaigns or other aspects of your business. If you are unable to determine which areas of your strategy are performing best, you are likely to repeat previous failures or to miss business opportunities.
  • Wasting marketing budget – Data analytics and modelling can help you to target the customers most likely to respond to your different communications. Marketing to unresponsive customers can be a waste of marketing budget – this money could be better spent on additional, targeted campaigns.
  • Contradictory reporting – Companies often have many disparate data sources in separate silos, and depending on which of those are queried, you can often receive contradictory results.
  • Alienating customers by not recognising them – To keep your customers engaged, you need to communicate with them as individuals. Without the systems and expertise to analyse and interpret your customer data, you will not be able to understand who your customers are. If you don’t have this kind of understanding you cannot:
    - Target the correct prospects – i.e. those most like your current best customers;
    - Understand the motivations of your customers in order to plan the tone of your messages and targeting of marketing activities;
    - Personalise your communications, e.g. with customer name or with information based on their previous purchases etc.

A Single Version of the Truth

The first step on the path to maximising the value of your data is to bring it together into one unified, holistic view or a Single Customer View. Your customers should always be at the centre of your strategy, so it makes sense to structure your data around them. You should bring together potentially disconnected data sources and link everything back to the relevant individual customer. Data sources may include:

  • Transactions and purchase history across each area of your business;
  • Communications history from each channel: DM, Email, etc;
  • Response information, such as voucher redemptions, email opens and clicks;
  • Website logins and browsing data;
  • Demographics, such as age, gender, address data, etc;
  • Surveys, questionnaires and preference data;
  • And anything else you can collect…

As your customers’ engagement increases over time, you will build a more complete picture of their motivations and behaviour. This will allow you to segment your customer base, target campaigns more effectively, and ultimately drive loyalty and advocacy.

Pulling together your data to create a single customer view is an aim shared by many businesses, but projects often fail or are never completed. To make sure these projects are successful there are 5 key stages that have to be completed:

1. Scoping – This is probably the most important stage. Without a thorough scoping, you can never be sure that everyone’s requirements will be understood, let alone delivered in the final system. This could result in the end product having to be re-engineered or future projects required to extend the functionality.

2. Design – The design should include a Functional Specification which will make it clear to all parties exactly what the solution will deliver.

3. Implementation – Actually implementing the solution must be project-managed, so that key goals and timings are achieved, and all parties are kept up to date on the project’s progress.

4. End-to-End Testing and UAT – It is vital that the final solution is tested against every point in the Functional Specification. Testing should be conducted throughout the implementation, to minimise the time required for any bug fixes. It is still essential, however, to undertake a full end-to-end test of the complete solution. User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is the final stage, to make sure the end user requirements have been met, and that the system performs as expected.

5. Delivery, Training and Documentation – once the final solution has been delivered, documentation should be provided along with comprehensive training, to make sure everyone involved can get the most out of the system.

The Four Rs: Right Customer, Right Message, Right Time, Right Channel

Combining your new unified view of every customer with a multi-channel marketing solution, you can start to engage with your customers on a 1-to-1 basis with truly personalised and targeted communications.

A Marketing Automation System can help you plan a customer journey and make sure the Right Customers are receiving the Right Messages at the Right Time via the Right Channel.

Once you understand your customers, you can plan the most appropriate messages and offers to send. You can ensure you are communicating with customers via the most effective channel (email, DM, etc.), and at the most appropriate time (for them). Channel preference and timing can vary from customer to customer, but a Single Customer View combined with Marketing Automation, will give you the data and tools required to make these decisions on an individual basis.

  • How do you currently target your communications?
  • Do you take advantage of your data assets?
  • Have you successfully implemented a Single Customer View?