Customers are now presented with the ability to choose the level of personal interaction they expect from a company. Customers have an expectation that if you offer those choices, and they choose to use them, that you will be able to provide them with an experience that is personal, relevant, and seamless. If that experience feels disconnected, today’s customers may not be patient enough to wait for that experience. Customers and business alike have the information to interact in intimate ways, yet the ability to appropriately use this information is lacking. Research has shown that companies who have overcome the barriers to making that happen have experienced significant increases in sales and customer loyalty.
We have all had the experience of calling our favorite broadband provider who doesn’t seem to be able to answer any questions about the other services that we subscribe to from the same company. It is frustrating. On the other hand, the challenges can be daunting. How can insights be gained from the information available? How can the technologies be more integrated? How can online and offline engagements with prospects be more automated? The technology to integrate email marketing, content management systems, and marketing tools exists, but very few companies are actually leveraging it.
The key is answering those questions lies in the ability to capture the right information, analyze it to derive insights, and potentially modify business processes to make it all come together. Although that may appear to be an overwhelming challenge, taking it on in steps can ultimately help overcome the technical and organizational barriers.
Capture the Right Information
The first step is to establish a metrics strategy that aligns sales and marketing with overall business goals. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) need to be defined. Tracking codes need to be established to help determine performance against those KPIs. Determining where additional tracking is needed can help identify where the gaps are in the current measurement plan.
Deriving insights from customer data requires the right analytical skills. Clustering and data association techniques can be used to determine deep customer segments. That analysis can answer questions such as whether or not there is a customer segment that will spend regardless of price or incentive. For example, the existence of such a segment implies less of a need to send direct mail promotions.
Defining conceptual predictive models will help define strategic recommendations. Statistical modeling is needed to unearth insights from the data. In other words, investment in a data analyst is needed. Such skills and models provide the right tools to help establish the insights.
Connect Your Systems
Where it is possible, disparate systems can and should be connected. Mechanisms to uniquely identify users and pull data from the disconnected systems (i.e., a data warehouse) need to be established. While this step could require investment and time, it is critical to being able to derive relevant and timely offers. Start small by demonstrating that two or three systems can be connected with current measurement capabilities. Apply the tools that are available, whether that is a customer journey map that identifies the primary customer segments or industry facets, to derive insights based on the data collected from the connected systems.
Once the segment behavior is understood and data insights are established, offers can start to be generated to match the behavior for each segment. With the data collection capabilities at work, the ability to understand how customers react to offers and rewards is established. Based on that understanding, offers can be adjusted accordingly and new, more effective campaigns can be created. Insights are also gained on the type of rewards – point, coupons, or perhaps a higher level of service – that are most appropriate for your customers and how they react to them. It’s one thing to provide rewards in the form of free items or points, but it is far more powerful to be able to determine how customers behave once they redeem their reward.
Modify Your Strategies
Media insights, driven by channel performance, can drive creative strategies. Frequency caps can be adjusted and tuned. More specific campaigns targeted to specific demographics can be created.
Customer insights can be used to tailor experiences to specific personas. New keywords can be identified to reach targeted audiences. Offers can be made on specific behavior (e.g., returning to a product detail page a second or third time).
Once the initial capability is established, other applications that provide information on customer behavior can be integrated. Additional facets will yield deeper insights and recommendations based on a richer customer profile.
Over time, you will create the ability to anticipate the needs of your customers rather than react to them. And you will be able to support their experiences regardless of how they choose to interact with you. It’s time to start meeting that expectation.