With the economy showing signs of improvement and consumer spending rising, brands will have to do more to stand out, if they are to provide customers with the experience and information they really want, when they want it.

This, of course, impacts on marketing departments. Consumers won’t accept a general one size fits all approach. They want information pertinent to them. To do this, marketers need to use data better.

Data data everywhere

First off, if you don’t have it then you can’t use it. Start thinking about the customer journey and exactly which data touchpoints they come across when in contact with your brand. There are the obvious EPOS, booking system, mobile, email etc, but if you undertake the customer journey yourself then you might unearth a few more.

For example, a hospitality brand we work with realised that there was a 15-20 minute window to collect customer details when diners were waiting for their meals. How many of you play with your phones instead of making conversation while waiting for food? By adding calls to action to the menus, this brand was able to secure new sign ups and get them to instantly set their communications preferences. The result? Increased frequency of visit and increased spend per visit.

Channel choice

Nina Bibby, marketing and consumer director at O2 recently said there are 50 million smartphone users in the UK, checking their phones on average 150 times per day. In addition there are now eight billion Facebook video views per day. Quick, someone send an email and make a video, said no marketer in 2016 ever (hopefully).

What if you’re marketing to a demographic that has very low smartphone usage? Consumer interfaces might have changed but the consumers themselves haven’t. At the most basic level are your customers single, part of a family, part of a couple or elderly? This is segmentation 101 and direct marketing was built on it. It holds true. At its core if you don’t have a single customer view then you’re only ever going to be ‘best guess’ marketing, making assumptions on channels and the times your customers use them. This seems obvious but it’s something we come across a lot, especially in bigger organisations with disparate brands. They’re all keen to deliver a personalised timely experience because responding to a customer’s needs is less effective than proactively addressing them.

Data sets

If you have a stellar single customer view then start experimenting by overlaying additional data sets to gather more intelligence on customer behaviour. For example, if you look at six months’ worth of customer sales records and overlay weather data, then can you spot trends? Do sunny days attract more customers? Does colder weather encourage particular product purchase? Yes, all businesses have seasonal peaks and troughs, but clever use of supplementary data sets could result in additional sales even during traditionally slow periods.

Timely resolutions

Take a good look at your marketing platform – is the 360 degree view of your customers
designed to support automated marketing? It’s no good running a selection for an email campaign three weeks away if the data will be out of date in 48 hours. We recently helped Skipton Building Society solve this very problem and reduced the time it took them to develop and deliver bespoke, cross-channel marketing campaigns from 17 days to just two.

Then think about mobile. This year will be driven by mobile and customers will increasingly expect instant interaction after payment and real time rewards. We’ll also see an increase in social-driven behaviour. For example, customers should have the option to share offers they’ve redeemed with their social networks, which will give others the option to make use of the promotion as well.

It is clear that the companies who will come out on top in 2016 will be those that have invested in customer data segmentation, to deliver customer centric marketing. This may seem obvious, but as new marketing technologies crop up every day and ‘thought leaders’ shout from the rooftops about the latest omni-channel techniques, it’s easy to get lost in the maelstrom. Hold tight – if you want to improve your customer experiences and revenues, then focus on the data, everything else is a distraction.


Luke Pigott, CEO and founder of data marketing agency Celerity


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