Investment in data and analytics is continuing to gain momentum among marketers. While some are at the early stages of gaining access to workable customer data, many are at the next stage, testing effectiveness of different targeting and automation approaches.

The technology for brands to engage with potentials customers is out there. It’s now down to them to use it and use it to its full potential. Automation and nascent mechanics, such as mobile push messaging, and increasing media exposure are creating more and more opportunities which are there for the taking. To help unlock these opportunities, companies across the board have been investing heavily in capturing, storing and using customer data, and more plan to do so. In fact, our research found that 90% plan to increase spending in this area in the next three years.

Gaining a clear customer view

Despite the hype around behavioural datasets, most targeting today is based on demographics and purchase history. This is mainly driven by the fact that most companies are still struggling with the basics of capturing and analysing more and richer data. Most still only have a partial view of their customers and much of the data captured is still only partially usable. Very few really understand the additional data variables that can move the dial in terms of response rates.

Leaders in this area have a clear view of the outcomes that will be most business critical, whether that be improving conversion rates or driving cross-sell. Once this focused set of aims has been identified, they ask what is the most relevant data to help understand customers, identify potential trigger points and target those trigger points. Using third parties to get the analysis-insight-action process running, and developing in-house capabilities around that for the long-term is key to creating competitive advantage through data.

Continuing to cut through

However, as automation and targeting increases, achieving effective cut through is more difficult than ever. One of the biggest challenges that marketers face is differentiating themselves in an ever-busier environment. Even those companies at the leading edge of digital marketing are still in an experimental stage with how to intervene. Most have focused efforts on getting to a point where targeted, personalised engagement is even possible. Few know how effective interventions can be, or how to effectively engage consumers in this context – although test-and-iterate approaches mean that a growing number will be measuring responses obsessively in coming years.

Only 17% of companies are currently using personalisation extensively in their proposition and communications today, while 60% are planning to increase or significantly increase their investment in this area in the coming year.

Personalisation and targeting of content, proposition and communications has the potential to dramatically enhance effectiveness. However, it’s currently being executed poorly. We can see this in the clutter of marketing messages in the typical email inbox, and the growing stream of unsolicited push messages that a smartphone user sees.

Rather than mindless deployment of emails and push messages, marketers need to put themselves in the shoes of the consumer and consider the context of their interactions with them. Getting this access in the right context can increase consumers’ propensity to respond significantly, and even create new purchasing trigger points.

Engagement over interruption

The ultimate aim for marketers is to provide genuinely engaging content, rather than interrupt or cause annoyance. This is a difficult balance to strike, but by following a simple thought process, marketers can get off on the right footing.

Most products and services have ‘natural’ trigger points. Marketers need to think about what their potential customers are doing at or around these points, and how they can seamlessly and effectively insert themselves into those situations. It’s important to consider what kind of interaction potential customers will respond best to, and go one step further to think how they can trigger more demand.


By Colin Grieves, managing director at Experian

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