The battle for the consumer’s share of mind and wallet gets more complex every day. And to win, companies are looking to transform their marketing in big ways, armed with a multitude of available data and modern toolsets. All too often, though, the vision is not supported with the technology, mindset and organizational design to fully engage in a people-based marketing strategy.
Further, given the availability of new marketing channels (addressable TV, messaging apps and so on), we need to think beyond customary tactics. And this transformation starts with laying the right foundation; shifting your focus from channel to audience; and layering in the right technology.
The ultimate goals of increased revenue and earnings per share can only be achieved after the necessary groundwork has been laid. In short, you need to invest money to make money. That investment should be targeted in three main areas:
Collecting the data. You’re aiming for a 360-degree view of the customer. People say that as if it’s easy. It’s not; but it is a foundational component of any serious marketing capability.
You need to know who you are talking to, especially if you believe that marketing to existing customers is important. I have been lucky enough to work at companies that understand this, but I still see brands that have not yet invested in this fundamental capability.
Once you have the essentials, such as name, address, email and demographics, you can add on more information — either through data appends, connecting anonymous and known IDs on owned properties, or simply asking the customer. Transactional details (purchase dates, categories and so on) need to be available as well. Those are the basics. Seriously. You can do marketing without it, but you’d be missing the boat.
Analyzing the data. Establishing a baseline of data is only the start. Now you have to do something with it: analytics for measuring and informing decisions around marketing communications, product research, customer service and more. A database without analytics is just ones and zeros.
Making the data accessible. Subject to governance policies, the appropriate applications need to be able to access it. Fast. Whether it is your website, your enterprise decisioning system, your customer service applications, your email program or your messaging apps, it’s critical that all of your marketing channels have access to your data so that consistent decisions can be made across those channels.
Now that the foundation is laid, you can move toward using the data. An adage says that with two kids, you can run a man-on-man defense, but when you have three, you have to switch to a zone defense. The same is true with marketing at scale. If you have a single customer type and just one or two paths to purchase, you can create customer journeys and map out the experience from end to end.
But the reality is that few (zero?) companies have that customer base. We have customers who may purchase one way one day (direct to site, no research, just click and buy) and a different way the next (purchasing a gift where they compare multiple products on different sites and abandon a cart to return for a purchase later). This calls for the zone defense that’s “channel-agnostic.” That means you focus on the main priorities:
Message anywhere. We are no longer constrained by using direct mail, email, SMS and push for direct marketing. We can market to known customers and prospects on social and display, in addition to more traditional direct channels. Who knows what will be next?
No longer are we constrained to top-performing deciles for direct marketing or limited to emailing “active” people. We can move between channels with relative ease.