Marketing to the Data Driven Customer

Customers with digital DNA expect data driven value
The digital native generation is bringing new expectations to brand relationships. They are mobile first, crowd sourced, and data savvy. Their first and most frequent interaction with your brand will be digital and mobile. They find out what’s cool, what’s trending, and what’s most likely to work best for them from their social networks. They don’t have emotional attachments to brands because the product is compelling or the advertising is cool. Their emotional engagement comes from unexpected insights that make them more successful. This is the new basis of customer loyalty, advocacy, and lifetime value.
Of course you still need a compelling product and cool ads (or messaging.) But once the prospect is a customer, continual engagement depends on over the top data driven insights. It’s no longer enough to just sell the hammers and saws and let the buyer go build their house. You need to monitor how they are using the hammer and saw. You need to deliver success by guiding their use of your product based on the behavior of your most successful customers. You need to leverage your position as the center of your customer universe to share best practices quickly and efficiently. The only way to do that at scale is through data.
Data Ownership vs Data Stewardship
In between the lines, you should be hearing a new philosophy with respect to customer data. Even though legally you “own” it, the data driven customer expects you to act as a data steward. You must treat their data as an asset to be used for their benefit, not just as the basis for driving revenue. Everything you provide to your customers should be designed to bring data back. Your customers should learn that the more data they provide, the more value they get in return – without negative side effects like having their data sold to an irrelevant ad network. Give to get and maintain the trust.
This has tremendous implications. Not only for marketers. Data marketing requires coordination with product development, IT, finance, fulfillment, point of sale, customer support, consulting services, sales. All these groups interact with customers and capture data on different aspects of their behavior – product usage, purchasing, problem resolution, planning, advocacy, etc. They all need to be understood to identify the most successful customers and the traits that drive their success. You can create tiers of services based on the level at which customer provide data. You can create cohorts of customers that exclude direct competitors. You can support exchanges within your customer ecosystem that enable strategic accounts to benefit from preferred peers. You can be extremely creative about how you structure your data marketing services.
The message is that in a world of shrinking product cycles, cheap knockoffs, and copycat services, data marketing is the new source of differentiation. No one else has the data you (should) have on how customers can be most successful with your products. Use it to attract and retain the best and leave the rest to your competitors.

To continue the conversation on data marketing and the data driven customer, contact me: gmurray (at) idc (dot) com.

Data, Marketing, and Supply-chains: Insight from the IBM Smarter Commerce Conference

Envisioning your role within a larger context opens up possibilities. “Marketing” is mostly an internal work categorization. So, why limit your vision to marketing’s traditional box? The IBM Smarter Commerce conference is unique. It isn’t really a marketing conference. Instead, marketing is placed within the context of the overall commercial supply chain – a view I support.

Customers do not readily distinguish interactions from specific company departments.  IBM says that 74% of customers regard the post-purchase experience (such as retail fulfillment, or the cost of service in technology purchases) as critical in vendor selection. What possibilities open up when marketers with this broader supply-chain vision – and access to supply-chain data – start applying these tools to modern marketing? Here are a few insights I picked up from the early experts at the IBM Smarter Commerce conference.

  • Marketing works better when delivered as a service. “Marketing should be so helpful that customers would be willing to pay for it,” said Jay Baer, event MC and author of the new book, Youtility. Baer says that your competition for attention isn’t just businesses like you but everyone! Only if you are useful will the customer keep you close. Among the interesting case studies of marketing-as-a-service highlighted at the event was insurance company USAA. USAA provides customers with an “auto circle experience“.  Although they do not sell autos, USAA offer buyers free services at each step of the car-buying process: research on cars, auto evaluation tools, and various purchasing services.  Once USAA builds trust, then they offer their for-profit insurance services. USAA’s extensive database of car ownership and usage stats directs them when to promote these services thus stimulating purchases. My take-away: Think beyond your own product and even outside of your own company. Offer services that customers will view as unexpected but delightful and highly useful.

  • Personalization must actually benefit the customer. People do want personalization and will go to some effort to get it. But people like personalization only if it benefits them. If it only benefits you or if it has unintended consequences, personalization will backfire. Big, powerful, data engines can do really horrible things to people if you aren’t careful. A major retailer explained to me how data elements have differing degrees of confidence. You will know some things for sure (maybe a person’s age), but many more things are merely estimates. This retailer used to send hyper-personalized emails (13 million variations!) But this resulted in frantic calls such as, “Did my identity get stolen? You know everything about me, but I didn’t buy this!” The combination of highly accurate data mixed with the semi-accurate can spook people. Now this retailer sends only 10 versions of their campaign.

  • Every interaction is a link within the context of a communication supply-chain. Don’t look at each discrete message, or even each campaign, as a unique event with a direct link to the end result. Marketing is not a candy machine. Instead, view each as a link in a chain of events each of which leads to other actions.  The most important data attribution task is to discover that chain– what activity in which order and through which messaging channel tends to lead to another event. For example, social media tends to drive to search rather than directly to your website.  Mobile scanning tends to drive buyers to a physical store or to a desktop purchase. 

Managing your marketing as an element in a supply-chain will not be easy. Some of the challenges include delivering on true omnichannel capability, inconsistent fulfillment of content, inconsistent service delivery, and gaining visibility across the customer interactions.  However, this vision brings you closer to the customer’s point-of-view and thus opens up more possibilities for competitive differentiation and revenue success.