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Three Ingredients You Need to Make Your Marketing More Customer-Centric

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It's time for a test, specifically a commerce exam focused on your greatest asset, the customer.

Here is some background...

Customer X is a longtime customer who plans to maintain his loyalty but has some reasonable demands that must be met for him to stay loyal to your company.

He wants your business to get to know him better.

Now with that as background, can you answer the following questions?

  1. Do you know where Customer X lives (what region and city)?
  2. Is he a satisfied client, a raving fan, or likely to switch to a competitor when the opportunity presents itself? How influential is he and will his actions have an amplified impact on other customers?
  3. Does he shop on his smartphone or prefer to research items on his mobile device and close the deal in the store? If the latter, which store does he frequent and when?
  4. Do you have a single view into what products he has bought, those which he has browsed for, and the ability to then use this data to determine what is he likely to buy in the future? If yes, can you present him with personalized deals at the right time and place?
  5. What if he abandoned the cart? Do you know why and can you re-engage him to finish the transaction?

The brand-customer relationship has changed from a one-way conversation to a two-way street, with shoppers revealing personal details at a depth we have never seen before. The onus is now on brands to respond, but the response cannot be generic. Brands need to turn this valuable data into customized experiences and services consistent, occurring at the exact right time and place.

Though it's likely that many will view this as a challenge, it really presents a huge opportunity to "wow" the customer like never before.

However, to succeed, marketers will need all the right elements in place to get data-driven insights that are customer-centric and unique from one individual to the next.

Three key ingredients for campaigns this year include the following:

1. Consistency across channels

We are no longer living in a one- or two-channel world where messages are tossed out for us to digest. Consumers are interacting with brands on their PCs, smartphones, and tablets on social media sites as well as in the store.

Having a multichannel presence is not enough, however. Your customers also expect there to be consistency across each.

Take online travel as an example. People today demand that airlines present the option to check in online and then have their boarding pass available on their mobile device. That capability simplifies a very cumbersome process. It seems simple enough, but if one channel lacks the same functionality (e.g., it doesn't allow Customer X to access to transfer flight information from one device to the next), he may look to restart his efforts elsewhere. If he is influential enough, he may bring other customers along for the ride.

2. Personalization on all channels

Thanks to the explosion of data, businesses can get to know millions of customers on an individual level. In fact, these customers want to share this information but on one condition: Brands must use this information to meet their unique needs.

Successful companies use multiple layers of analytics (demographic, behavioral, attitudinal, etc.) to monitor what customers like to buy, what promotions drive purchases, which devices they browse and buy from the most, and even what products they may considering buying, often before the consumer takes action.

With this complete customer snapshot, retailers can then personalize every interaction, from the smartphone to the showroom.

For example, an online consumer electronics retailer may send Customer X an email promotion when items on his wish list are on sale. When Customer X goes to pick up the item in the store, the retailer instantly sends a greetings text to his smartphone that directs him the pick-up counter while also sending an email coupon offering discounts off accessories related to their new purchase.

3. Tactical ROI

Analytics can also revolutionize how marketers measure success.

Teams today are launching campaigns that include dozens of individual components. For example, a travel company's campaign may include a survey designed for Facebook users while another component sends travel coupons to customers on their smartphones upon entering a company-sponsored sporting event.

Just because the overarching campaign is meeting its promise doesn't mean all components are hitting the bull's eye. Using analytics, teams can examine each tactic, identify those moderately successful, and make the necessary adjustments. At the same time, they can pinpoint which promotions are missing the mark and put them on the chopping block in favor of a new idea.

With insights into everything, there is no need to reinvent the wheel when just one or two spokes are broken.

* * *

Businesses today are shifting from an advertising-fueled model to a personalized approach that delights their customers, no matter where the connection is made. At the heart of it all will be having a clear understanding of your customers and the ability to deliver value across at all stops along their brand journey.


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Deepak Advani is general manager of IBM Commerce, a business unit focused on enabling business leaders to use data, analytics, and cloud to build deeper, more valuable engagements with their customers, partners and suppliers.

LinkedIn: Deepak Advani  

Twitter: @deepakadvani 

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