CPG companies today have it tough: Consumers are fickle and unpredictable. They no longer make a purchase decision based on price alone; instead, they look at the holistic experience a brand delivers, starting with marketing and ending with the product itself.

As the buying journey becomes much more fluid (and less dependent on one single factor, such as price), marketers run into the challenge of understanding what exactly will convince a customer to buy. To solve that problem, marketers need to look at customer relationships in a new way.

It's no longer about bombarding customers with messages and hoping they'll purchase a product; it's about gathering customer data and listening to what they want.

Here are four ways to use that data to ensure brands are delivering the end-to-end experience their customers are craving—and, in doing so, increase customer loyalty.

1. Use customer data to foster personalized engagement

Good marketing starts with understanding the customer. The modern consumer sees more than 5,000 brand messages a day; so, if you don't understand your customer enough to craft and deliver personalized content, your message will never cut through the noise.

To develop that personal relationship—to create an emotional connection and ultimately drive purchase—brands must understand what customers want to hear, and how they want to hear it. Ask what your customers care about, then use that customer data to craft meaningful messages that align with their values, lifestyle, and behavioral preferences.

For example, Chris Thorne, former CMO of baby company the Honest Co., noted in an interview with eMarketer, that to go beyond just selling, the team uses customer data to build new content almost daily and delivers it in a variety of formats, such as text, images, and user-generated content. The stories are personalized and inspiring to customers.

2. Use customer data to deliver tailored product recommendations

Marketing isn't only about delivering the right message, it's also about delivering the right product. That means taking the idea of personalized messaging a step further to deliver personalized product recommendations. Customer data is critical in doing that.

When brands take the time to learn about customers up front, to understand their pain points, they can design a product experience that aligns with what the customer needs. Fully 45%of consumers are more likely to shop on a site that offers personalized recommendations.

This is exactly what Care/of vitamins did to take on the gigantic vitamin market. CEO Craig Elbert has reimagined the vitamin experience with customized vitamin packs delivered directly to customers' doors. All of those vitamin packets are based on a simple questionnaire that customers fill out on the Care/of website.

That one quiz is all the brand needs to gather customer data before using an algorithm that takes into account clinical research to personally recommend vitamins to customers; this simple quiz has gone a long way in helping to differentiate the brand.

3. Use customer data to optimize the omnichannel customer experience

Marketing teams must embrace omnichannel marketing to stay top-of-mind for customers. Brands with omnichannel strategies see a 23x higher rate of customer satisfaction than brands that don't. Without consistent messaging across channels, consumers will have disjointed brand experiences, leading them to look elsewhere.

But the plethora of digital and offline channels make choosing tough. Customer data can help bridge that gap between those touchpoints by understanding what consumers are looking for from each individual experience.

Men's grooming company Harry's recently expanded its DTC (direct to consumer) business to retail. Harry's marketers knew it needed to tap into real customers to understand what would, and wouldn't work, in the retail setting.

A team deployed to follow real-world shoppers found that "Guys were overwhelmed by choice at retail," according to Michelle McKinney, Harry's shopper marketing director, in an interview with Glossy.

This customer data led Harry's marketers to make it easier for customers to choose Harry's products in-store. They built an eye-popping display that customers could spot from five feet away. The data drove the design, and the popular brand's experience in-store is consistent with its online story.

Bonus: Use customer data for product innovations

Data can keep customers engaged in a constant feedback loop that lets them feel as if they're a part of brand innovation. It makes customers feel that they're making an impact on the product, while also allowing brands to stay ahead of the curve in their market.

Let's look at the Harry's example again. As Harry's expanded its product line into the styling market, the team received feedback from more than 3,000 men through face-to-face research, in-store interviews, in-office concept testing, and at-home product testing. After understanding the largest pain points with current styling products, Helen Sung, Harry's senior director of product development, said they knew what their product should and shouldn't do.

Without customer data, marketers are making assumptions about the messages their customers want to hear and the products their customers want to use. It is vital for marketers to use customer data to listen to customers to deliver the best experience possible, which will ultimately build brand loyalty.

More Resources on Customer Data

Transparency and Trust: The Key Links Between Data Regulation and Customer Experience

Five Steps to Winning Back Lost Customers by Using Targeted Content

What Your Customers' Searches Can Tell You. Are You Paying Attention?

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image of Susan Frech

Susan Frech is a co-founder and the CEO of Vesta, provider of engagement and loyalty software that helps marketers build and manage online brand communities. She has 20+ years of experience in the advertising and marketing services industries.

LinkedIn: Susan Frech

Twitter: @SueFrech