Like marketing content, we are all faced with a data tsunami. There are so many data points that can be utilized to aggregate, analyze, and act on that we need to be very selective in what we choose to use. Perhaps the most important set of data we have to focus on is that relating to customer intelligence.
Our ability to know everything that we can about our customers is a key factor for success in this highly competitive marketplace. If you’re not doing so, you can bet that your competitors are mining whatever customer data they have to the hilt. They’re utilizing it for decisions to further enhance the customer experience of their customers making it more difficult for you to compete against them.
How do I handle it?
With the plethora of data, the first two questions that should be asked are where do I start and what are my objectives? As revenues and profits are the requirements for a successful enterprise, your activities from the outset should be with this in mind. More importantly, you need to be customer-centric in everything you do and ensure that all of your efforts align with this focus. How you properly compile, analyze and utilize data to support your objectives is paramount.
This is easier said than done. Data is available and accessible from multiple sources and in various forms. Often times it can be difficult to integrate it into one uniform data set that can be readily accessed and reviewed. A user-friendly dashboard showing the analytics from each point is a necessity. Furthermore, given the explosion in new technologies such as those with the Internet of Things, it will become even more difficult to keep up with how to effectively manage, and interpret what it all means.
For those engaged in eCommerce, the gathering of customer intelligence for decision making is not very complicated, as the customer “footprints” can be followed with readily available software that even shows such things as what customers viewed and for long. A deep dive, however, will show that it can be quite complex. The number of interaction points where customers “engage” can be quite high. This requires a great deal of observation in analyzing the behavior of the consumer on the website from the initial point of contact to them leaving the site prior to a purchase or after a purchase has occurred.
To really have a clear appreciation of the buyer behavior each and every engagement point that a customer has with your website, on phone calls, via social media, or in person has to be mapped. It is only then that a determination as to what data can be gleaned from each activity that will benefit your business and help to enhance the customer experience. It is critical that you consider the relative importance of each data point to your business and rank order them, as an inordinate amount of time can be spent on areas that are not that critical. For instance, if you notice a large drop off in conversions in the shopping cart area, you know that you there is a disconnect between what you’re doing and what the customer expects in finalizing the purchase. Some of this data might not be readily available and will require further contact with the customer.
As data storage continues to become less expensive, attempts should be made to capture as much data as possible on a site visitor. Utilizing cookies and storing the history of that individual as a record, you’ll get a sense of what are their preferences if they subsequently opt-in via an email address or purchase transaction. At that time, the prior history can be matched with the email address to allow for a complete transaction history of that individual since the first time they visited your site. What a treasure trove of information!
Be consistent and nurture relationships
It is critical that you use customer data on a consistent basis and make a determination as to who are your best customers, as this might change over time. Without this intelligence, your product offering and marketing efforts may be totally disconnected from your ideal audience and you’ll miss out on sales opportunities. You can also use this data to cross or up-sell them on other products via product suggestions. Amazon is certainly a company that does a great job in this area.
As any good marketer knows, the initial purchase is only the first step in developing a customer. Utilizing customer intelligence, post-purchase marketing campaigns with personalized messages can be used to nurture the relationships. It is imperative that the interactions seem genuine and that they are clearly targeted, as today’s consumers are constantly bombarded by content and unless it clearly resonates with them they will not read and act on it.
Test, measure and be prepared to pivot
Customer intelligence gathering and utilization is not a static process, but one which needs to continued to be tested and measured to ensure that the desired results are realized and maximized. Therefore, its refinement and updating will be an ongoing necessity that should become a routine part of your business to ensure that you are providing customers with products they need via the appropriate channels at the correct time and at an attractive price that drives demand and maximizes your revenue and profits.