How can we use customer data to gain a competitive advantage?
Data is an asset. You probably know this, that’s why you’ve made sure that you collect an email address in exchange for a download or at the POS, right?
Right. But do you know where else to look for data? Do you know if you are capturing the most useful data for you and your customers? Do you know what to do with that data once you have it?
Don’t worry - you’re not alone. If you are anything like me, the day-to-day tasks exclude data management. But for me, this is causing a massive disconnect between what data I’m collecting, knowing what data is useful and knowing what to do with it. And why is it so important? Because taking the time and putting the systems in place to understand data can improve engagement and conversions and give you a competitive advantage.
Using customer data helps you unlock valuable information about your customers, not just who they are and where they live: data can give you insight into their interests, pain points, behaviours and more.
To extract this information, you need to delve deeper than simply capturing an email address and date of birth (although still essential) and begin to use other tools and resources to understand not just who your customers are, but how you can tailor your marketing strategies and business plans to best serve them.
So, where can you find this data?
- Tailor your contact forms: Take a good look at the data you’re collecting - are you getting as much as you should be? Are you getting data that will help you? Customers are precious about their data, so asking for too much could result in them not giving you any, but that doesn’t mean that what you ask for shouldn’t be relevant to you. For example, if you are in the wedding industry, knowing when someone is getting married is a vital piece of information you must have!
- Monitor Social Media: Are people talking about your brand? What are they saying? Are they talking about a product you sell? What are they saying? Conversations, both positive and negative, hold information that you can harvest and use to your advantage.
- Browsing Habits: How are people interacting with your site? Even non-converters (perhaps especially non-converters) can provide insights. Abandoned baskets, exit pages and what pages are navigated to in one session can inform how you interact with your next customer.
- Marketing Interactions: Understanding how your customers interact with your existing marketing efforts, you can improve future marketing campaigns. Make sure that you A/B test emails, analyse open rates etc., constant analysis and refinement will give you insight and an advantage.
Now, you have a lot of data coming your way. What can you do with it?
Automate your marketing campaigns
This is perhaps one of the most important emerging practices! Not only does marketing automation help you make sense of Big Data, but in doing so, it optimises your marketing campaigns and investments. by improving your engagement with prospects and customers alike. Automated campaigns save you time and ensure that you don’t miss out on any leads.
Tailor your marketing
The information extracted from customer data enables you to make your marketing efforts relevant to individual customers. No longer do you have to send emails where you try and cover all bases in the hope that you might strike gold, or accept that the email may not be relevant to 70% of people who open it.
Yes, making tailored emails for all of your customers is a big job. Do you have the resource? That’s where automated and dynamically driven campaigns can help. Odeon have used these systems to great effect in their email marketing. From one template, they send all their customers bespoke, personalised emails based on their location, browsing and film watching habits. The content is populated automatically and the emails are sent automatically. Simple.
We know that relevancy and personalisation improve open rates and conversion rates, so we should all be doing it.
Respond to trends
If you monitor things like social media conversations and searches on your site, you can use the data and insights to spot and respond to emerging trends. Being the first to bring something to market or to solve a problem is one of the most important ways to keep ahead of your competitors. Trends go further than just what products people want to purchase: trends in technology, economy and lifestyle can and should influence your marketing strategy.
Is it for you?
Changing your game plan to better utilise data may seem like an enormous challenge and it may feel like going back to the drawing board and turning your marketing strategies upside down. And perhaps, for some of you at least, it is.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it, it is only a matter of time before everyone is doing it! And once everyone is doing it, the competitive advantage is significantly reduced. Can you afford to wait?
Be nimble, utilise the tools available to you and embrace change – it’s not as hard as you think…it’s all in the data.
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Joining Maximizer Software in May 2012, Anita lends her expertise to the delivery of all marketing communications and PR. With a Diploma in Direct Marketing and more than 14 years marketing and commercial experience, Anita is responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of a diverse portfolio of marketing tactics, specialising in...