Marketers must evolve to satisfy the new multichannel customer

8th Aug 2012

Marie Myles from Experian Marketing Services exlains why adopting a single customer view in a multichannel world can help organisations keep customers engaged and sales flowing. 


It is no surprise that in today’s connected world, consumer expectations of exactly how brands should communicate with them has changed dramatically. Consumers are sharing information across multiple networks through both online and offline channels and demanding that businesses do the same. Multi-channel has been a focus for marketers for a long time, and will continue to grow in importance in coming years as consumer demand for personalised, tailored communications increases.

In order to communicate with consumers in this way, organisations need to properly understand who their customers are, what interests them and how they like to engage. The best way to do this is by creating a single customer view (SCV) – which is only possible if all customer data and information is integrated and stored as one consolidated record on the customer database. Only then can communications be tailored according to a customer’s previous interactions and purchasing behaviours.

The benefits of a SCV solution are well documented for businesses, and include:

  • Enhanced understanding of customers’ behaviour, which in turn improves relationships, retention and cross-selling activities
  • A clearer insight into the type of customers you have, which allows for the business to make strategic customer organisational decisions
  • Opportunities to save on marketing spend, as campaigns can be tailored to suit the customer

Consumer expectations

Experian recently conducted research with 2,000 UK consumers to explore how they expect to be treated by brands in today’s multi-channel world. The results are illuminating for marketers. Three quarters of consumers (74%) said they would respond positively to a brand that they believe “understood them” and that connected with them on an individual basis.

More than half (57%) said that they would actively recommend the organisation, while 45% would tell others about their positive experience and 44% would actively sign up for additional marketing from that company. Perhaps most importantly, 29% of respondents would make additional purchases from a brand that marketed to them based on their personal preferences and situation.

But where does that leave British marketers? A similar piece of research into 400 businesses found that British firms clearly understand the benefits of having a SCV solution, with 41% saying that they would see better customer retention, 70% predicting cost savings and 33% wanting to boost revenues by using a SCV solution. In addition, 85% of businesses recognised that the lack of a single customer view had caused business problems. 

Of this group, 72% had started to build a single view of their customers. Only 16% felt that they already had a effective SCV solution in place while a mere 2% said that they were able to capture data across every channel. As such, it could be said that many businesses have at best a partial customer view, which is likely to be a significant contributor to the negative associations that many consumers have voiced regarding brands that target them with misdirected or inappropriate marketing.

A staggering 84% of consumers said that they would step away from a brand that repeatedly targeted them with either incorrect or irrelevant information. Some of the biggest consumer bugbears included repeatedly offering goods and services the customer has already expressed a disinterest in and contacted in ways already flagged as unwanted. Older people and the more affluent among us found this most annoying, which is a key point to remember when we think about the spending power and influence of this group. 

What this research has made clear is that the consumer expectation of brand communications has been turned on its head in recent years. Gone are the days when mass mailings were the best way to communicate with customers. Today’s consumers exist at the centre of their own multi-channel network: communicating across Facebook, Twitter, email, phone and by mail as they wish.

Marketers' strategy

Marketers today need an effective means of sorting the data wheat from the data chaff (to coin an awkward phrase). By doing this, they communicate with their customers on a level that they understand and, according to our research, desire. The benefits of a SCV are mutual, with consumers receiving information on products that they are highly likely to be interested in, and businesses seeing increased profits and a happier, more engaged customer base.

Consumers are clearly willing to reward the companies that invest in a comprehensive SCV – it simply takes bravery for a brand to take the plunge into the sea of data that is collected across channels and turn consumer data into customer insight.  

Marie Myles is director of Consulting, Data and Anayltics at Experian Marketing Services. 

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