Consumer shopping can be dated as far back as ancient Greece, with the earliest known shopping list dated between 75-125AD.
Customers know what they want, when they want it, and where to get it. Or do they?
Impulse buying has long been a trait of which savvy shop owners have been able to take advantage. But, in this new digital era, can a company influence impulse buying when they never physically meet the customer? Can companies know what a customer wants or needs before the customer does, and put that product in the right place for them to influence their buying habits? The answer is yes!
By using an actionable, data-driven marketing strategy, companies can influence customers by providing them with what they want, when they want it, and where they want it without ever being given that information by the customer.
As much as it is a new concept, the idea of data for marketers is as important as the air we breathe. In fact, it is hard to think of any B2C or B2B marketing done today that does not revolve around data. So, what is data-driven marketing?
What is a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy?
Data-driven marketing refers to the insights gained and the consequential decisions made from the analysis of data about customers. The sources of that data can come from many places and people in all walks of life. It can include tracking online social interactions, online search behavior, web browsing history, geographical location of IP addresses, or even more direct information gained from surveys or contact forms.
All that gathered data then needs to be sorted, calculated, formatted, and understood to allow marketers to use it in an actionable way, because a mountain of data is no good if it can’t be used for the overall company benefit.
Additionally, the data shouldn’t be examined just to understand a result or a customer touchpoint, but rather to better understand why such results take place and why a customer appeared at that specific touchpoint in the first place. Armed with this in-depth information, specific to each individual customer, it is then the job of the marketer to put their brand in front of the right people, at the right time, to delight them and engage them with a special “wow factor”.
This sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Collect data, analyze it, pinpoint the right people, and sell them your product. The question, however, is why, as Teradata’s 2015 Global Data-Driven Marketing Survey found; “only 50% of marketers routinely apply data-driven marketing to individualize marketing messages and offers to enhance the customer experience.”
The answer; they have not, or have only recently started to, implement data-driven marketing strategies. The Teradata survey found that “today data-driven marketing is either embedded or strategic for 78% of marketers”. That is in contrast to the 2013 version of the same survey which indicated that “only 34% of survey respondents said their data-driven marketing was embedded or strategic.” The process of collecting data, analyzing it, and using it effectively can be quite long.
It is also a learning process as to whether the correct data was collected, whether the correct analysis had been carried out, and whether or not the resultant sales or advertising campaigns were successful. Therefore, a two year advancement in data-driven marketing strategies may not yet be enough to achieve the results that every marketer desires. It might take several more iterations before their strategy becomes perfected and fully-applicable to individual marketing messages and offers which enhance the customer experience.
However, don’t be deterred by the process. The importance of implementing an actionable strategy can’t be stressed enough. Working with ad hoc analysis and data collection for each campaign can be time consuming and does not give you the opportunity to develop a more refined approach; which can only happen with an underlying strategy.
What are the most important steps of an actionable, data-driven marketing strategy?
1. Determine What Drives Your Decision Making
Before any data can be collected, before any analysis can begin, and before any results can be sought you must first decide what the key driving factor is for any decisions you make.
What are your KPIs? Are you solely looking at revenue or income? Do you want to create an exceptional customer experience for your current customers? Are you only interested in attracting new customers or would you like to re-engage with old ones? Knowing what you really want to achieve sets you on your way to finding out how to achieve it.
2. Deduce What Data You Need to Collect to Help Your Decision Making Process
Collecting the right data is what could make or break the entire process. Having the wrong data will send you spinning into markets you just can’t handle or will just leave you scratching your head about where to go next. Divide your search criteria into quantitative (what happened? – number of site visits, number of downloads, etc.) and qualitative (why it happened? – customized landing page, customer specific offers, etc.). There is a myriad of information that can be collected.
You also need to decide if you want information on a person’s buying habits, what pages they like to visit, what do they interact with most, etc., or their personal info such as email, address, age, etc. Decide on the right info to give you the correct view of the customer to allow your decision making to become simpler.
3. Collect the Data
Now you know what data you are looking for; go and collect it.
Determine how you can get the information in the least intrusive manner possible to avoid annoying your customers. Are you going to use contact information forms on your website? Will you have surveys available at certain touchpoints on the customer journey? Do you require the collection of geographical locations based on IP addresses? Does the number of page visits on the “About Us” page of your site have a bearing on buying habits and if so do you collect that information? As well as all the online information that can be gathered there are also offline situations to consider. Do you have club membership forms? Are you carrying out in-store surveys? There are a whole host of opportunities to collect data, but make sure you are collecting the right data to benefit you.
This particular step should also be a continuous one even as you move through the entire process. The data will not fade but the opportunities to collect data certainly do. The moments also change. Buying habits differ with the seasons, new trends emerge, technology advances, and people change. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about your customers.
4. Analyze the Data and Create Buyer Personas
Once you have your data collected you must then analyze it from as many angles as possible to develop buyer personas. These are 360 degree views of your customers. Who they are, what they like to search for, what they like to buy, what interests them, what influences them; basically anything you can use to your advantage later on.
The more accurate and individualized these personas can be the better, as then the more accurate and individualized the content can be that you will present to the customers.
5. Roll Out Your Customer Focused “WOW” Information
You now know what you are trying to achieve. You have decided what data you need. You have collected the relevant data from various channels. You have analyzed it, found insights, and built your personas. Now it is time to build your content around your personas and put the right information in front of the right people at the right time.
You want to “WOW” your customers with how well you know them and delight them with the fantastic “personal” offers you have for them. Show them new items and trends that match their persona that they may never have seen without you. In every channel and through all stages of the buying process, provide an experience akin to a personal shopper in a top boutique and keep your customer coming back for more.
6. Measure Your Marketing ROI
This is without a doubt the hardest step in the entire process because you have to be honest in your own evaluation. Has all the work you have done up to this point been successful or a complete failure (don’t worry, it can never be a complete failure as you can always learn from your mistakes)?
According to the Kentico Marketers’ Survey “What do digital marketers really want in 2015?” online marketing effectiveness is not being measured enough with “only 17% doing it constantly”. How can you know if you have succeeded in your efforts if you do not measure it? Your job, at this stage, is to highlight the importance of the marketing team in the overall business value. Refer back to all your answers from Step 1 and use data to show the influence the process has had. Do you now have more customers? Are older customers returning? Have page visits or downloads increased on your site?
All these things can point towards a successful data-driven strategy helping to improve the business value.
7. Repeat & Improve
The landscape in which we live is forever changing and what worked today might not work tomorrow. A good, actionable, data-driven strategy must be flexible and move with the times. Embrace the past, but don’t live in it. Move forward, learn, adapt, re-think your position, improve your decision making, collect new data, learn from your mistakes, and always be aiming to deliver that “WOW” factor.
The good news is that you are not alone in implementing the entire process. There are a number of products on the market which can help you from design, through to implementation, and beyond. Integrated Marketing Solutions help with the process by allowing you to collect all the data you require, analyze it to get a 3600 view of your customers, use content personalization and personas to create the right content for the right person, and utilize marketing automation to deliver this content at the most opportune moment
Ultimately, the marketing done by a company can present it as an industry leader or an industry follower. That impression is going to be determined by the customers and the experiences they have with your company. If you can make a customer feel special, provide them with personal treatment, and show them the brighter things in life, then you are on the right track to success. By implementing an actionable, data-driven strategy and combining it with the powerful tools currently available you can impress and delight your customers at every turn and convert a simple customer into a company promoter.
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