The explosion of digital data sources that are available to marketers is revolutionizing the way that brands engage with their customers. According to a recent report from Gartner, 73 percent of companies are either currently or planning to invest in big data initiatives over the next two years, with a focus on enhancing the customer experience. Gartner analyst Laura McLellan also predicts that, by 2017, CMOs will have spent more budget on IT than CIOs will. This indicates that the desire for data-driven insights is higher than ever. This is not surprising when you consider that McKinsey finds that using data to inform marketing-related decisions increases the productivity of marketing spend by 15 to 20 percent.
But the ever-expanding amount of available customer data can also be overwhelming. How can brands find the signal in the noise and create engaging, data-powered marketing campaigns? The following tips and insights are designed to help marketers use the data they have on hand to better understand and engage with their customers.
Connect the Dots
The same old digital marketing tactics are not cutting it any more. Your customers are now mobile and use multiple devices in various locations throughout their day. In addition, they use those devices for work, to wind down, and to shop. This makes parsing intent and behavior from cookie-based analytics extremely difficult and increases the likelihood that reports will be muddied by incomplete or inconsistent data.
The next generation of marketing requires a deeper level of understanding of the consumer, something legacy tactics can’t reliably deliver on their own. That’s why you need cookies that connect data between sessions and device, revealing individual trends, behavior, and areas of opportunity. But you have to remember to connect the IDs of cookies across multiple devices that belong to a single person. From there, you can see what the data is actually telling you about each customer as an individual and how he or she browses and shops. With those insights in hand, you can create more targeted campaigns that reach consumers across platforms – treating them like people and not simply as a series of data points collected by a cookie, which helps the marketer provide a consistent experience across all connected devices.
But data-driven marketing is more than just tracking and optimizing behavior. It also involves meeting your customers where they are. Geotargeting can help create relevant experiences based on time, location, current weather conditions, and more. For example, a smart marketer knows not to promote a Patagonia fleece to a potential customer in Florida. A smart marketer knows that potential customers in the northeast during the month of December would benefit the most from that Patagonia fleece. The same thinking can be applied to brands appealing to a global customer base. Because overseas shoppers will see a dot-com URL rather than their national extension, they may wonder: Does this company ship to my country? If so, can I expect drastic shipping fees?
Enter geotargeting. When the page loads for UK shoppers, for example, geotargeting technology recognizes their location and displays a box with clearly defined benefits just for that traffic segment, including flat-rate shipping and the ability to shop in their native currency. With 70 percent of consumers opting to share their location information for the sake of receiving some sort of loyalty or benefit, location-specific content can provide customized relevancy that increases the chances of a conversion and a more reliable and engaging shopping experience.
Keep Current Customers
Marketers also can use data they have on hand to retain existing customers. This can be done by incentivizing customers with tailored offers that factor in customers’ past purchases and cross-promote products they may also enjoy. You can even give those returning customers preferential treatment, such as VIP-only shipping promotions and other perks. There’s always going to be the most important customer who deserves a meaningful experience. Pay attention to this customer. Ignore the masses for a second. Use the data you already have on this customer (demographics, income, marital status, day of the week he tends to buy, etc.) to develop a clear picture of the actual person behind this data. And then deliver an experience best suited to that individual.
Sophisticated targeting will work only if it’s synchronized across channels. Marketers should be able to determine the differences in how consumers browse and buy on social, mobile, and desktop, and respond to that behavior accordingly.
Data-driven marketing is the smart way for brands to connect with their customers and deliver relevant experiences that drive engagement and bottom-line business results. Today, customers are in the driver’s seat. They are constantly inundated with pleas for their attention from other marketers, media organizations, and more. Only the retailers who deliver a compelling customer experience will thrive in this competitive environment.
Brett Bair is an author and ecommerce strategist with over 20 years of experience. As Monetate’s senior director of digital marketing insights, he helps leading ecommerce brands leverage technology to drive growth.
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