Every consumer would like the brands that market to them to show a better understanding of their needs. The problem is many people remain reluctant to share the personal information that would make this an easier task for brands. Meanwhile, the volume of data that organisations can collect is growing so quickly that it’s often hard to know how to firstly identify ideal customers and, secondly, target them.
Insight is the key to unlocking better marketing practices. It can help you understand and simplify the complexity of customer journeys at all contact points and major life events. However, just like the term big data, insight is in danger of becoming an overused – and undervalued – term.
There are many ways to develop an insight strategy, many facets to insight and many possible outcomes. We think that if you set out with five essential goals in mind, your approach to insight will be smooth and seamless, likewise creating a similar brand experience for customers.
1: Work out which customers you want – and how to make them buy
Lots of brands have a ‘funnel problem’. They opt to send tons of direct mail to a vast pool of people, resulting in many potential customers dropping from the acquisition hopper thanks to poorly targeted campaigns. Clearly, mass mailing can work for some brands with almost universal target customer types, but others – high-end car companies, for example – need a more restricted, probably affluent group. The answer to this quandary is to take your own or external data and use insight to discover the right people to talk to and the best channels to use to do that.
2: Delve deep into data to fully understand your customers
It’s one thing to tempt prospects into becoming customers. Smart businesses don’t see a purchase as a one-off, though. It’s the first of (hopefully) many opportunities to ‘know’ that person better and ensure they keep coming back. Gaining deeper customer-level insight is vital. This granular understanding can be gleaned from in-depth analysis of the wider customer database but also databases for individual products. Profiling, mapping and segmentation are the pillars of this insight-driven quest for customer knowledge.
3: Don’t stop at one product sale: cross-sell and upsell
Throughout any customer journey there are various chances to highlight your wider product portfolio beyond what’s already been bought. Amazon is the classic exponent of this “you might also like” opportunism. Meanwhile, banks are another example of core cross-selling and upselling strategy: limited product portfolios make a good basis for a structured approach to contacting existing customers offering more financial help. But really the concept can apply to most businesses, think also of dealerships selling a car then immediately offering extras such as a service plan and insurance.
4: Spot behaviour shifts and respond to those triggers
As we all know, life isn’t simple and every so often something good or bad will come along to change the way we act – not just in our personal relationships, but in brand relationships, too. Clever organisations will be using insight to spot these shifts in behaviour and respond with relevant communications. For example, banks can see via current accounts when someone is having a bad month (have they lost their job?) or a good one (a bonus seems to have been deposited). Meanwhile, the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s with their masses of loyalty data can use insight to recognise when nappies and baby wipes suddenly become a regular fixture of the weekly shop, and offer personalised promotions on items for the new family member.
This step is not always easy if your organisation does not have very regular contact with customers. But it could be possible to achieve good results by using external data, using Bounty pack information in the instance above, for example.
5: Ensure product and customer retention is maximised
All the data you have, and lots of information you don’t own but could buy in, holds the key to a long-term relationship with your customers. It’s cheaper to retain than acquire customers, so using insight to spot when and why someone might be looking elsewhere for your product and service is vital, especially for cyclical brands like insurance or breakdown cover.
Look at all your data, make sure you understand when renewal is due and where you might have a problem with attrition. Target customers with renewal offers almost from the moment they first sign up, not two weeks before they’re due to say goodbye. Constantly improve the relationship and give them a reason to stay. Equally, this stage loops back to point 1: it’s a good opportunity to assess the real and lifetime value of customers to see which individuals or groups are truly worth having, and which you would be wasting marketing budget trying to retain.
The vast number of channels and recorded interactions now in play means so much more can be done with insight to really understand customers. Remember too that consumers’ knowledge of the importance of their own data is constantly improving so the more you can demonstrate you are thinking and acting wisely when using their information, the more sales you will make.
By DMA guest blogger Dougy Watt, Professional Services Director, Occam