Some businesses are able to thrive by understanding their customers, while others struggle to paint a picture beyond simple demographic data. The more brands learn about their customers’ identities, the more effective they are at marketing to them. Irrelevant marketing communications are a waste of both time and money at best.
At worst, these irrelevant messages can even cause offence. In order to avoid such instances, organisations must break through the identity barrier and market in a more personalised fashion.
I believe there are four different levels of customer understanding that help personalise marketing:
Basic User Understanding
Customer data is initially limited to email addresses, and the data acquisition strategy boils down to either an email newsletter signup page, or the purchase of information from third-party data brokers. The customer data sits in different silos — one for email, one for mobile, etc. — which prevents a single customer view.
It can be hard to tailor marketing communications, as there is no tangible data to make the messaging relevant. Assuming certain things about customers can be tempting, but should be avoided to ensure nobody is left embarrassed.
Basic Identity Understanding
In order to break through the identity barrier, organisations should form a strategy revolving around either traditional site registration or social authentication, in order to capture demographic data. Users can then be targeted with marketing messages based on age, gender, location, and perhaps a few other basic data points.
Sophisticated Identity Understanding
Customer profiles are much more extensive, and include demographic, social graph, and transactional data. Data is acquired via registration flows, social login options and customer loyalty programmes. The customer experience is much more personalised, and users can be targeted based on factors like purchase history, detailed site preferences, or social profile information including ‘likes’ from Facebook. Customer data is stored in an advanced database built with a dynamic schema structure that is capable of normalising both relational and unstructured data.
True 1:1 Relationship
Here, businesses build complete customer profiles with demographic, social, transactional, and behavioural data, all while respecting user privacy.
User data is compiled from registration fields, social profiles, onsite engagement tools such as comment feeds and product reviews, and supplemented with audience-based media buys. In addition to utilising a dynamic schema, the database is fully connected to existing marketing tools such as eCommerce platforms, email service providers and recommendation engines for seamless data export.
The level of customer understanding is so clear, that individuals can be targeted in real-time with optimised marketing messaging.With customer identity at the core of marketing, offensive communications can rest in peace.
David T Scott is chief marketing officer at Gigya