How times have changed for marketing. Marketing to groups of similar people – the technique of yesteryear – has now given way to individualised marketing, or at least the expectation that offers are relevant to the individual customer.
Channels and potential contact points have proliferated and the market for consumer attention is very saturated. We now let brands into our lives via a wide range of channels – mobile, email and affiliate email, interactive TV, cash-back schemes, telephone, SMS, instant messaging, display, pay-per-click and social media advertising and so on.
The sheer quantity of data does not make the marketer’s life easier but brings its own set of challenges. Just think of email: even when a digital database is deduplicated, this is not the end of the story as many people have more than one email, share email addresses, or provide inactive ones.
Reports show that the average person has just under two email accounts (1.86) and that only one of these is regularly checked, while another is used for items that are considered ‘junk’. Around one in ten of us open multiple accounts with a single online retailer. So the potential for email that will never get a response is massive.
Integrating all this information is a science in its own right. Combining a physical name and address with browsing history, abandoned baskets, ecommerce and store transactions, email data and mobile data, even data from WiFi within stores is no longer a nice-to-have.
It is becoming the norm of best practice for understanding customers, keeping their custom, and delighting them to the extent that they want to purchase more (and higher value) products, increasing their life time value to the company.
So, establishing a holistic “single customer view” (SCV) – is tough. Some 40% of businesses still store over 80% of their customers’ data spread across different systems in their organisations, highlighting that poor data quality, siloed systems and difficulties integrating technology are a significant hindrance.
With a fragmented understanding of the customer, any attempt to achieve personalisation can only be deeply flawed. Nonetheless, tools and techniques are now available to identify apparently different entities online which are – in fact – different activities by the same person. Some of these are technical; others are the fruit of experience.
Such intelligent techniques allow a company to interject communications at various points in the “purchase journey” – perhaps soon after a basket appears to have been abandoned, offering a small discount if the purchase is completed within the hour or perhaps even offering an incentive to visit the store.
Getting to this point is now the goal of every truly ambitious marketer. By understanding the customer across channels, and by combining and rationalising that view to arrive at a “net” behaviour picture – a real three-dimensional, or 720-degree view is the result.
Andy Wood is chairman of Go Inspire Insight