This is a guest post by Lisa Arthur.
I saw a statistic in Direct Marketing News recently that depressed me. According to a recent survey, fewer than one in five Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) think they are any good at Digital Marketing. A full 60 percent of them will be hiring or changing marketing agencies to “fix” the problem.
What’s going on here? I have my own theory. I think too many CMOs are looking outside their companies for answers, expecting an agency to come in with little supporting evidence, wave a magical high-tech wand and fix all their issues. The issue is not the agency. The issue is data, and too many companies that are unable to get a grip on the information they need about their customers.
A recent study from the McKinsey Global Institute proves my point. It showed that the amount of data generated by global companies is expected to grow at an average yearly rate of 40 percent, while global IT spending grows only five percent. Is this really the best we can do?
Big data, when applied to marketing, can give you the broadest possible understanding of your customer and whether your marketing budget is well-spent. For a detailed, industry-wide view of where big data is going in marketing, check out our report (content centerpiece name here). When it comes to data-driven customer intelligence, can your organization answer these questions about your customers?
1. What messages do your customers need to know next?
Predictive modeling is one of the biggest benefits of big data. Where are your customer leads coming from—coupon redemptions? Online search? Banner ads? Foot traffic from major shopping outlets? A comparative analysis can help you focus your spend. What are the individual shopping habits of your customers? What kinds of patterns can you see? If a customer bought one kind of item, how likely is he to buy something related within a certain period? If you’re in the automotive business and a customer just bought snow tires, chances are good she may also be looking for tire chains and antifreeze within the next month. Are you making the most of this low-hanging fruit?
Ingram Micro is an example of a company we were able to help with targeting efforts. This Fortune 100 company has seen marked increases in online sales after better segmenting its customer types and improving the frequency and relevancy of its messages to those markets. Ingram Micro went from customers complaining about receiving too many marketing messages— and seeing 3- to 6-month gaps between purchases— to customers getting more immediate follow-ups and making purchases on a monthly basis. Because the interactions were relevant, they weren’t considered intrusive.
2. What do your customers need from your call center agents or direct salespeople?
If your call center agents and salespeople can see your customers’ buying patterns, they could be using this key contact time to point out special offers, promote giveaways, or suggest related items to the customer. You have this data already. Are you making the most of it?
3. Are your customers nearby, or talking about you in social media?
Is a previous customer surfing your website right now? Is a previous customer in the mall where your store is located? Technology now makes it easy to push special messages to this group, through pop-up ads, reminders, push texts and more. Think of it as a way to virtually reach out, shake your customer’s hand, and say, “We’re glad to see you again.”
Knowing this information about how your customers interact with your company—online, in stores and in social media — can give you a lot more insight than just when to send a special offer. Aggregating this data can also help you predict when you will see spikes in consumer interest. Are there a lot of people clicking on or talking about a product in customer portals or on your Facebook page? Are your transaction levels for this product climbing? Is there a buzz about it in related websites? If so, maybe it’s time to increase inventory and ad spend in the areas where interest is peaking.
4. What interactions will improve their experience, not just drive sales and marketing?
It’s time to look beyond the straight sales message. What information do your customers really need to know to understand your product? How does your product fit into their lifestyle or business? How can you work with customers to provide a great, informative sales experience, then extend that experience into a longterm, meaningful relationship? If you combine the sales and response data you have and overlay customer surveys with this data, you will start to get a fuller picture about what your customers really need to take your interactions to the next level.
5. Are your customers behaving as expected?
If you created a marketing program targeting a narrow part of your customer base, did that base respond in a way that showed a good return for your spend? Are you able to break down all your marketing efforts and match your customer response against your spend? Knowing these key metrics will make your marketing decisions much easier—and give you a good ROI defense for every project.
Warner Bros. recently benefitted from a similar granular data focus. It historically had been using six different companies to target over 840 micro-markets with 2,500 suppliers. Time-consuming weekly reports provided information too old to be truly actionable. When the company switched to an integrated marketing platform, it was able to streamline advertising purchases and connect them to finance and auditing processes, allowing for adjustments in ad spending when necessary. This is really the ultimate goal of marketing management, isn’t it?
If you are allowing your agency to manage your data for you, you will never see the full picture. You’ll also be asking your agency to do something it can never truly do. Managing your data is your job. Hoarding information in silos and corporate fiefdoms won’t work anymore. Fortunately, shared data platforms can drive the kind of innovation and collaboration that make all the marketing stakeholders in your organization look equally good. And the person who will see the outcome of this collaboration is the one who really counts—your customer.
For more about how the data revolution is affecting companies today, download our comprehensive report.
Lisa Arthur is Chief Marketing Officer at Teradata Applications, a software company creating dashboards for customizable data monitoring, campaign integration and marketing materials management for enterprise level companies. You can follow Lisa Arthur on Twitter @lisaarthur or on her blog http://lisaarthur.wordpress.com/.