“Amid the buzz about data marketing,” writes Matthew Parsons (@matt_parsons), “it’s all too easy to forget that customers are real people.” [“Big data gets personal: how to tailor the experience to suit your clients,” TTG Digital, 29 July 2014] Jess Marranco (@JessMarranco), an inbound marketing specialist at Mainstreethost, agrees with Parsons, but states it a little more colorfully. “Let’s face it,” she writes, “some businesses don’t know Jack.” [“Learning to Understand and Delight Your Most Important Marketing Asset,” Business 2 Community (B2C), 28 September 2014] They don’t know Jill either. In today’s world, it’s not enough to know that Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Marranco adds, “Jack is your customer, but he feels insignificant and disconnected from your business. If you continue ignoring his wants and needs, he might just become another lost customer.” Retaining current customers is often just as important as finding new customers. In fact, the chances are that if you take good care of your current customers, they will help you find those new customers.
Daniel Newman (@danielnewmanUV), founder of Broadsuite, writes, “Instead of worrying too much about the latest hype or the newest guruism, really the focus needs to be on this … Who is my buyer! That’s right, and while this may be a little trip down memory lane, this may very well be the most honest advice you will get from a world littered with content that is developed with one main purpose; to sell you something.” [“First Rule Of Marketing: Focus On Your Audience,” Forbes, 14 October 2014] In a digital business environment in which technologies are filling storage centers with oceans of data, the answer to the question “Who is my buyer” is best found through Big Data analytics. Getting to know the Jacks and Jills who buy your goods and/or services is important because, as Newman points out, “there simply isn’t a one size fits all methodology” for every business. Julie Knight (@Marketscan), one of the founder Directors of Marketscan, agrees. She insists, “A more analytical approach is required to unlock the true potential of your database-powered campaigns.” [“Finding the Right Target Audience for your Marketing Campaign,” Business 2 Community (B2C), 29 September 2014] Newman adds:
“For every company on the planet there is a target audience. This is the key group of buyers, brand ambassadors and influencers that either consume or can influence consumption of your product. As marketers, the strategy has to be to figure out who they are and target your digital and traditional marketing assets directly at them. These days it’s about tight targeting but also taking into consideration the main channels that drive conversion as opposed to just consideration. This is why understanding the decision making process and which channels are part of the journey is so important. In a world where multiple channels and mediums intersect at any given time, brands have an increasingly difficult job in trying to target the right message to the right person at the right time. This is why the audience focused marketer needs to steer away from one size fits all strategies and move toward targeting the most relevant buyers with the highest conversion probability.”
So how do you go about finding out more about your customers without crossing over into creepy stalker mode? It’s a fine line between getting to know your customers and creeping them out. Marranco writes, “Today consumers expect to be understood as individuals, getting what they want from a business before they even know they want it.” That kind of understanding requires good analytics. Marranco believes that one way of ensuring that you don’t cross the line into creepiness is by ensuring your marketing efforts make each customer feel special. She explains:
“Consumers don’t just want products and services; they want a connection and an experience. For this reason, it’s imperative for businesses to be human and personable, making each customer feel special through every step of the buying process and long after. … Put simply: customer retention. It’s easy to overlook, but vital to the success of a business. While 63% of marketers believe that acquiring new customers is the most important advertising goal, it’s the current, loyal customer base with the greater lifetime value. Not only that, but it can actually cost almost seven times more to acquire new customers.”
Knight recommends that you begin your marketing efforts by taking a surgical strike rather than a blunderbuss approach. She explains:
“Use data profiling to identify key personas and ask yourself:
- Are there commonalities in your database relating to your campaign that can be exploited?
- Perhaps a pain shared by certain sized companies?
- Differing departments that share the same issues?
- Typical customer characteristics that echo your campaign’s message?
- Or specific geographical regions or types that reflect your planned mail-out’s theme?
Data profiling can uncover leads and avenues for your campaign that you may not have considered before. Let hard data inform your decisions.”
Even though most pundits agree that Big Data analytics are becoming an essential part of any marketers tool kit, Riley Wilson (@RileySW) reminds us that good analysis can be challenging. “There are many difficulties in constructing personalized content to be an effective tool in marketing plans,” he writes. “Not only must brands manage multiple platforms and secure company resources, but they must also meet the challenges of conducting proper analytics and considering data privacy issues.” [“Custom, Targeted Content Is the Future of Marketing, Study Says,” Content Standard, 30 September 2014] The study referred to in Wilson’s headline is Forrester Consulting’s 2014 Thought Leadership Paper. That study concludes, “Brands’ current levels of marketing personalization are relatively modest due to a number of factors, including fragmented technologies and undefined maturity standards.” In other words, companies want to conduct targeted marketing effectively but are still unsure how to do it. Riley goes on to note that a “Curata study suggests that marketers focus too much on quantity and SEO and not enough on quality and context.” Julie Fleischer (@jfly), Kraft Food’s director of data, content, and media, certainly agrees with that assessment. While accepting Content Marketing Institute’s “Content Marketer of the Year” award for 2014, Fleischer stressed three things: Market to individuals, not segments; pay attention to trends and apply them quickly; and realize that content and advertising are inextricably linked. [“Kraft Says It Gets Four Times Better ROI from Content Than Ads,” by Jack Neff (@jackneff), AdvertisingAge, 10 September 2014] Fleischer calls this approach “relentlessly pursuing worthiness.”
Natasha Smith (@natashasNYC), a Senior Editor for Direct Marketing News, writes, “Predictive analytics coupled with personalization is proving to be a winning formula. … Content catered to an individual can even help convert customers who may not have been responsive to initial marketing messages.” [“Personalization Proves to be a Golden Marketing Strategy,” Direct Marketing News, 1 May 2014] She continues:
“In addition to remarketing, marketers can personalize their messages by creating an omnichannel experience. ‘Omnichannel is the buzzword right now. But the principle of omnichannel is here to stay,’ [Meyer Sheik, CEO and cofounder of Certona,] explains. ‘Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. [Marketers] should work at creating a holistic, unified profile of a consumer so that each channel can better inform the other channel, which is different from multichannel.’ He adds that marketers who focus on several channels without continuity in the customer experience aren’t leveraging the data that they have about consumers.”
Getting to know your customer (i.e., your Jacks and your Jills) so that you can tailor your content to their needs is essential for successful targeted marketing. Keeping your content relevant, useful, and engaging is important if you want to make your customer’s omnichannel experience one they want to experience time and again.