Getting Closer To Customers: Eight Ways Data Can Help

Sometimes, we marketers get in our own way.  We flood people who don’t necessarily want to hear from us with a deluge of communications. Or we forget to say “thank you” to that long-time customer.

Data can be the secret weapon for getting closer to customers, understanding them and delivering the right communications to the right person at the right time. Here are eight data-driven marketing improvements any company can use to become more customer-centric:

1.     Clean and rinse your databases. Your data can get old and a little moldy. It frequently needs a good cleaning. You’ll maintain credibility with customers only if they see you as having your information about them perfectly correct – from how their name and address are spelled to reflecting their status as a customer. List hygiene is critical.

2.     Constantly advance the quality of your data. What seems like a daunting task isn’t that tough if you attack it incrementally and constantly. There are tremendous technological resources within easy reach to improve data quality. Software is available off-the-shelf to help you process data, or use an agency or service that’s data-savvy. Automate your data update processes to assure that customer files always have the most current data available.



3.     Be relevant to the customer. With high-quality data, you can make sure you’re on target with what the customer is thinking. You’ll want to fully understand where each customer resides on your company’s customer lifecycle. The data will guide you through the lifecycle continuum, starting with “Suspect” – where awareness is key. Then “Prospect” – where you help the customer research and investigate. Move them on to “New Customer” – where you help make the purchase process easy and welcome the customer into your family. Next is “Repeat Customer” – where you demonstrate that you understand the customer’s wants and needs, and that you’ll do anything to exceed her expectation. And finally, move that customer into the “Advocate” category – where you nurture the relationship and guide the customer toward advocating for your brand. You have every opportunity – through data – to know exactly where the customer resides within this lifecycle. And you can employ database management solutions to optimize your marketing contact with each important market segment.

4.     Be careful with purchased data. While you have control over your internally collected data, be cautious about data that you’re purchasing. You may have to use the instructions on your shampoo bottle -- wash, rinse and repeat -- to cleanse purchased data before you blend it into your existing data structure.

5.     Your data is talking to you; listen to it. Data will drive customer insight, engagement and ROI, if you’re willing to listen to it.  At minimum, data analytics will help you coax information from your customers that reveals insights about customer history, habits and preference. It’s there if you employ the data analytics tools available to you.

6.     Use the right channel. Customer data will tell you volumes about the channels that your target audience prefers.  It will help you devise the optimal -- usually the most profitable -- allocation of marketing resources across your various message delivery channels. Through a process of tracking costs and revenue by channel, you can subsequently track channel ROI. The numbers will guide you to the right channels.

7.     Hit the timing. Data will guide you to the right timing for your marketing communications. You can match communications to appear at customers’ doorsteps when they’re ready to upgrade an item previously purchased. Or you can reach out to them in a time period when they’ve been receptive previously. 

8.     Measurement is a must. You’ll be able to prove that an improved data capture and analysis system can measurably improve your relationship with customers. After all, if you can’t measure it, you can’t prove it.

We have moved into the era of customer-controlled marketing. That’s a very good thing if we capture the data inherent in this enhanced engagement with customers and put it to use to deepen the relationship. We’ll make the customer feel valued, and we’ll make money in the bargain.

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