According to Forrester's latest study, Use Behavioral Marketing To Up The Ante In The Age Of The Customer, only 45% of marketers capture and consolidate customer behavioral data from multiple channels in a single database -- and of those who identified themselves as “mature behavioral marketers,” only 60% were consolidating behavioral data.
The findings underscore a variation on an old theme: It's not reality, but the perception of reality that matters most.Marketers might believe their behavioral marketing is mature, but the data doesn't support those assertions.
So what happens when marketers' perception of reality is flawed, as Forrester's findings suggest? Marketers end up with lost opportunities to drive loyalty, while customers miss out on enhanced experiences with relevant rewards.
Marketers' caution in embracing modern customer engagement is not surprising. Insights derived from analysis of behavioral data are the new frontier of customer engagement, thanks to today's wide variety of communications and marketing channels. There is bound to be a disconnect between what marketers think they are doing versus what they are actually accomplishing. Customer metrics are no longer limited to boring (yet still important) basics like products purchased, basket size, time, frequency and location of purchase.
It's as if marketers -- the ones who use customer data correctly -- have, for the first time, a holistic 360-degree picture of the customer.
Ditch the glitch: embracing the total customer view
Brands must know who their customers are and what motivates their actions before investing in any specific engagement. Once brands learn about their customers from a holistic and emotional perspective (i.e., what motivates loyalty beyond specific brand offerings) marketers can make small investments, testing and learning what works and what does not.
For example, it would be foolish for a company that sells PGA golf equipment and apparel to invest millions in a Facebook presence if the bulk of its customers in their 50s and 60s (the average age of Masters Tournament viewers is 56) have no interest in engaging via that channel. So yes, product and service attributes like pricing, quality of customer service and online/mobile outreach all matter, but their importance depends on specific customer insights.
Of course, embracing the total customer and improving behavioral data capture requires additional brand partnerships. Coalition customer rewards programs that allow members to share and pool points are a good example, as they can provide marketers with more insights than siloed loyalty programs can alone.
Gathering granular insights can also be achieved through less lofty partnerships. Returning to professional sports, the NBA recently announced an expanded multiyear partnership with Taco Bell, its official quick-service restaurant partner, which will include a new digital and social program showcasing the best buzzer-beater moments. The enhanced partnership allows NBA and Taco Bell fans to enjoy what the league calls “can't miss” moments while each brand gets to learn more about its customers and the behaviors that motivate their loyalty.
Considering that Nielsen estimates U.S. smartphone adoption at 64% and 80% of new phone purchases were smartphones, gathering behavioral data from multiple aspects of consumers' lives should be easier than ever.
It's time marketers recognize that their perception of reality is different from actual reality. Behavioral metrics matter just as much as traditional measurements in creating the kind of timely and relevant loyalty experience that today's customers demand.