It Takes More Than Data To Improve The Customer Experience

A survey by Merkle reveals that when marketers have extra money to invest in marketing, 32% would put it into data, analytics and technology. Some 16% would invest it in digital, 10% in paid media, 10% in search, 9% in content, 9% in resources and teams, 7% in social, 6% in email, and 1% in direct mail, according to data released Wednesday.  

Merkle conducted the survey — The Customer Engagement Report: Q3 2019 — a new quarterly report focused on CRM, in June 2019. It features research, best practices, and strategies focused on customer experience, promotions and cloud services. More than 200 marketers from North American brands participated, spanning retail, travel, financial services, insurance, entertainment, automotive, pharma and B2B.

Personalizing the experience means delivering contextually relevant content based on what brands know about their customers such as what they look to achieve along their path to purchase. It is becoming more evident that marketers who consistently deliver personalized cross-channel experiences are seeing moderate to substantial conversion improvements.

Search engine marketing has seen some of the largest major gains at 39% from personalization, according to the study, which cites data from Econsultancy. About 54% have seen a “minor uplift.” Offline saw a major uplift of 37%, followed by websites at 33%; email with 27%; SMS at 24%; social media with 23%; and mobile apps at 21%.

Email remains one of the most valued channels, despite marketers acknowledging they would invest little in online and direct mail if they had additional marketing dollars to spend. Some 52% cited email as the most valuable marketing channel proven for retaining customers, and 15% said it is the most valuable marketing channel for acquiring new customers.

About 48% said they will reduce budgets for direct mail, while 20% plan to increase budgets for direct mail and 11% have never invested in direct mail.

Marketers also said they are looking to integrate several types of media, which means investing in ways to acquire customer data. To accomplish this, 25% of marketers outsource creative work, and 45% collaborate with vendors to achieve creative goals.

It takes consumer data to build a better experience. Some marketers are using promotions or “do, gets,” which required the brand to give the consumer something of value for their data.

Some 84% of consumers participating in the study said they would review a product or brand, 83% would watch a brand video, while 80% would give up their email address. About 69% said they would upload a photo of a receipt for a recent purchase, 63% would use mobile in-store text, 53% would enroll in a loyalty program, 40% would attend a physical location for an event, and 27% would share content or a photo to their social network.

Merkle said if marketers take this route, bigger isn’t always better to motivate consumers. The likelihood of participation increases only slightly when consumers are offered a large prize compared with a smaller one -- something to make the consumer feel special.

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