Mine the data to rise to the top

If you want to make it to the top, you have to know everything about your customers. So says Forrester. Hardly groundbreaking news, I’m sure you’ll agree. Yet so many marketers are still failing to realise the power that customer intelligence can offer.

Throughout the recession, we’ve heard that digital is core to the future of marketing. Even Coca-Cola’s senior board said this week that it plans to connect with customers more in the new year via operational marketing and social media.

Forrester’s research proposes that the future ranks of chief marketing officers will come from the “customer intelligence” division of businesses – those companies that devote special attention to mining through all the customer data they generate and use it for re-marketing purposes.

This role usually falls within the digital industry and we continue to see jobs looking for people with IT skills to cater for this rather administrative side of the industry. But as Google’s managing director Matt Brittin claims, it actually requires a much more closely-knitted marketing team.

The message coming out from the report is that you can’t work with your customers unless you know your customers – and you have to know them well. This might seem obvious, but it’s actually a core concern for many brands right now.

The core challenge of ‘how do I stand out, how do I keep custom and how do I effectively engage with my audiences?’ still rings true. The digital industry, particularly the agencies, must be able to show much stronger evidence of this in order to increase market shares.

Predictions are looking good but customer intelligence is still a rarity among some parts of the industry, whose focus is purely on analytics and conversions. If digital is the future, then it must redress the balance.

Perhaps a good place to start would be the e-tail industry. It’s proven resilient to the recession for most of the year, and popular sites like eBay, Amazon and Asos are huge talking points.

Yet the industry struggled to capitalise on its customer intelligence during the weeks the postal strikes took place. The figures show significantly slowed online sales growth – with a £53 million drop in growth during the last week of October. Granted, some of that can be accounted to for Halloween, but I doubt all of it could.

There were some reassurances and a number of firms even looked to other mail services but perhaps what was missing was that drive to pique people’s interests and give them a reason to keep coming back despite the misery in the offline world.

So I urge you to have a read of Forrester’s research in our article, and try to identify new ways of mining the core intelligence you extract from customers and help use it to make your name. It could even be the ultimate asset to help you rise to the top of your department.

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