Data. Gathering it, understanding it and acting on it have been a hot topic among marketers for the past couple of years. Businesses have been gathering data on customers and prospective customers for a while – whether it’s in the form of traffic, websites, app usage, CRM databases, call centre logs or loyalty programmes. The list goes on.
How can marketers access and activate all this data to better understand who their customer is and how, where and when to reach and influence them to the greatest effect and get the best returns on their investment?
It is no longer about presenting mass audiences with a single experience via one single touchpoint; a consumer’s experience has become much more dynamic and varied. During a television ad break, some consumers might be checking out social networks to engage in conversations about the programme, while others may watch on mobile or tablet devices or on replay services online. Each of these platforms presents different marketing opportunities with new data streams.
Businesses are increasingly looking at how economies of scale can be garnered by applying learnings from online channels to offline channels, and leveraging this across territories and markets.
Centralisation for profitable growth
Particularly in Europe, there is a growing trend across businesses and marketing departments alike for consolidating activity and centralising campaigns across trading blocs. This means a brand’s logos, graphics, content and tone of voice all have to be under one banner. Put simply, this boils down to the goal of wanting to achieve profitable growth. A great example is Ford, which in 2012 started a massive European transformation plan. This was based on manufacturing and design, but spread to its marketing and branding.
Some believe that if a company can streamline its product range, making it as appealing as possible to as wide an audience as possible, cost efficiencies can be achieved, as specialised versions for local market tastes are no longer required. This approach can influence marketing functions where businesses and brands aim to be less reliant on specialised market knowledge to achieve brand cut through.
Many marketing departments have reviewed and audited what they are doing across all of their territories, often appointing a new employee who is responsible for overseeing all marketing and advising the best practice in digital as a whole. Rather than implementing cutbacks, the focus is often on aligning brands, sharing knowledge as a group, consolidating in order to leverage brand activity across multiple territories and helping them learn from every market and take appropriate action. With a more connected and streamlined business, more can be achieved by the same campaigns, and for less time and money.
Data and digital trading platforms
Consolidation has largely been facilitated by the growth of online advertising, boosted currently by the way it is traded: automatically, electronically and in real time. Brands therefore have more access than ever before to a global audience and can buy advertising simply and efficiently if they utilise programmatic through one platform. This process uses and learns from the wealth of consumer data that it has also captured during this process, meaning that planning and buying audiences is much more detailed and granular than ever before.
A brand’s own first-party data is a marketer’s most valuable tool, it can be used in programmatic in a number of ways. Typically, customer data can be used to build a ‘picture’ of the behaviours of existing customers in order to find prospective customers with act-alike modelling – finding users who display the same behaviour patterns and serving them relevant advertising.
But there are other ways first-party customer data can be used to maximise ROI. For example, if a brand is only interested in reaching new prospects, or at least consumers that aren’t already in its databases, it is possible to cross-check the first-party data in real time before an ad is served to that individual.
The next wave among more advanced businesses is to take this approach not just across digital marketing teams, but across offline and CRM teams as well.
There are an increasing number of opportunities for marketers to influence existing and prospective customers via a huge variety of marketing channels available, such as digital display, social media, mobile, video and TV. Every device, app, social network and publisher presents another marketing opportunity, and with each of these comes more and more data.
So how can marketers make this valuable and actionable data, whilst simultaneously achieving optimum campaign ROI, and providing consumers with the most conducive brand experience?
A data management platform (DMP) can help you better understand your customers and identify whether you have entirely different customers visiting your website or phoning your call centre, or whether there is cross-over. DMP can minimise campaign guesswork by automating audience profiling and finding patterns within the huge amounts of data, both online and offline.
Here, all of a brand’s data silos such as sales databases, brand marketing activity, website data and loyalty programmes are integrated into one centralised marketing hub that can inform all of the inputting streams.
This cross-channel methodology can then influence the way a marketer can engage with a consumer and assist them in becoming a spending client. For example, knowing if a person visiting a brand’s website is an existing customer, if they have been searching contextually relevant websites, if they normally renew via the call centre, or if they are following the brand on Twitter, would all enable the marketer to make better informed decisions. Marketers can figure out if a user should be contacted by a call centre during their visit to the website, send the Twitter deal again via SMS, or be targeted with a relevant online ad.
With the DMP doing the heavy lifting of data analysis in real time and turning big data into valuable, actionable data, marketers will have more time to deep dive into their audience, what drives them to buy and what their purchasing patterns are. This means consumers receive relevant content at different touchpoints. Correlations can also be derived that will result in informed future strategies and ensure their optimal value, so that marketing budgets can be effectively invested.
By centralising marketing activity across all markets and learning from all of your data, the most informed decisions can be made and consumers reached through their most probable buying channels.