In a world where consumers are empowered to choose where, when and how they purchase, data is the currency. But how can we as marketers and business owners embrace this new norm and create deeper relationships with our customers?
The word ‘data’ from the Latin datum, means “something given.” In today’s marketplace virtually every interaction a consumer has with a brand now requires a degree of data exchange, and this has become the norm for both business and customer. From a marketing perspective, data collection and analysis provide a valuable opportunity for businesses to gain insight into customer preferences which can be channelled into the delivery of a truly personalised customer-centric experience. A recent Gartner research paper identified customer-centricity as a powerful way for organisations to differentiate from competitors; in this battle for customer attention the value of data cannot be underestimated. Applied effectively it can provide businesses with a richer insight into the personal characteristics that make up the human behind a data point. Businesses have the opportunity to use data to develop a richer picture of their audiences and use the information to foster more personal (and profitable) connections.
Why look beyond transactional data?
A recent survey conducted by Forbes Insight with business decision makers found that only 27% considered their company able to turn their customer data into useful information and act on it. The reality is, that behind the data points, for marketers at least, sit people. And where people are involved, we move from linear systems that align to identifiable “laws” to complex system non-linear in nature. Communicating with consumers in a meaningful way is only possible if a personal connection is made between the brand and the individual. Customer segmentation is a popular and established method of ensuring relevance between consumer and brand interactions.
When segmenting or profiling customers from their data, brands must look beyond transactional figures and get to know the person behind the profile. The use of data to analyse customers should provide a three-dimensional view of each individual identifying buyer preferences, motivations and needs and mapping how the brand can truly satisfy the customer with every interaction. Creating a clear representation of consumer activity provides businesses with valuable insight into individual behaviour and key drivers. By doing this, brands can create more valuable interactions that drive trust and customer loyalty and enables businesses to reach out to customers on an emotional level which is so important in developing lasting connections. Despite massive technological advances in today’s digital world, a human, often emotional connection is still the primary driver for much consumer action.
How are some leading brands using (or not using) data to increase conversions?
Waitrose provides us an example of a business using data for personalisation to develop stronger customer relationships. The very nature of the high-end Waitrose brand means the supermarket cannot compete on price requiring a focus on ways to enhance their customer experience. The ‘MyWaitrose’ loyalty program gives members the opportunity to save up to 20% on their most frequently purchased items. This approach supports the idea that Waitrose understands its customers and treats them as individuals rather than simply using general one size fits all offers. With the double incentive of both savings and greater control, this is an excellent example of how to effectively empower the consumer as well as improve general perception of the brand.
Marks and Spencer has sadly paid the price for failing to engage with its customers on a personal level after several years of falling profits, confusion over its brand identity and failure to resonate with any one customer group. As retail analyst Nick Bubb explained “If you want to be all things to all men – and all women – it’s going to be an impossible task,”. The Marks and Spencer example highlights that brands that do not fully understand the nature of the customer cannot possibly build meaningful consumer relationships that foster loyalty.
How Does GDPR affect our ability to humanise data?
The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25th May this year has brought the use of personal information for commercial gains in to the spotlight and has generated much greater awareness amongst the general population about personal data use and misuse. According to a report released in February by the DMA, the vast majority of consumers (78%) believe that businesses benefit disproportionately from data exchange in the UK.
Greater scrutiny is being applied to businesses which collect, hold and use our personal information and high-profile data breaches in organisations such as the NHS and Facebook have made many consumers much more likely to question a business’s motives for requesting personal information. It goes without saying the imperative is on businesses to handle consumer data responsibly, respecting the rights of the individual. Using data ethically and only in considered ways that enhance that individual’s experience ensures trust is front and centre in the company-consumer relationship. Trust in an organisation or business remains the dominant prerequisite when engaging consumers within the data economy. In fact, 54% of respondents to a recent DMA survey ranked this option in their top three considerations for data exchange with a brand.
Unlocking the power in your data
Data collection is an essential function of marketing strategies today, but the important differentiator for a brand is how that data is used. By effectively using analytics to combine both transactional and behavioural data to create a comprehensive three-dimensional view of the customer, businesses can fully understand the people behind the data point and in turn provide an enhanced personalised experience, cultivate more valuable relationships and generate results.
About the Author
Stuart Robb is CEO and founder of Equiniti Data. Equiniti Data is a leading provider of process and technology solutions for complex and regulated markets. Equiniti service 70% of FTSE 100 companies and have more than 4,000 employees across 30 locations. Visit https://equinitidata.co.uk for more information