Getting smart with data to drive real business rewards is one of the biggest hurdles marketers face. But there are a few hard-and-fast rules that you should adhere to if you want to get the most out of your data.
1. Collect the data
Sounds simple, right? It’s surprising how many firms neglect to collect data that is being produced across the business. Transactional data from point of sale purchase, laybys or holds, e-commerce and returns. Data from email marketing, mobile marketing, competitions and loyalty programs. Information captured from contact centres and social media. Log-in environments are also proving a rich source of data, with many brand websites now incentivising users to log in or register to view content, receive a service or manage an account. The possibilities are endless.
Once you have started collecting individual sets of data about consumers at every interaction, you can focus on applying techniques and methodologies to make the data sets talk to each other.
2. Stop waiting
There’s one phrase we hear most when clients are embarking on a data project – “We just need to wait until…” Until what? Until the data is more complete. Until we have a full set of data. Until department X, Y and Z give us their data. Stop waiting. The longer you wait, the more you risk being left behind by your competitors. You don’t need a 100% complete set of data to get started. Look at what you do have – does it include historical data, transactional data, data from competitions, and email databases? Chances are you have more than enough data to start eking out insights. You can always enrich the data from external sources and fill in the gaps with additional data sources over time.
3. Always ask: what does it all mean?
Data is capable of delivering an infinite number of insights – but only if you ask the right questions of your data. The beauty of data is that it doesn’t lie. Data can expose the discrepancies between declared preferences and exposed preferences – what people say they like and what they actually like. Look at what your data is telling you in terms of engagement – are customers engaging in your owned and operated social media channels, general social media sentiment, or other two-way marketing channels such as email, mobile, contact centre and e-commerce?
Analyse behavioural data and feedback, and look for the overarching trends. Then look for differences by segment. While basic customer research techniques can form a picture of what customers think, and form a fantastic base from which to make decisions, only data will paint the full picture, fill in the gaps, and take your understanding of customers to a new level.
Take power tool company Stihl. Its lack of a detailed understanding of customer behaviour was impacting the effectiveness of its communications strategy. But armed with customer analytics on the recency, frequency and monetary value of customer purchases, they were able to create a more targeted and more compelling communication program. As a result, they increased second product purchase for single product owners.
4. Break down the silos
Almost 40% of firms list ‘data silos’ as one of their top challenges in data driven marketing, according to Aberdeen Group. At the same time, two thirds of marketers only collaborate with other departments on an ad hoc basis (Teradata 2013). To overcome the data silos and create an exceptional customer experience requires collaboration. Does your company have two or more disparate data sources housed in different databases and technology platforms? You need to harmonise the data and compare different data elements relating to the same customer – a Single Customer View.
Myer One faced this exact challenge with its loyalty data – it needed to transform nine different source systems into one single view of the customer. The sheer complexity of multiple data sources was preventing them from developing meaningful insights and targeted communications. However, working with Salmat, they were able to consolidate multiple data sources to create a “Source of Truth”.
Often it is difficult to get a true whole of customer view from all the data in your organisation, but your customers are demanding it. So start now.
5. Don’t stop building
Getting insights from your data is a journey. And you can only continue along the journey if you keep building and maintaining your data. Determine what’s missing from your data. Explore ways to build in more integrity. Develop new acquisition strategies. The maintenance of your data will ensure that any analysis is unclouded and you keep create a single customer view you can rely on.
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