Why marketing professionals should use analytics

In recent years, being a chief marketing officer (CMO) has become much more challenging due to the digitizing market. New data sources give new insights into customer behaviour and the customer experience.

“We can distinguish four main new data streams: mobile data, social data, online data and sensor data (Internet of Things). Mobile data, for example, can give us more information about the customer’s location, social data give us a glimpse into the customer’s emotional world, online data can tell us something about their buying habits and sensors in machines tell us something about their actual behaviour: how often do they use their washing machine, or what is their driving style? There’s a whole new set of data available for marketing purposes, whereby the technical collection of the data isn’t the difficulty. The challenge is to get the right insights and to utilize that information effectively,” comments Mieke De Ketelaere, Director Customer Intelligence, SAS Southwest Europe.

Analytics can help to unlock the data in a good way, says Mieke de Ketelaere: “Digital data aren’t always as easy to understand as transactional data. If a customer clicks on an image on your website, does that mean that they are interested in buying the product, or do they just like the photo? Analytics creates actionable insights. Besides, analytics are able to filter the interference out of the communication flow. Suppose that, as I’m standing at the entrance to a clothing store, I send a message to my friend arranging to go to the movies. That isn’t relevant information for the clothing store. But if I send a message to my friend saying that I’m a huge fan of that particular store’s summer collection, then that’s important information for the retailer to capture. And if I send that message while I’m actually in the store, that should trigger a direct action in response.”

In addition to getting real-time contextual insights into customer behaviour, marketers have to cope with plenty of other challenges nowadays, such as finding the right balance between customer service and marketing, dealing with a non-linear customer journey and allocating the marketing budgets in the best possible way. We at SAS believe that data and analytics support all those marketing concerns.

360° customer view

The downside of a heavily information-driven society is that consumers are overloaded with inspirations and it is becoming increasingly difficult to grab their attention. Customers are tired of obtrusive push notifications. Marketing has to become smarter, says De Ketelaere: “Marketers have to find the right balance between customer service and marketing – by mixing customer service communication with smarter marketing messages, for instance. If the customer ordered a product online and it subsequently becomes apparent that the product isn’t available, then it’s Customer Service’s task to inform the customer. But conversion numbers also show that’s a good moment to promote some alternative products, ones that are similar to what the customer ordered. The customer will find this less intrusive than a standard marketing communication activity.”

The new data streams mentioned above will help companies to improve the overall customer experience and will support the integration of marketing and customer service touchpoints. Think of a location-based app that sorts the product on a digital shopping list on the basis of the store layout. “Only 10% of consumers currently agree to share location-based data. Adding value for the customer significantly increases their willingness to share location data,” states De Ketelaere.

In the digital era, the consumer is like an emperor who rules over an empire of brands. The customers decide when they want to buy and which channel they use to do so. Organizations need a 360° customer view that transcends the different channels. “If a customer complains about a bad customer experience via both email and Facebook, he should only receive one compensation voucher rather than two, but many companies currently lack cross-channel alignment. Everyone agrees that a customer-centric approach is necessary, but most organizations are still channel-centric. That’s a mismatch.”

The non-linear customer journey

Up until now, marketing departments have typically distinguished between two different types of marketers: performance marketers and direct marketers. But the strong growth of digital data is blurring the boundaries between the two, says Mieke De Ketelaere: “A good example of the blurring of channel borders is when a consumer scans a QR code on a billboard. The performance marketers are responsible for the billboard campaign, whilst the direct marketers are campaigning with specific customer data.”

Due to the arrival of the digital data streams, it’s now possible to follow the customers during their complete journey. This also allows us to redefine customer loyalty. Loyalty should go further than merely collecting loyalty points on the customer card. Instead, marketing should interact at every touchpoint on the customer journey with the right message. Only then can you be sure that the customers will continue their journey with your brand. That’s a huge challenge for CMOs, and this is where data and analytics is really paying off.

More complex attribution of budgets

The CMO’s main objective is to generate more sales via efficient marketing campaigns. Over the years – as the number of channels has increased – it has become ever-more difficult to attribute results to budgets. “After all, everyone claims responsibility for sales. If a customer buys a lawnmower at a DIY shop, who’s responsible for that? The ones who made a beautiful catalogue? The direct marketer who sent the customer a promotional mail? Or the online marketers who built an easy-to-use website? Data and analytics make it possible to understand and to govern all touchpoints and hence gain a good insight into the impact of the budget spent on the customer’s journey. It allows the CMO to check which marketing mix has the highest impact. Data and analytics enable one of our customers – a large theme park – to see that Google Display gave them no uplift. That helped them decide to allocate their marketing budget differently,” explains De Ketelaere.

She concludes: “Analytics can open the door to more customer-centric, effective marketing campaigns.”