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How can marketers improve the customer experience through data?

Richard Jones Archive

When a company makes the conscious choice to sink time and money into direct marketing, it should always have a clear plan in mind for how analytical efforts will lead to tangible improvements. It's no small feat to collect more relevant pieces of consumer data, manage them better and put more effort into analyzing and learning from them.

The predominant way of thinking about consumer analytics is this: The end goal should be to improve the customer experience. When you collect information about people, you should do so with the aim to understand them better and deliver them personalized marketing messages and services they will appreciate. This should make patrons happier in the long run, which should yield numerous business benefits such as more sales now and a heightened level of customer loyalty later.

According to TechRepublic, using big data to improve customer relations effectively boils down to a three-step process. The primary steps that companies need to take are: first, to listen to individual consumer interactions; second, to learn from people's specific behaviors; and third, to execute personalized marketing campaigns that meet people's demonstrated needs.

The news source emphasized, though, that simply following those three steps isn't always enough. Companies should always be introspective and think critically about how they can improve their strategies. Luc Burgelman, CEO of consumer intelligence firm NGDATA, suggested that consumer-facing businesses should constantly be asking themselves big questions about how they can improve the customer experience, and furthermore, they should think about how big data analytics tools can help them answer those questions.

Below are a few examples of key issues that companies grapple with:

Who is likely to buy?
First and foremost, companies need to know who is most likely to buy their products. Armed with that information, they can deliver targeted marketing messages that go after the right people, and their sales teams can make pitches to potential buyers who promise the highest possible ROI. People's consuming tendencies vary wildly from one day to the next, so it's vital for retailers and other organizations to have comprehensive, timely information on who is making purchases in the here and now.

What products are they after?
Merchandising is a major challenge for sellers - they have all kinds of goods in their inventories, but they need to make carefully calculated decisions about what products to push, when and why. Burgelman suggests that companies use their customer to craft lists - perhaps "top 3" rundowns - of their most popular products that are likely to sell in any given day or week. This information can help merchants maximize their sales.

When and where can customer communications happen?
Communicating well with prospective customers should always be a primary goal, and these days, there is no shortage of high-tech options that businesses can use to keep in touch with people. Analytical thinkers should use the data at their fingertips to analyze not only how people communicate with their favorite brands - be it by phone, email or newfangled methods like mobile chats and social media platforms - but also when they prefer to get in touch. This information can shape every internal strategy from marketing content production to staffing decisions.

How can churn be prevented?
It's often said that it's cheaper to keep an existing customer than to recruit a new one, and for that reason, companies work hard to retain their current patrons and reduce churn. Business leaders today should be using their customer data to identify their most valued customers, detect signs of potential churn and prevent it from happening. This way, they can work toward their goals of greater customer loyalty and, ultimately, bigger profits.