Janet Low
Aug 4, 2015

Igniting customer connections demands a data strategy

Creating engaged and successful customer experiences begins with small steps, and proper data auditing, organisation and analysis, writes Janet Low, vice-president client services Asia-Pacific, Epsilon

Janet Low
Janet Low

The age of digital has made the marketer’s task of connecting with today’s consumer somewhat akin to herding cats. Our attention-deficit, mobile-toting audience has more content, entertainment, games and options than it could ever consume. The marketing landscape has also grown complicated with various media channels serving consumers on multiple devices. While the landscape is growing more diverse, the opportunities are endless. As marketers, one of our goals is to create the thread of connection that brings our brands closer to consumers. 

A tried-and-true case

Creating a robust, engaging customer experience is a significant but achievable challenge, one best attempted in small steps guided by a larger omni-channel strategy as evident in our work with a home-shopping retailer to develop its blueprint for a data strategy.

We started by investigating its data assets to uncover business opportunities. In the process, we found that 4.5 per cent of this retailer’s customer base drove 64 per cent of 2013 revenue. But 82 per cent of these premium customers were underperforming in second quarter of 2014. Most of these were one-time buyers, and the imperative to re-engage this group was obvious.

Through this investigative exercise, we learnt that while different functional teams within the organisation had the common goal of using data better, there were hurdles such as data siloes, differing definitions of data and customer value, as well as inefficient operational processes that produced duplication of customer accounts—and all needed to be addressed to clear the path for success. 

At the same time, we also discovered a wealth of customer data and existing tools that would make building a single customer view possible. The Epsilon team set out to design a data strategy that would produce quick wins for the retailer while building a foundation for sustainable data-driven marketing.

We took the first step of bringing together readily available offline and online data sets to create a holistic view of their customers’ shopping habits. It was necessary to start with data that we could easily access so we could show quick results. By marrying offline and online purchase data plus customer profile data, we were able to evolve the retailer’s segmentation scheme away from a product-based model to a value-centric model. In line with the business opportunity identified, we further segmented the customer base by likelihood to buy again.

With the new set of segments, we developed a pilot campaign to test customer response to a repeat purchase offer delivered through direct mail and email. The campaign drove an uplift of 36 per cent in purchase rate, and email was the clear winner in producing strong ROI.

Ignite your marketing efforts

Igniting customer connections is easier than some think. It often starts with a single spark: a new idea or simply the willingness to take that first step to change within the brand, the organisation, strategy or elsewhere.

Here are some ideas to ignite that fire:

  • Data strategy is not an IT-only function: As marketers, we are creators and consumers of data. Develop your data strategy and collaborate with IT to own that strategy which you will harness for actionable insights. Pace yourself and go for quick wins to garner buy-in and budget.
  • Integrate: data, systems, teams: Integration is the name of the game in this new age of marketing. You probably have data stored in various systems – e-commerce, shipping, returns, marketing campaigns, call centre. Bring them together. But it’s more than the data. Your technology ecosystem should be integrated for seamless exchange of data thereby enabling an equally seamless customer experience. And it is a team effort, as all groups must collaborate to develop a compelling customer experience across all touchpoints.
  • Content is your spark: If data is your fuel and technology your vehicle, then content is surely your spark plug for the emotional connection marketers are tasked with creating. Content creation requires heavy investment but with data insights and technology, relationship-building efforts are more cost-efficient and effective. Tag and track content well; ensure content is designed not just to render well on a mobile device, but also to capture implicit data about customer preferences. Use dynamic content delivery capabilities that are mainstream to most marketing solutions today.
  • Embrace test and learn: Don’t second-guess the audience. Instead, always test to find out what works and what does not.

The world is moving faster than ever. Savvy marketers need to rethink their approach to keep current with trends and technology to drive profitability and foster brand awareness. Investment in a data strategy goes a long way and starts with a data audit. Work on organising and analysing data, together with a rigorous testing plan—they are fundamental to a successful data strategy. 

Janet Low is vice-president of client services, Asia-Pacific, Epsilon


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