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Driving agile decisions through data collection

Published: Monday, 25 April 2016 by Katharine Hulls, VP Marketing
Digital Intelligence

It’s becoming ever clearer that today’s tech savvy consumers have high expectations when it comes to both brand personalisation and the quality of interaction. It is also clear that if the consumer feels ‘failed’ by a brand - that needs aren’t met or they have been bombarded with spam by third parties – then they are not afraid to take action. In fact, our recent research project (European attitudes towards personalisation & privacy: The Consumer View) into the attitudes towards personalisation and privacy in the UK and Germany highlighted that consumers have a strong negative reaction to poorly personalised experiences, such as the receipt of an offer on a product already purchased – with 77% insisting they would take action in response. With customers sharing valuable insight about their preferences it is crucial that this data collection is treated with the respect it deserves.

Brands can feel that they face a battle when it comes to delivering an accurate and relevant personalised experience to consumers In fact, the previous blogs in this four part series highlighted how the ever demanding consumer is now able to engage with brands via a plethora of devices, and therefore expect a true 1:1 personalised experience every time, it is only those brands that can offer this approach that will win their custom. So, with the speed of online interaction and intensity of consumer demands coupled with the complexities of omni-channel there is an increased need for organisations to form a truly agile marketing strategy, one that can adapt at the speed set by the increasingly savvy consumer. In order to be able to do this, brands must be open to testing their strategy in advance, and equally open to the possibility of failing! While this generally sounds incredibly scary to senior management – who likes to fail or set themselves up for a fall? – constant change is essential. Strategies must continuously be implemented and tested in order to find a winning formula.

But organisations must also understand the customer data that they are handling – having vast amounts of rich data at their fingertips can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, in that brands can potentially develop a really rich, in-depth understanding of each individual customer to deliver the type of experience they demand today, and a curse because when it comes to deciphering the data and generating actionable intelligence it can feel overwhelming. For example, even what sounds like a relatively simple task of combining offline data with online to achieve that much coveted 360 degree single customer view can feel like a mountain. So how can this be achieved without Herculean effort?

Firstly a centralised approach should be considered. With a single source of data collection brands can be sure that they are working with not only a consistent, but also a highly granular dataset, rather than relying on trying to merge disparate sets of data from a potentially wide variety of sources. Once there is data consistency and clarity, the data should then be put into the hands of the decision makers throughout the business and constantly used to inform decisions - whether that is making long-term decisions such as product planning using website interaction behaviour to indicate latent demand, tactical decisions such as in-store merchandising on any given afternoon based on online product browse and purchase behaviour  that morning, or complex decisions such as price optimisation and revenue management based on the ordering and booking of flight option for a specific high value route. Data collection is critical and should be the driving force behind all decisions.

While this sounds like a no brainer to many of us in the industry of data, there are huge numbers of brands that are not yet siphoning the granular detail from the data and so not getting maximum value from it. Just consider the power of using data about the best-selling products to drive both online and in store activity. Give store managers that information by 11am and they can adapt window displays. Give the same insight to digital marketers too and they can adjust email subject lines to reinforce this consistent messaging and maximise sales.  Or equip your customer services team with information about which particular customers have dropped off the website after receiving an error message and they can proactively contact them to apologise and help them, so improve the customer experience.  Now that’s starting to be a truly joined up and agile approach!

Forward-thinking brands are putting good quality, comprehensive real-time data at the heart of their organisation. It is no longer about looking at the numbers and reacting a week later. Those organisations that have an agile approach, can react at the speed of the consumer, real-time or otherwise, and achieve the flexibility needed to be winners in this customer driven marketplace.

The path to the future of marketing is no longer single track and one way – it has become a roaring motorway that twists and turns at a moment’s notice. For brands to become agile, and appeal to the customer on that true one-to-one level regardless of device, channel or time, they need a culture, structure and technology to be able to drive the marketing activity fast, avoiding crashing through failure to respond and ensuring that customers are receiving the experience that they now demand.

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