With more than 2.8 billion Internet and 5.3 billion mobile users across the globe, effectively engaging with customers on a personal level is a huge challenge for businesses of all kinds. With hundreds of marketing messages all vying for attention from the same audience, marketing executives are constantly asking themselves how to create meaningful relationships in an increasingly dynamic digital community.
Consumers are demanding more personalized marketing. They expect every brand to offer the same level of service as Amazon or Netflix. In fact, 86 percent report that personalization impacts whether or not they make a purchase. Such personalization can create emotional attachments to brands, driving engagement, conversions, and ultimately loyalty.
However, marketers have struggled to develop meaningful, personalized communication that drives interaction – frequently turning to broad demographic buckets and poorly targeted automation campaigns in an effort to segment and personalize communications. Companies must find smarter ways to engage with customers.
The only way to really create powerful relationships is to truly know individual customers. Name, email address, and birthdate aren’t even scratching the surface. What do individual customers like and dislike? When and how are they receiving information? Do they prefer a mobile site, a game, a social media message? Which products do they purchase? How frequently? How inclined are they to share brand experiences online? Only with this knowledge can companies identify the best ways to intimately engage with customers in a transparent way, one that fosters loyalty and brand evangelism.
Connecting the data dots
Currently, companies define and segment their audiences in silos. Information technology teams, customer service representatives, and digital marketers all record data such as demographics, purchase orders, click-throughs, open rates, and products searched and shared online. Yet, these teams rarely interact, leaving gaping holes in customer profiles that make meaningful, personalized engagement impossible.
Businesses need complete pictures of their customers to better understand them – which channels they use to communicate, what types of messages they most frequently respond to, what they search for, their purchase (and return) history, comments made online, and customer service requests, and social shares. That’s what big data 2.0 is about. All of this information must be integrated.
Five users – one customer
From mobile app users and website shoppers to customer service callers, product raters and social media sharers – if a brand’s customer profiles are kept in silos, all of these interactions will result in separate customer profiles. But in fact all five interactions may tie back to a single customer. Experience, engagement, and loyalty go hand-in-hand with customer identity. Website greetings, e-newsletters, social media campaigns, and customer service chats can damage brands if they aren’t cohesive and intelligent enough to interest your customers.
A user who logged in to your website using a smartphone will appreciate being remembered when returning to your website via a laptop to purchase the item previously added to his or her cart. Likewise, a customer service representative who can easily see this purchase history can be more efficient in providing assistance than a representative not armed with the same valuable customer insight.
This kind of integration will make all the difference between viewing each of your audience members as an IP address or an actual person.
Retention beats acquisition 5-to-1
Who do you consider the most loyal? The friend who knows you intimately, or the one who only knows the side of you shared on Facebook (News - Alert)? Brands, too, are rewarded for such intimate knowledge, and loyalty pays.
Consider that the likelihood of an existing customer making a purchase is 60 to 70 percent, while the likelihood of a new customer doing the same is less than 20 percent. It’s clear that gaining an intimate understanding of customers, and using that knowledge to engage them with the right message sent in the right way at the right time, is critical in building loyalty.
Smart brands are giving their customers personal attention by fusing data silos to create a complete user profile, and they are reaping the rewards. Organizations that are leaders in data-driven marketing are almost three times more likely than laggards to have increased revenues, according to recent research by Forbes. These same leaders are also three times more likely to recognize competitive advantages in customer engagement and loyalty.
In an increasingly cluttered market, information is the only way to stand out from competition, and turning those insights into customer-centric communication will drive long-term loyalty. Meaningful engagement matters when it comes to building brand loyalty – so it’s time to get personal with your customers to drive sustainable relationships.
Stefan Koenig is co-founder and CEO of Hull (www.hull.io).
Edited by Kyle Piscioniere