Marketing in the age of Data for a New Customer

A huge element of data analytics, customer buying patterns and past history is making marketers arrive at a more precise conclusion on a customer’s buying pattern

By IBM
Updated: May 9, 2014 12:18:08 PM UTC

IBM has always been a company in a state of constant renewal and reinvention. Through economic upheavals and natural disasters, tech bubbles and recessions, it continues to engage clients, governments, local communities and universities to improve how the world works. Differentiated by values, strengthened by collaboration and experienced through the IBMer, today their solutions in Cloud, Big Data, Analytics, Mobility, Predictive Intelligence and others are making the world smarter. Through its Blog posts, IBMers will explore some essential areas of business and life that are deeply interlinked with technology and would like to invite all to share experiences and comments as it continues on this journey of discovery and innovation.

The Future of marketing with respect to digitization and the complexity of analytics that are required to make sense of the data are already dominating our lives. A number of examples come to mind when I think of how the art of classic marketing is changing with time and transforming itself to leverage technologies and drive a clear business benefit as well as customer engagement.

My Favorite example is one of the early engagements that Starbucks launched online called “My Starbucks Idea”. It was a continuous engagement for co creation where customers and prospects propose ideas for new products, packaging, marketing etc. These are rated by others and best ones are awarded as well as the company uses them to transform business. Acting on that information and doing it publicly are keys to the success of this campaign which has already generated 70,000 ideas. Thinking of ways to build your company is great. But directly asking your consumers what they want is better - indeed awesome!

Fiat Group Automobiles needed to determine the likelihood that future and returning customers would buy specific brands and models of Fiat cars, so that individual dealers could optimize the use of available marketing funds. The company also needed to better understand customer experience with dealerships and repair facilities. Using statistics, they were better able to determine the likelihood that a customer will purchase a specific brand and model and the related timing of the purchase. This improved customer response rate to marketing initiatives by 15% - 20 %, customer loyalty by 7% especially when customers are ready to replace their existing one.

In February 2012, The New York Times published an article by Charles Duhigg (Doo-hig) titled, “How Companies Learn Your Secrets”. The story simultaneously captured the future of marketing, some very interesting possibilities for all of us marketers and most importantly, chilling risks about the new responsibilities in this era.

Marketing is indeed finding a way to serve various customer needs even before the customer can voice his exact requirement. Marketing is leading to a pre-emptive action to impress upon the customer and result in a meaningful transaction. A huge element of data analytics, customer buying patterns and past history is making marketers arrive at a more precise conclusion on a customer’s buying pattern.

Today’s marketing practice requires building this ability to understand customers as individuals across millions of interactions. And it sets the conditions for marketing to play new roles in driving business success. The key capabilities that marketers need to understand customers as individuals include:

1. Instrumenting all the key touch points to gather the right data on each customer

2. Interconnecting social media data, other forms of digital data and transaction data to paint a more vivid picture of each customer.

3. Run the right analytics, at the right time, on the right customer to generate new ideas about whom to serve and how to best serve that individual.

4. Generate insights in real time that are predictive, not just historical.

5. Build the capability to do this on a massive scale.

We all see that there is an unprecedented amount of data being gathered at every meaningful touch point about each customer. The best brands are very strategic about which touch points get instrumented, and what kind of data emerges as the result. Question to ask: what is your clients’ instrumentation strategy?

The most skilled companies are combining social data, other web-based data and transaction data—and running precise analytics over them to gain new kinds of insights. In this world, the path to success is largely dependent on having comprehensive access to the data. You need to formulate these insights and strategies to discern the veracity of that data. Question to ask: what is your client’s strategy for attracting data? 

And finally, what is your customer’s next likely move—so they can appropriately pair their response with the next best offer, next best action, next need etc. Question to ask: how predictive must your clients’ insights about customers be in order to succeed in their competitive market?

 -  By Sindhu Srinivas, Practice Leader - Marketing Consulting & Services, IBM India/South Asia. In my next post, I will share with you how new age data tools are being leveraged to help brands interact better with customers.

(The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.)

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