Previously on this blog, we talked about what has changed in marketing during the last two decades. I introduced four key issues that successful marketing organisations need to get across: the rise of social and mobile; the digitisation of everything and the behavioural insight that results from making the journey from transactions to interactions; the expectations that millennials, in particular, have for customer service; and how social media means you don’t own your brand like you used to. In this final instalment, I want to talk about what has stayed the same in customer-centric marketing.
The one thing that hasn’t changed in the last two decades is the importance of integrated data for segmenting customers, understanding their behaviours, and quantifying their wants and needs.
You want to listen to the customer
If you want to listen to the customer, you need to understand the reviews that she has written online, to analyse the tweets she’s posted that include one of your hashtags, to understand what she has told the call centre agent, to know what she has just done online — plus what she didn’t do when she was offline in the store yesterday.
There are more sources of data available than ever, and some are more complex to acquire, wrangle, manage, and analyse than others. As some attendees at the recent Future of Marketing event pointed out, integrating new sources of data at the customer level is often difficult or impossible because of the way that channels like Facebook operate. That platform in particular often requires that you indicate the segments you wish to target. Facebook will then count the clicks and bill you, but won’t necessarily tell you who viewed your content.
The introduction of GDPR also has important implications for marketers — a topic of lively debate at the meeting at Oxford Saïd Business School.
You need to integrate data
But to have any hope of connecting those dots and understanding the bigger picture, you still need to integrate data across as many channels as you can. There may be many more channels today, but the fundamentals of customer-centric marketing are still the same as they were when Don Peppers and Martha Rogers first wrote "The One to One Future" way back in 1993: Products and channels are merely means; knowing thine customer is the end goal. Uou only really know your customers when you understand each and every interaction they have with your brand, regardless of touchpoint.
Within data integration too, names have come and gone. We used to speak about ‘CRM data marts’, then about ‘customer data warehouses’. Now — especially where high-volume, multi-structured interaction data like weblogs and call centre agent notes are concerned — we often speak about a ‘data lake’ as part of a ‘logical data warehouse’.
Whatever you call it (and it will probably always be the single view of customer (SVOC) to an old-timer like me), an integrated view of demographic, transaction, and now interaction data has never been more important. With that data foundation in place, many things become possible. Without it, almost everything worthwhile is impossible.
Why should I listen to a data guy when it comes to marketing?
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Well he would say that, wouldn’t he? After all, he’s a data guy. And he works for a data company”.
A single data point is anecdote, not evidence. But let me offer you a relevant anecdote anyway. I was speaking to a venture capitalist at a conference recently who is currently concentrating on the FinTech sector. We talked for a while about the changes taking place in financial services, the part that FinTechs are playing in making those changes, and the things that come easier to the FinTechs than perhaps they do to the big banks. I asked him, “So what do the big banks have that you don’t?” He smiled at me as if I had just asked the most obvious question in the world. His answer? “Two things: a banking license, and all that data about their customers!”
You see, despite everything that has changed in marketing in the last 20 years, it really is still all about the data.