So far in our series about winning customer loyalty, we’ve covered taking the customer experience from good to great, hyper-adoption and hyper-abandonment, and individualization. As we continue to expand upon our webinar featuring Forrester’s Brendan Witcher, we’re going to draw a connection between winning customer loyalty and data and analytics. Sure, data and analytics aren’t always considered the sexiest part of marketing, but they’re making a comeback.
Data and analytics are bringing sexy back because they’re the true differentiators between brands. Like we’ve mentioned in the previous articles in this series, customers are no longer comparing brands based on product, but instead, on their experience. People can find a replacement product with the click of a button, but the experience is what keeps customers coming back. The foundation for building a finely-tuned experience, however, is data and analytics.
“Customers will say, well, I don’t think this company has better fashion than these guys over here, but this company seems to get me more. They’ll use that kind of term. They ‘get me,’ they understand me, and they’ll give their loyalties because of that. In many ways, this is an overlooked but critical part of marketing, of creating experiences, of delivering value.” – Brendan Witcher
Data and analytics help crack the code for each individual customer, allowing marketing teams to connect on a more personal level. Truly understanding your audience is a powerful differentiator that helps brands stand out in a world of endless options. Let’s take a look at why data and analytics are becoming increasingly important and how they can help marketers create a more customized experience.
The Evolution of Customer Data
“Data and analytics” is somewhat vague. We’ve kept the term but the landscape of data and analytics in marketing has changed over the years. To start, today, we have access to boatloads of customer data. In the past, this wasn’t always the case. Before everything was digital, brands maybe had access to the customer’s name, address, phone number, and credit card. Now, we know where customers are as they move around, where they’re likely to shop, what products they’ve purchased in the past, what marketing channels they prefer—the list goes on.
With this onslaught of data comes the need to analyze it. Marketers need to find ways to organize and categorize the data to make the most out of what’s available. As mentioned in a recent Forbes article, “According to Gartner’s 2020 Marketing Data and Analytics Survey of more than 400 marketing leaders and analytics practitioners, 64% of analytics practitioners said that data management, data integration and data formatting are some of the top ways in which they spend their time.”
Not only do brands receive implied data from customer interactions, but they also get zero-party data directly from the customer. As McKinsey points out, “ [Customers] are far more likely to share personal data that are a necessary part of their interactions with organizations.“ But, just having the data isn’t enough. Taking the data and creating an actionable result is how brands can win customer loyalty.
Why It’s Important to Use Data and Analytics
Why are marketers spending so much time analyzing and dissecting the available data? Because what you, as marketers, do with that data is what sets your brand apart. If your brand has access to unique data, or data points that can be cross-referenced to reach unique conclusions about individual customers, that information needs to translate into actionable marketing messages.
“I have never been on a sales or an earnings call from any company ever, where somebody said, ‘We started saying ‘Happy birthday!” and sales went up 5%.’ That’s never happened…It doesn’t really make the customer change their behavior. ” – Brendan Witcher
Data gives brands a peek into each customer’s life. What would make their life easier? What do they love? What do they hate? With great power, however, comes great responsibility. Having this data means you have to actually use it. According to Merkle’s 2021 Customer Experience Sentiment Report, 76% of respondents said “they are more comfortable giving out their behavioral data to allow brands to enhance their experiences.” This increased from 71% in 2020. Having this data but not using it can erode trust between the customer and your brand.
How to Use Data and Analytics
So we know we have access to more customer data than ever before and having the data but not using it can cause distrust amongst customers, but let’s talk about what “using” data actually looks like.
Think about the variety of marketing channels your brand uses. There’s SMS, email, in-app messaging, push notifications, etc. Each time a customer interacts with your brand via a channel, there’s the opportunity to collect data. Did they open the email? Did they use the coupon we sent via SMS? What did they buy with that coupon? Your martech stack likely has tools for collecting this data, but going a step further and using it, in real-time, creates a highly personalized and individualized experience for every single customer.
Say, for example, your customer has bought a couple items from your online store but it’s been a while since they’ve revisited your site. You’ve been sending them emails and they aren’t opening them. To re-engage this customer, you create a workflow that says “if this customer doesn’t open an email within 30 days, we send them an SMS.” If they open the SMS, maybe you set the workflow to trigger a followup SMS with a coupon for an item that pairs well with an item they’ve purchased in the past.
Each interaction the customer has with your brand is an opportunity to collect more data and change their experience to make it as beneficial for the customer as possible—again, in real-time.
Using Data and Analytics Wins Customer Loyalty
The way brands are using data is the differentiator. You’re a customer too. You know that most brands today can gain access to at least some of your data. It’s what the brand does with that data that sets them apart. Taking, or asking for, customer data is good for your brand and understanding your audience, but the exchange of data needs to be mutually beneficial. Once you’ve shown your customers that you not only have their data, but are crafting unique experiences for them with it, they’ll be more likely to stick around.
To get more info on why data and analytics are making a comeback, watch the webinar.