How Big Data enables a customer-centric marketing process

Customers already are demanding that brands treat them as individuals. As customer response rates continue to fall across channels, forward-leaning marketers will corral and harness all possible data to optimize their mix of channels, content and campaigns around the customer. Data-driven marketers no longer will be limited to traditional direct silos, but will be dependent on a blend of data across the entire marketing process to develop a more realistic view of customer relationships and purchase cycles. The following diagram shows how data will be at the core of every step of a customer-centric marketing process.

Data-driven marketing process wheel

A data-driven marketing process should consist of the following phases:

Capture: With ubiquitous digital interaction, virtually every engagement between customer and brand can be tracked. Exposing this complete behavioral trail illuminates former blind spots along the path to purchase, which may look more like a flight plan than a step-by-step funnel. Marketers will ensure that all campaigns, content and collateral are designed so that interaction always can be traced back to the customer.

Linkage: Linkage references the creation of integrated customer profiles. The growth of data poses a conundrum; it enables combinations never before possible, but it also makes the process of bringing it together much more complex, or at least laborious and taxing to antiquated technology stacks. To create a true 360-degree view, data-driven marketers will learn to link the streams of data from all sources, such as Customer Relationship Management systems, customer databases, point-of-sale systems, call centers, customer response, social media networks and other online data aggregators.

Analysis: Big Data creates a boundless landscape for exploration and discovery. Capitalizing on this will transform data-driven marketers from being Recency, Frequency, Monetary (RFM) style practitioners to full-blown data scientists. The work in their laboratories will produce new insights, illuminating the interplay of content, channel, campaign and customer interaction with purchase decisions and timing.

Planning: Crafting narratives with customers, unlike cascaded blast campaigns, requires the ability to create narrow audiences anchored on points of common interests and behaviors. The growth of data enriches the customer view, covering everything from search terms, Facebook likes and pages clicked to coupons redeemed and items purchased and any other customer interaction that can be tracked and stored. Marketers will tap into these micro-attributes to create highly targeted audiences and segments so they can converse with greater relevance.

Execution: Big Data is going to upset the media apple cart. Traditional approaches depend on audience estimation for channel and property selection in the hopes of hitting a target. Big Data optimizes marketing spend, as specific customers can be targeted and engaged regardless of where they are seen across channels. As addressable inventory becomes more accessible, marketing budgets will follow.

Measurement: The adage “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” has been aptly applied to marketing for years. The correlation between impression or touch and purchase is not always clear. The growth of data helps address this by putting more pins on the map that facilitate connecting specific campaigns and identifiable touches to an individual customer. Data-driven marketers will use these pins to create a measurement framework that helps marketers build a connection between spend and revenue creation.

The practice of using data in marketing to improve targeting, drive relevancy and personalize messages is not new. However, as marketers evolve away from a one-way broadcast model to more customer-centric strategies, the real challenge ahead will be figuring out how to manage all the data captured at every customer touch-point so that it can be easily leveraged to optimize marketing interactions across all channels. If effectively managed through a combination of innovative cross-channel marketing technology and integrated processes, Big Data will be the catalyst toward true cross-channel optimization.

For more information on how you can manage Big Data for cross-channel optimization, download the Experian Marketing Services 2013 Big Data planning guide for marketers

Learn more about cross-channel marketing