It has been a while since marketing teams started collecting and analysing data to find out more about their target audiences. Until recent times, data collection was quite rudimentary in nature such as collecting personal information, location, demographics, etc. from social media or sign-up forms on websites mostly. However, things have changed now, and consumers are using a plethora of devices, mobile apps and social media tools. All of these have jointly created vast reservoirs of consumer data for the marketers to dive in and explore meaningful insights.
The 21st-century marketers are increasingly adopting data-centric tools to derive maximum usable inputs. A survey indicates that about 64% of respondents “strongly agree” about data-driven marketing to be critical to success in the keenly contested global retail ecosystem.
The tools used by brands are aimed at engaging their target audiences and these tools are becoming extremely sophisticated. Today’s marketers have a lot more knowledge to ensure that the customers become their top priority. Tools such as Brand Intelligence Solutions, CRM Systems, Consumer Intelligence tools and other Big Data tools are all helping businesses today. All of these data and analytics tools and systems that empower organizations to optimally handle the data and effectively understand customers through their online behaviour. Hence, brands are now in a position to precisely target customers at each stage of their journey with relevant and well-timed messages.
For example, how would you feel if your online retailer offers you discount coupons to apply just before the check-out stage?
The prospect of buying at a lower price is likely to result in more conversions at that stage. At the same time, if you received the same discount coupon offer after you clicked, ‘Pay’, it would probably ruin the whole experience.
Challenges in implementing Data Driven Marketing
Integrating and optimally leveraging any new and disruptive technology is accompanied by challenges and data driven marketing also has these teething concerns. The biggest challenges faced by retail brands are:
1. What technology to use–Big data analytics is still in a nascent stage. In fact, a study revealed that only about a third of the companies consider themselves to be inadequately equipped to handle data due to lack of technological clarity and coordination.
2. How to get actionable insights from data mountains – Courtesy of the multiple devices, apps and social media platforms, companies can often get humongous data volumes.However, they struggle to analyse the data and find relevant and actionable insights from that data.
3. Complex technology – While it is imperative for a marketing team to be constantly aware of the latest trends and tools, however, most marketers are unlikely to be technology experts. Quite often the complex nature of the available tools and processes proves to be too difficult for them to use effectively.
4. Other challenges – Quite often, the multi-channel data collection also results in data being stored with different vendors, tools and platforms scattered all over. This creates a challenge to effectively use and integrate this data. Infrequent bursts of messaging to consumers and time-consuming metrics can also prove to be discouraging.
Making the best use of data-driven marketing processes
Here are the major steps that can enable retail entities to yield maximum output from their data:
1. Stick to the plan
It is never easy to change, no matter whether an organization is small or a major global enterprise. This applies to integration of the data driven marketing strategy too. Therefore, the shift has to be cross-functional and from top to bottom. The companies need to dedicate time and resources required to make this work. Any haphazardly taken approach is unlikely to succeed.
2. Integration and automation
It’s already elaborated that the huge data volumes being churned on a daily basis can overwhelm the most capable marketing teams to sort or analyze. Therefore, scalable automation and technology integration is essential for the marketing team to create an evolved ‘buyer persona.’ A lot of retailers also have the added data integration from their physical outlets, leveraging the customers’ social media and mobile shopping patterns. Implementation of latest and more robust automation tools into their plans, marketers can free up a lot of time that is spent on data analytics. This time can then be used to create advanced and highly personalized marketing campaigns.
3. Put together a great team
As discussed above, data analytics might necessitate advanced technical skills which a regular marketer might not have. Teams have to be cross functional and encompassing various departments of the company. It doesn’t mean patching up anybody from the IT team who has some time to spare with any available marketing or sales person to create the data driven marketing plan. On the contrary, it requires finding and pooling together human resources who are ready to think from a company perspective and not just focused on covering their expertise. A hybrid team of data scientists, sales and marketing personnel inclined towards technology have to be grouped and such a cross-functional collaborative effort is key to success.
4. Work Across Departments
Setting up cross-functional teams is only a part of the strategy. The other part is to ensure data is seamlessly integrated across departments. The availability of high-quality data integration is essential for the success of data driven marketing strategy.
5. Rival watch
While the core focus should remain on one’s own strategies and plans, it is important to stay updated about what competition is doing. Marketers also need to be mindful of the breakthroughs and trends in the market.
6. Constant analysis
Data-driven marketing enables non-stop and precise marketing campaign evaluation. This will help in keeping brand focus intact and also improve ROI as well as achievement of campaign goals.
It is estimated that the global retail industry size would reach $27.2 trillion by 2020. This means clearly present opportunities for the retailers. Retail marketers must be aware of the fact that data is the key to delivering omnichannel experience that leads to relevant, personalised and seamless customer experience. They must benefit from a unified customer dataset that can be processed in real time.
The article has been penned down by Jash Choraria, Founder, Unifynd.