How well do you know your customer?
You may think you know your customer, but what is your understanding based on? Contributor Evan Magliocca lays out some of the ways brands' insights fall short.
I hate to break it to you, but you don’t know your customers as well as you think you do. A marketer’s understanding of a customer is usually an ideal view pushed by the brand team — an aspirational view that everyone believes. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
You may even be able to spit out stats like average order value, or units per transaction, but that knowledge is narrow, the insights are few and the result is overconfident marketing built on a foundation of self-fulfilling, internal Kool-Aid drinking that completely misses connection and alignment with real customers.
We have to break down that wall before we can move forward. It’s important to consider what you actually know to be fact and why you know it. It’s easy for a spouted statistic to become a brand commandment, or for a survey that provides a complete and holistic view of your customer to quickly become the concrete and unassailable truth. So how do you separate fact from fiction?
Data warehousing is a hot-button topic right now, with brands making large investments as they play catch-up to their early-adopting peers or enhance data types. It’s an important step forward for marketing that was previously considered more art than science. Even so, capturing data isn’t enough because data is reliant on the lowest common denominator.
Data is fragmented: Every type has different sources, capabilities and levels of sophistication. When data sources come together, the resulting pool is only as good as the weakest data source.
Finding the baseline can be challenging, and it’s even harder considering each team is often pushing for different levels of sophistication. While some channel managers may be investing heavily in their areas, others may not be. It takes an honest internal view of data health to understand if investments are going to the right places and to ensure you’re making the best use of those dollars across the business, not just in a silo.
Let’s say your data is accurate and integrated across all marketing vehicles with the sophisticated data types to retrieve in-depth information about customers. How do you read it? Who is performing the analysis?
Analytics teams are stretched extremely thin. Brands have inner sources of frustration as localized projects and those that lack the “business-critical” moniker are being pushed to the side. The bandwidth simply doesn’t exist to give each team the desired level of analysis that they need to be effective in producing fact-based marketing decisions.
It then falls on product owners and channel marketing analysts to produce the insights themselves. While this workflow can be productive for short-term projects, the analyses are inevitably influenced by their individual goals and performance indicators — not those of the business as a whole. Those analyses have a foundational bias that lacks scope and is motivated by a microcosm of project-specific goals.
There are two options to solve the crisis that analytics teams face. The first — and most likely the best — option is to invest in that internal team. Provide it with the resources needed to produce the desired level of analysis and guidance for business-critical projects, cross-channel campaigns and channel-specific tactics.
The second option is to find an unbiased outside source to produce a complete customer profile. Customer profiles should be comprehensive; they span every marketing channel and provide the level of depth each marketer needs, so that companies may understand how customers are interacting within their marketing vehicle and how that differs from others. Profiles effectively provide the information you need to actually know your customers. More importantly, profiles are effective because they’re not based on fluff — they’re founded on transactions and customer interactions.
Customer profiles provide the data necessary for actionable intelligence. They unlock the full knowledge of your customers’ behaviors across the spectrum of segments, from best customers to one-and-dones.
Understanding the spectrum of your customer base isn’t easy — especially when it comes to managing and analyzing data. One solution is to find a trusted partner to organize and manage data to produce insights so that you don’t need to invest heavily in building internal infrastructure, which often takes years to complete.
Reducing reliance on fragmented analysis is also important in producing a holistic understanding of your customer and the intricacies that flow from channel to channel that often get missed.
Bringing it all together in a comprehensive customer analysis — instead of fragmented performance indicators — may provide the insights your teams need to produce fact-based strategies that act in unison, driving business goals to new heights.