Keeping Customers – and Data – at the Heart of Everything You Do

Data, data, everywhere. Last week I talked about the explosion of Martech solutions out there to help marketers capture and harness all of that data that helps us to keep customers at the center of what we do.

As it turns out, that stat has been updated, going from 5,381 options in 2017 to 6,829 marketing technology solutions this year (with 6,242 unique technology vendors).

If you would like to take a look at them, or to check out a cool supergraphic, will provide you with a downloadable Excel file in exchange for your email address. (Smart marketing?) The vendor classifications include: Advertising & Promotion, Content & Experience, Social & Relationships, Commerce & Sales, Data and Management.

Clearly, you need data and/or tech geeks on your team to help you cut through the clutter that comes with so many options (we can help!), and to assist with keeping your customer data at the center of your marketing. Once you have the right people in place, be sure that automation is incorporated into your strategy.

You must automate
The desire to manage the customer’s expectation of a consistent brand experience is also driving the development of automation, and budgets as well. Automation can’t be accomplished without collecting and harnessing data. If you are going to compete, numbers must be your friend.

Many industries in the U.S. have started to use automation to harness technology and streamline their marketing. Here are some of the top priorities today:

  • Automated email marketing helps companies nurture their audience with well-timed personalized messages for birthdays, anniversaries. etc. This is low-hanging fruit you must take advantage of if you aren’t already.
  • Set up communications based on pre-defined triggers like demographics, behaviors, or abandoned shopping cart reminders.
  • Advertising automation and optimization (with the explosion of Artificial Intelligence) are becoming more popular. AI has also paved the way for more and more companies to utilize chat bots for service and assisting in sales, and content personalization.
  • Though not easy, you must implement customer relationship management (CRM) automation systems where everything maps together, providing seamless use of customer data.
  • Implement (or find partners who provide) software that delivers impactful, relevant, and personalized communications through multiple channels.

Automated workflows do present great opportunities. Regardless of the what the word implies – automation – you can’t just “set it and forget it.” It isn’t automatic forever, and these systems require ongoing focus and investment in order to keep producing the intended results that your investment should bring. Done correctly, it should bring you double or triple the sales, without investing in a bigger salesforce.

Is customer acquisition your focus?
The second most important objective for marketers to achieve in 2018 reports the Data & Marketing Association Fact Book is to acquire new customers. Considering which channels are best to communicate to existing customers, year after year, email marketing continues to be the hero, providing the best ROI for reaching an audience.

However, and this is a big however – when it comes to prospecting, or the ability to tie analytics to acquisition, email simply cannot deliver what direct mail can. Looking over 2017 and the 2018 edition of the DMA Stat Book, there is an upward trend. In fact, going as far back as 2015, existing customer response rates to direct mail have increased 37%, but prospect rates more than doubledrevealing a 190% increase.

Why? Because direct mail has the ability to segment and harness real-time transactional data, optimizing lists to identify the best prospects to acquire.

Direct mail is a must for supplementing your current email marketing if you want to reach prospects. It’s also worth noting that offline marketing spend in 2017 for direct mail was $44.2 billion, coming in second to teleservices at $45 billion.

Why shouldn’t it be a given that all traditional, innovative and emerging technologies combine to create stunning digital and print marketing for a lasting impression? Use it this critical combo to keep and acquire new customers every step of the way. Make it your Q4 priority if you haven’t already.

In the end, it all goes back to your customer data, and it should be at the heart of everything you do. Putting that data at the center is what will drive results.