By Premjith B P K

Ten years ago, marketing was a departmental, sit-in-the-office affair. It was about planning the strategies, debating, and discussing campaign ideas and such subjective aspects. It was tilted towards a marketer’s ability to predict consumer behavior from memory rather than observing the actual consumer behavior.

Marketing today is more dynamic. Technology has changed the face of marketing. For one thing, we have no means to find the actual behavior of customers. The old-school approach of predicting customer behavior is now redundant. The time of real-time observation and deduction is here. It’s now about watching your customers, how they select your product, where they pause, where they hurry, their response after the purchase, etc.

The technologies that enable this are generally called data-driven technologies and help you to capture, analyze, and synthesize customer-generated data. Many tech-savvy organizations are already employing these technologies to frame their marketing strategies. Big data, mobile ad campaigns, and blockchain are the leading data-driven technologies. Among them, big data plays a significant role in steering decision making for customer-centric marketing.

Understanding Customer-Centric Marketing

It is always good to know more about what you are trying to achieve before you go around it. So, let’s first see what customer-centric marketing is all about. It will help us relate to data-driven technologies better.

The job of a marketing executive is to create synergy between acquiring new customers, retaining old customers, and at the same time, translate conversions. It can be summed up in the Venn diagram below:

Customer acquisition is like funneling. You attract a large number of people and some stay and some fly away. The numbers go thinner and thinner like the oil in the funnel, and at last, you have a fine thread of oil that actually goes into the bottle. Customer conversion is that last thin thread of oil, people who made it to the end to make a final purchase from you.

Customer retention is about retaining the oil in the bottle. A customer is a dynamic entity. His wishes, his expectations, his desires keep on changing. The only way to retain him, so that he sticks to your bottle is to engage him. Hence, customer-engagement and customer satisfaction are the essential factors in keeping your valuable list of customers intact.

What Is Data-Driven Marketing?

Let us now see how different modern data-driven marketing is from old-school marketing. Data-driven marketing is a closed-loop process, as depicted below:

Data-driven marketing is a cyclic process that relates your marketing strategy, sales data, and its analysis. For example, suppose you run a mobile app development company, and you have many custom solutions like taxi dispatch software, grocery delivery software, etc. Now, if you see a sudden increase in the clients who are demanding your custom taxi dispatch solution. The first question you need to ask is, “why are clients buying from us?” The second question is, “what did they buy from us?” The two questions yield data that help form a correlation between the sale of products and the role marketing played in it.

The insights from the analysis of customer interaction data then become the basis for refining the marketing strategy. As you can see, the data acts as a feedback loop to improve the current plan for the marketing executive. And since the data is directly coming from customers, the probability of success is enhanced many times.

Customer-Centric Marketing Techniques

There is no doubt that big data analytics helps to fine-tune your customer-centric marketing strategy. But the real question is on transforming the research data into executable actions for a marketing team.

The amount of data that a customer leaves on interaction with a website or app is enormous. For example, an average user today may have multiple devices. She may have an android and iPhone. The complexity is further doubled when the same customer has multiple accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, and other social media platforms.

The real difficulty in all this is to bridge the gap between research findings and marketing decision-making to leverage it. But there are some techniques which can help you develop customer-centric business habits and make such decisions by utilizing the data in hand. Let’s look at them one by one.

1. Customer Journey Mapping

It is a technique to trace the complete journey of a customer when they interact with your website or application. It aids you in identifying, structuring and smoothing the hurdles a customer faces with your brand. Every data that a customer leaves in his interaction through the multiple platforms becomes a building block for your customer journey mapping activity. Hence, it is a very useful tool in your journey towards being a customer-centric company.

You can find many guides to create a customer journey map on the internet. But the key things to focus on creating a journey map are:

  • Keep your approach simple
  • Create personas based on reliable data and not predict blindly
  • Consider the internal factors
  • Sharing it with internal stakeholders who really face the customers

2. Data Aggregation

Remin is a designer with a passion for trekking. Suppose you are a sporting goods retailer and have an e-commerce app for your brand. Remin is looking for hiking shoes and has a history of purchases with your e-commerce app. It means you have substantial data with you to provide Remin with a set of choices that are more likely to make real conversions.

You know from his purchasing history that he prefers premium brands over mid-term and value brands. Then you can show him a list of premium brand hiking shoes. Also, the price range in which he usually seals the deal helps you to refine the list further. Add this to the numerous data inputs like his favorite color, the design that attracts him, and offers he goes for, his banking company, etc. makes for a host of opportunity to make Remin’s shopping experience fantastic.

3. Behavioral Segmentation

Customer behavior is translated into data when a customer engages with a brand through a medium.

If Remin, Ria, and Tom are regularly redeeming coupons, then you can classify them into a pool. Some customers like to show gratitude through gifts, and others could be last-minute shoppers. The list and classification can go on and on. The ability to create more classifications and categories to place customers appropriately is the prime role of a marketer.  

Segregation of behavioral aspects makes large chunks of data into workable and actionable points for your marketing team. So it counts as one of the essential data pruning techniques in data-driven marketing.

4. Track Events

Every action, small or big, counts as an engaging event. It is where a customer reveals a part of himself to you. It would be best if you tapped in on the games to generate valuable insights for future strategies.

An event could be a click, small swipe, tap on the mobile device, playing videos, adding products to cart, liking and sharing ads, posts, etc. on Facebook, tweeting about a purchase, mailing to say “thank you for the quick delivery” and much more.  

There is no shortage to the number of events. It can include direct, visible actions or could be indirect ones. How you make it meaningful reflects your marketing expertise. For example, companies are today employing tools like Hotjar to get customer heat maps to outline the areas where a site visitor lingers the most. It provides insights into minute things like what attracted users, what caused users to leave the site, which content engaged them, and so on.

The Future Marketing

Data-driven technology and their applications are becoming more and more pervasive in marketing. E-commerce websites, online grocery stores, small and big businesses are all using data analytics to provide a personalized user experience. The logic today is the more the customer feels at home, the more they stay with you. Hence, the time is now right for innovative marketing executives to harness the valuable data that customers leave and convert them into actionable marketing strategies that are customer-centric.