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Marketing and IT Sittin’ in a Tree
F-I-N-D-I-N-G [great customer insights]


The two worlds of IT and marketing are changing rapidly, both experiencing technological advances at never-before-seen rates. IT is tasked with orchestrating exponentially more data than ever before, in more complex formats, while evaluating if their current suite of platforms and systems are capable of doing the job. Marketing is pressured to show an ROI on every dollar spent, including traditional direct marketing and print ads, while advancing into all digital avenues. While these teams have very distinct responsibilities, it’s no longer the case that their worlds can be isolated. As IT and marketing are maturing in this digital age, their paths are actually converging. IT and marketing, thanks to data, have become one in the most advanced organizations, and they need to become one at yours, too.

The IT Side

IT may be best known as the “keeper of the data.” In a previous day and age this offered less of a hindrance to other departments in an organization, but today every business unit is awakening to the realization that they need data to do their jobs most effectively. This includes evaluating how to do more advanced analytics.

Okay, what is advanced analytics, really? Gartner defines advanced analytics as the “examination of data or content using sophisticated techniques and tools, typically beyond those of traditional business intelligence (BI), to discover deeper insights, make predictions, or generate recommendations.”

Whew. Got all that? It’s advanced, indeed: sophisticated, beyond traditional BI, deeper insights, predictions and recommendations. Done with new tools like machine learning, cluster analysis, and neural networks.

Data today requires highly-skilled experts to dive in, determine what data is useful and necessary, develop algorithms to analyze it accurately, and interpret and implement the outcomes.

But to be able to do this, the data needs to be accessible, and bypassing IT to create a shortcut to your data will eventually come back to bite you. Incorporating IT into your project planning from the beginning will help ensure that systems are configured with long-term goals in mind and that your business goals will be the cornerstone for architectural considerations.

The Marketing Side

Marketing is feeling more and more pressure to tie concrete returns to their marketing spend.  Campaigns from the past may have been able to get by with flashy ads or dynamic visuals alone, but in today’s world, a lack of foundational understanding of your customers and what they want will leave even the prettiest creative falling flat.

What is marketing? It’s certainly more than Google Ads and Facebook posts. According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

It’s all about value. That’s a tall order, and it takes an experienced marketing professional and a true understanding of what your customer finds valuable to make it happen. It seems impossible not to use your data to market effectively and create value, right? Yet many companies are attempting just that.

A survey revealed that only 10% of top marketing and IT executives believe collaboration between their corporate functions is sufficient. Marketers need to embrace aligning with the “keeper of the data” in order to make impactful decisions and deliver measurable results.

Advanced Marketing Analytics GraphicsSource: Zirobi

The Happy Couple

Enter advanced marketing analytics. Data isn’t just for the tech guys anymore; it’s for everyone. All business departments in all industries can (and should) benefit from better data insights. But we’re here to talk marketing. Advanced analytics will greatly improve your understanding of your customer. This leads to a plethora of possibilities for improved marketing tactics, of which we have time to examine just a few.

Customer 360

Customer 360 is the O to the H2; the rainbow to the rain; the “Mona” to the “Lisa”; the cherry on the sundae. I think you get my point: Customer 360 is the most crucial part of advanced marketing data, and without it, your marketing insights will be only marginally helpful. (AKA: not helpful at all.) You! Need! Customer! 360!

Okay, now that that’s out of my system, let’s talk about what Customer 360 is. As you may have guessed, it’s a 360-degree view of your customer, and it looks at your customers individually and allows you to make refined and granular customer segments.

On an individual customer level, Customer 360 is going to combine every single data point about a specific person from every single data source in your company. (Yes, that seems obvious, but for most organizations, it’s not easy to integrate this information – especially without strong IT involvement.) Then, it’ll supplement external data sources to give you even greater insight into that individual. Now, you have their name, age, address, past purchases, annual income bracket, tickets opened with your customer care teams, social insights, major life events, and other relevant information.

Once you have plenty of data points on your individual customers, machine learning can be applied to consider all of those points – literally millions (and yes, I mean literally) – and cluster these customers into segments based on very specific overlapping traits – all based on facts, not human assumptions. Market segments, as you know, are marketing bread and butter. Distinctive and differentiated segments, instead of generic demographic-based segments, will put you a cut above the rest.

With the information Customer 360 gives you about individual customers and customer segments, you can bring new insights and decisions to all aspects of your marketing. Let’s look at just a couple examples.

Targeted Marketing

Every marketer is trying to increase ROI. Of course, one of the best ways to do this is to target our customers precisely, without spending money marketing to those who won’t buy our products and services. But that isn’t easy, especially without any data telling us who our best customers are and where we can reach them.

Having a deep understanding of your customer – Customer 360! – gives marketers an edge. This data defines who our customers are, what their habits are, and where they get their information. That’s a perfect formula for precise marketing, and voila! Increased ROI thanks to increased conversion rates through data-driven targeting strategies.

Customer Experience

In the last few years, marketers have shifted more focus to customer experience. Businesses are realizing that marketing – creating value, as we talked about earlier – plays a role in every stage of the customer journey.

The experience a customer has during the decision-making and buying process can easily make or break the deal. That’s huge. According to Forrester Research, it’s actually more important than the products or services your sell. That’s why it’s vital to layer insights from the 360-degree view of your customer with your customer experience strategy.

The more data you have about your customers’ tastes, behaviors, interests, etc., the more you can create the ideal experience for them to make a purchase. This requires true omnichannel data access which, if you’re catching the theme here, is best realized through close collaboration with your IT colleagues. Insights can range from specific changes to your website interface, online checkout process, or product organization to changes in your brick-and-mortar layouts, lighting, or processes. Like improved targeting, improved customer experience is an ROI booster, reducing customer churn, attracting new customers through experiences that delight, and making customers’ decisions to buy effortless and enjoyable.

Customer Loyalty & CLV

Increasing customer loyalty and collecting data with loyalty programs is huge right now. But is it working? Are customers actually more loyal thanks to your loyalty program, and is their customer lifetime value increasing?

A customer loyalty program isn’t a silver bullet – if it’s not designed with the customer in mind, and doesn’t translate to something that’s valuable in their mind, it can leave a bad taste in their mouth. But if designed and implemented effectively, a customer loyalty program can incentivize customers to provide you with useful data and deliver positive experiences that keep them coming back.

Advanced marketing analytics bring loads of insight into customer loyalty. First and foremost, the data obtained through your customer loyalty program can be utilized to create or enhance a Customer 360 view and augment what you already know.

But collecting and analyzing the data isn’t everything. In fact, it’s hardly anything. Operationalizing it, or acting on the insights-driven decisions from it, is what creates value to the customer. If your convenience store is collecting data on a customer loyalty program user who buys gas, breakfast sandwiches, and fresh-brewed coffee regularly, but your loyalty program offers them a coupon for a sports drink or snack item, that’s not going to increase that customer’s lifetime value. (In fact, it’s more of a slap in the face when a loyal customer’s hard-earned coupons are wasted on something they never order!) Your data can tell you exactly the types of offers your customers want.

Using the data you have on your customers to provide them more value is going to make them loyal customers, and in turn, increase their lifetime value. Now that’s data-driven marketing!

Implementing Advanced Marketing Analytics

According to Gartner, fewer than 10% of companies have a 360-degree customer view. I see that as a striking correlation to the unbelievably low percentage of companies that feel they have proper collaboration between IT and marketing (ahem… also 10%).

I know; I already said this. But I’m going to say it again: data is for everyone. But as we talked about earlier, the IT world and the marketing world both require experts in their fields. If you’re thinking, “Surely, there isn’t anyone who can be an IT expert and a data expert and a marketing expert,” you’re right. The ability to combine these skill sets from across your team is a skill in and of itself, and most definitely requires buy-in to be willing to change processes and procedures that may have been in place for a very long time.

Transitioning and training current team members or finding the right handful of people to add to your team is worth the effort, but will take time. While working through this transition of growth, you may want to look for a consultant dedicated to this exact type of transformation. (Lucky for you, you’re in the right place.)

Zirous is proudly partnered with the marketing strategy and research experts at OBI Creative, combining our IT expertise, advanced analytics expertise, and marketing expertise to provide the ultimate in advanced marketing analytics and Customer 360: Zirobi. Formed on the basis that IT and marketing are better together, our Catalyst program shows us where you’re at now, where you want to be, and how you can get there through optimal use of your data. Let us show you how you can achieve full visibility with CX360.

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