In the world of marketing over the last decade or so there has been a seismic shift in power from brands to customers. The explosion of the internet has played an increasingly integral role in customer marketing, with the birth and proliferation of social media and the multitude of online channels available, both brands and customers have benefitted.
Brands can reach customers more easily than ever before with sophisticated and targeted approaches. Customers have more choice than ever before with their ability to search for the service or product they’re after, only a click away. These channels help give their customers an ‘alternative choice’, a few seconds and a few clicks away.
The customer’s voice is increasingly amplified and customers are freer than ever to voice their opinions and reactions at a brand’s performance. If they are dissatisfied and share this dissatisfaction across various digital channels, this can have damaging consequences for brands. According to our Acxiom survey, more than 54% of UK consumers would stop using a brand if they felt ‘let-down’ even just once*. In today’s internet age, customers’ expectations are higher than ever and their tolerance for being ‘let-down’ even by brands they have an existing affinity and relationship with, is more fragile than ever.
Indeed, one doesn’t need to look too far to find out how much power social media holds over business. In April 2013, US discount retailer Target found itself in potentially troubled water by advertising a plus-size version of a dress as ‘manatee grey’ in colour (manatee’s are often referred to as sea cows), while the regular version was listed as ‘heather grey’. One Twitter user picked up on this and alerted her followers to the mistake. Target was fast to understand that this was a potential PR crisis in the making and hastily amended the online description to prevent the story gaining further traction. This not only impressed the Twitter user with the speed and effectiveness at which they resolved the error, but within two days Target’s resolution had reduced the online chatter to only a small number of mentions. Due to its clear and swift response on social media, Target managed to turn a negative story into an overtly positive one, highlighting the speed of their online customer service.
All this means that brands are held more accountable than they ever were and the no.1 lesson for brands is that they must address their customer retention strategies as a core objective in their business and marketing strategies. The need for brands to build deeper relationships with their customers through a variety of touchpoints is critical.
Much marketing literature states that brand’s should be agile and respond in real-time to their customer’s needs – but brand’s need to do more than that. Proactivity beats reactivity and in order for brand’s to most effectively manage their online reputation they must implement a data driven customer-centric strategy.
Data-centric marketing can help brands achieve dramatically increased customer loyalty through personalisation and the importance of establishing targeted, meaningful connections with customers cannot be understated. Fully utilising and understanding the vast swathes of data to make better connections with your customers is key in turning insights into action and action into advantage.
If customers are truly at the heart of any brand’s marketing strategy then data is the fundamental key in fully utilising granular information to understand customers; preferences and behaviours in order to more effectively target them and predict their behaviour.
Brands who understand the significance of social interactions and location-based data can significantly enhance their customer’s experiences by offering a service that’s not only tailored to the individual but one that’s also contextually relevant. Ultimately, smarter usage of data can help brands make better connections with their customers for better results, proactivity minimising the propensity of ‘letting down’ their customers. If brands can better understand their customer, then they can more effectively serve their needs, delighting their customer’s with relevancy and personalisation in their communications. Brands could have just one chance with any given customer; they need to make it count.
To explore how data holds the key to customer centric marketing, download the whitepaper to learn more and see how you can adopt a customer-centric strategy in your business.
*Statistics gathered from Acxiom’s online survey questions based on 3,221 respondents