In an ideal world, an organisation would know what a customer wants and when they are going to want it. In reality, this is a challenging concept that many find difficult to put into practice. To delve into this and other common challenges facing marketing professionals, Experian, conducted research with more than 180 marketers from Australia and New Zealand, the research also revealed key priorities for the year ahead.
The research found Australian marketers are struggling to acquire new customers, profile existing customers and to stand out from their competitors. In order to overcome these common challenges, organisations need to start with data.
Despite data being discussed relentlessly over the past few years, and it being at the core of smart marketing initiatives, data is still a blind spot for many organisations. Thirty-one per cent say it is a major challenge, yet only a small number (17 per cent) of Australian marketers identified data as a key focus area this year, compared with the global average of 29 per cent.
Although organisations are acutely aware of their shortcomings when it comes to data, they are still unsure of how to move forward. The research showed many organisations are choosing to prioritise initiatives such as telling the brand story and standing out against competitors (52 per cent) or building a customer acquisition strategy (57 per cent) above focusing on good data management practices.
This is a cause for concern. Without accurate, enriched data, brands will continue to struggle to differentiate themselves from competitors, create relevant interactions or build successful customer-acquisition strategies.
The one-size fits all approach is a thing of the past
As customers come to expect brands to interact with them on a more personal level, marketers will need to leave the one-size-fits all approach in the past. Yet many lack the resource, skills and depth of data to make this happen.
One way to tackle this problem is with third-party data. This is an efficient and often cost effective solution that enables a deeper understanding of customers. Although this is a common practice globally, a significant number of Australian businesses are falling behind by not exploring ways to enrich their data from third-party sources. Experian’s research found 37 per cent of respondents from Australia and New Zealand don’t enrich their data from third-party sources at all; this was significantly more than the global average of 25 per cent.
Brands need to provide relevant and personalised interactions to their customer each and every time. By enriching the data with insights and analytics such as combining the data from loyalty programs with demographic information and third–party data, marketers can ensure they are providing relevant and personalised interactions to their customers each and every time.
How well do you know your customer?
Once brands have enriched their data they will have a better understanding of who their customers are and where their interests lie. Next, they can use this additional information to have more personalised conversations with customers.
Internationally, marketers are already doing this well. Forty-two per cent of marketers in North America and the UK personalise with behavioural data compared with only 30 per cent in Australia and New Zealand. Experian’s research shows local marketers have a way to go on their journey, finding 76 per cent only personalise with basic data, like first names or not at all.
The most common roadblocks to personalisation for local marketers are lack of internal resources (46 per cent), lack of technology to enable personalisation (36 per cent) and inaccurate data (3 per cent).
To be most effective, marketers must deploy personalised content, messaging and offers at each point of interaction. There is an opportunity for brands to begin to differentiate themselves in this way by delivering intelligent and authentic communications with their customers wherever and whenever they interact with the brand.
Reframing the way we think about data
Marketers need to reframe the way they think about data and recognise it as an opportunity to achieve business outcomes. The key is prioritising data management strategies, and taking ownership of linking disparate data sources to enrich single customer view. Armed with a deeper understanding of their customer, marketers can develop highly effective, tailored and relevant content that resonates and adds value at every interaction.