Can You Speak Data?

Can You Speak Data?
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In this opinion piece, Customology general manager Michael Barnard (pictured below) explains that in order to use data effectively, brands and advertisers need to speak its language.

Michael Barnard

Customers are giving us their data, but we are still not using it effectively. Why haven’t we learnt how to speak data yet?

Stating we live in the age of data is like saying water is wet – we all know this. Customers are increasingly providing brands with data about themselves without any hesitation, but there is still a large problem with many brands not using this freely provided data effectively. There are some very common errors being made with data that marketers need to think about before undertaking expensive and sometimes irreversible business decisions.

Specifically, data needs to drive behaviour, not be used to validate behaviour. You need to look for actionable insights in the data, understand it, stress-test it and then check whether it is robust enough to influence your business decisions. Too often, data is seen as valuable purely because it contains figures, trends and observations. Current thinking now though is that data is part of a rich conversation with customers. It doesn’t equal more value, but it does drive customer transactions. The key is to find the data that helps you understand what influences your customers behaviours and decision-making, then apply that to your customer journeys to drive engagement and ultimately revenue.

This, at its core, is the best use of data and, unfortunately, information is not always used in this manner.

Where do we begin to head off this problem? Just like learning anything new, this new thought process needs to start as soon as possible as marketing, communication, advertising and creative professionals need to learn to speak data. And, they need to become fluent in this new language.

Data from customers’ needs to be used for customers

An added consideration is the importance of securing quality data over quantity data. More often than not, the focus has been on how much customer data can be captured and this avalanche of information is then shaped around business instead of around the actual customer.

This mindset needs to change. Instead, what is the data saying about the customer? By answering this question, data can inform your campaigns and business decisions.

Additionally, data can build relevancy with your customers. The customer journey provides ample opportunity to shape your engagement strategies and the right data can ensure that you are rewarding those that engage with you, creating relationships that last and that translates into revenue.

Too much talking and not enough listening

Brands have the opportunity to reach their target market at almost any time of the day regardless of where they are based geographically, and this has created a problem with brands over communicating. Marketers need to use the data provided by customers to continue the conversation. Are you repeating something the customer already knows and doesn’t need to hear again? Active listening, especially by brands, will always be rewarded. Try not to bombard your customers with information as this will result in a decline of brand trust, loyalty and sales.

Listen to what your data is telling you about the types of customers your brand is attracting and tailor your conversations to suit them. The right type of conversation will keep customers engaged with your brand longer.

Recently, it was revealed that more than $50 billion worth of retail trading sales was created in December, with many retailers enjoying the spoils of this spend. This as a treasure-trove of data that is just waiting to be analysed to help inform marketing teams across the country. As we start sifting through this data, I think it is an opportune time to start looking at how well we read these insights and ask if we really speak the language of customer data.

If you are fluent, your customers will respond.

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