So You Think You Know Who Your Consumers Are?

So You Think You Know Who Your Consumers Are?

Ask any group of marketers if they know exactly who their customers are, and predictably almost all will answer ‘Yes’, says John Burgin, vice president and regional head for Australia and New Zealand at tech solutions company, Cognizant.

David Frost
Posted by David Frost

Yet, huge scope exists for those marketers to create significantly more value with consumers and drive growth for brand owners.

Predictive analytics opens a direct, immediate path to consumers, enabling businesses to nurture relationships with customers and even with those who may influence others to buy their products.

The more brand owners know about their customers, the more relevant and profitable their relationships will be. Code Halos™—the swirl of digitally generated data that surrounds each of us as individual consumers—help brands to sharpen their relevance. When brands apply predictive analytics to derive meaning from these rich sources of information, they can improve marketing effectiveness in four areas:

  • Market awareness
  • Brand preference
  • Brand influence
  • Product development

Decoding code halos and developing insights for mutually valuable relationships requires brand owners to look beyond the often sporadic view of the consumer that current methodologies and tools provide. Brand-building through one-to-one relationships requires new analytics tools and fundamental changes to marketing.

Innovative brand owners are embracing code halo thinking by pairing big data and predictive analytics. With leading predictive analytics solutions to analyse consumer activity and behaviour, marketers can begin to create one-to-one relationships and put their companies on the road to lasting prosperity.

Creating one-to-one relationships

In a world gone social, predictive analytics lets brands in on the conversation. Businesses can get to know and communicate with their customers as individuals and discover their likes, dislikes, preferences and habits. The connection is a powerful marketing opportunity, and analytics gives it immediacy. Brands can communicate with consumers even as they shop. That immediacy dramatically alters the conversation, changing the quantity and quality of brand messaging. The more marketers know about consumers, the more effectively they can communicate with them, and the more personalised the messaging can be.

One-to-one relationships, however, are a marathon, not a sprint. The most compelling narrative to advance relationships isn’t always a ‘buy’ message; it’s often a value exchange. Brand owners need to shift away from traditional campaigns and 15- or 30-second spots and move towards a fluid application of insights from today’s 24×7 streams of information. An example is the free smartphone app from Procter & Gamble’s Charmin brand, which promises to help consumers to locate clean public restrooms.

Rather than directly selling a product, the app serves a need. For consumers, the value is clear, and increases their affinity towards the brand. By embracing consumers’ code halos, brand owners can unlock this new type of brand value. By generating a unique virtual identity for each consumer through their clicks, swipes, comments and posts, brands can add context and value. They can launch conversations and begin to foster relationships.

Managing the data deluge

Data has long been at the heart of brand owners’ new market opportunities. Traditionally direct marketing has relied on reams of consumer data, such as addresses, household income and credit scores. But such information is a droplet compared with the ocean of data that swells up daily for modern marketers today. And compared with the weeks and months it used to take for consumer input to flow in, analytics now empowers marketers by surfacing patterns and correlations on an up-to-the-second basis.

Through analytics, marketers can now understand not just which cars consumers drive, but also when and where they last bought fuel and the snacks they bought while refuelling.

Analytics distils the structured data that marketers have relied on, such as databases, spreadsheets, CRM systems and third-party information. It brings order to the burgeoning—some might say chaotic—sources of unstructured data, from social media posts, tweets and ‘pins’ to call-centre recordings, images and feedback from wearable technology like Fitbits®. With analytics, data has met its match. And for marketers, the result is new consumer intimacy and immediacy.

Meet your consumers

Putting analytics to work in brand-building and one-to-one relationships in this more intimate, immediate environment requires new tools and fundamental changes. Many marketing budgets fail to reflect the shift and remain weighted towards traditional media. But to make use of consumer code halos, brand owners need to develop a more holistic view of consumers that continues to sharpen over time.

Take product sampling. Distributing samples used to be as close as brand owners came to shoppers. Companies spent millions on mass-mailing samples or handing these out at retail locations. Doing so can be an expensive leap of faith — and typically the end of a potentially profitable relationship with consumers.

With analytics, it is the beginning of the relationship. In a departure from traditional blind sampling, brand owners are drawing on more refined data to get their product samples into targeted hands. Some manufacturers are forging new partnerships to zero in on prospects. Unilever is venturing into so-called ‘smart sampling’ by partnering with e-commerce clothing retailers Beyond the Rack and Coastal.com to tuck samples of its high-end hair products into shipments to buyers of higher end clothing.

Once marketers get their samples to more qualified consumers, analytics can become a game-changer. By choosing more receptive audiences for samples, marketers gain permission to engage with consumers, follow up with them and foster relationships.

By probing code halos for additional consumer information, marketers can identify their products’ relevance and begin to determine a consumer’s lifetime value for the brand. They can evaluate how much individuals will contribute to the brand’s success, and whether they want to continue to invest in them. Analytics can also surface audiences that marketers had never considered.

Leveraging smart objects

Mastering analytics is key for brand owners because new product ecosystems will soon churn out even more data-fed opportunities. ‘Smart shelves’ that employ RFID tags are being developed to measure shoppers’ interest in products and tailored offers, and then relay the information in real-time to manufacturers.

Global snack company Mondelez International is testing sensor-based shelves that can determine a shopper’s age and gender. In consumers’ homes, a wave of innovations is leading the way to the so-called ‘connected home’. The Amazon Dash electronic wand lets customers of Amazon’s grocery service create online shopping lists by scanning bar codes of items in their home. Google hopes that its smart-home automation platform, Nest, will become the de facto standard among household data-sharing devices. It has also launched a developer program for other companies to tie in with the device.

Once marketers get their samples to more qualified consumers, analytics can become a game-changer. By choosing more receptive audiences for samples, marketers gain permission to engage with consumers. By embracing Code Halo thinking, brand owners and retailers are undertaking new forms of collaboration, and finding new ways to mutually benefit.

Monetising data

Most brand owners are taking first steps towards pairing big data with predictive analytics. To engage and create value with consumers, they are mounting hashtag campaigns, running ads on new-media sites such as Instagram, and measuring impressions, click-through rates and conversions.

While this is a good start, analytics’ real benefit for brand owners lies in using the metrics to predict future behaviour. With analytics, marketers can cross-tab participants in the hashtag campaign with product purchases, for example, and then anticipate their shopping patterns to shape product marketing. Or they might forecast growth in conversations related to current events and then experiment with creative real-time marketing.

The goal is to convert metrics into better acquisition and retention rates. Viral hits produce a spike of interest. However, if marketers place too much emphasis on creating these events, they will be distracted from the bigger picture: focusing on the customers who want to interact with them. The mission is to create sustainable consumer relationships, so rather than crafting splashy individual moments, marketers need to continue listening to consumers, learn from them and optimise their efforts. When they do, the important moments occur organically.

Benefiting from predictive analytics

The more brand owners know about customers, the more productive and profitable their relationships will be. Analytics introduces a more scientific approach to marketing, but successful marketing is still about following the fundamentals: be engaging and relevant, or customers will walk away.

Check out four ways you can benefit from analytics here.