How to meet customers’ expectations as they ‘shoot through the roof’
Customers are increasingly expecting superior experiences, so brands must use data to understand them better and ensure marketing is truly useful and relevant
The bar just keeps on rising on what customers expect from brands, both online and in bricks-and-mortar shops. While vague segments used to be enough to make a marketer feel they were in touch with their customers, today’s data-driven business need to delve much deeper.
As Lindsay McEwan, senior vice-president and general manager for Tealium in Europe, pointed out to Festival of Marketing attendees, there has been a massive change in customer behaviour. The past year has not only seen us all glued to our screens on Zoom calls, it has seen a massive raising of the stakes for understanding customers and offering them great experiences.
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“The more you can understand your customer, all of these tiny nuanced pieces of data; the more you can pull it all together in real time to genuinely understand what is going on, and then talk to your customer in a way that really resonates with them; the more likely you are to see incredibly quick results, and see us meeting those business-level objectives that we're all talking about driving towards,” she explained.
McHenry used case studies to underline the point of how ending the silos and getting a central view of a customer can pay dividends both to a marketer’s campaign metrics and a company’s bottom line. Women’s fashion retailer Roman Originals, for example, found it had a category of customer that came as a surprise. The expectation was that its key shoppers were in their 50s and holding down good jobs, but the reality was it also had a significant segment of women in their 40s who were on career breaks or looking after children.
Better insight not only improves segmentation and adds a new type of surprise customers, it can boost marketing performance. In another case study, Dutch healthcare company PartenaMut had multiple platforms and data that was providing what McHenry called “a completely disjointed image of its customers”. With a better, single view of its customers’ needs, the brand was able to tailor email marketing campaigns leading to a 16.6% improvement in clickthrough rate.
Tui similarly saw a 6% reduction in the cost of securing a holiday booking and an 18% increase in its return on ad spend by better understanding its customers, particularly their interactions with the brand on social media.
The message from McEwan and McHenry was very clear. Consumers now expect to be understood and have their needs pre-empted through constantly improving customer experiences. These can only be provided if a business aligns its technology, people and process to act on a centralised view of customers so it has a better idea of who they are, what their needs are and how the brand can be both helpful and relevant.
The case studies proved the point but also served as a warning that this requirement to get under the skin of consumers and understand them better is only going to get more intense. It is no longer an optional extra, it is what customers are coming to expect as normal. ■
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“Our expectations from organisations have really gone through the roof,” he said.
“Everybody is expecting better experiences. They're expecting you to understand who they are. They're expecting you to be able to react in a way that is appropriate to the deep relationship [they have] with a brand good or a service.”
This growing expectation among consumers that the brands they want to be loyal to understand their needs and offer an exceptional service is only going to carry on. Marketers who think the answer is a new piece of technology that will get the job done and allow them to carry on as normal are mistaken, McEwan warned.
Collating data so you can better understand customers is a long term, never-ending process, and it cannot be left to technology alone. A data platform is important but so too are a company’s people and its processes.
“The concept of [near] personalisation at scale, is a very difficult thing to do,” he said.
“It's not just about buying the latest new platform. And it's not just about hiring the most phenomenal team. And it's certainly not about building the most efficient processes. It's actually about the combination of all three. It's about people, processes and technology. It's about pulling all of those components together.”
It was a point that was also made at the Festival of Marketing by Laura McHenry, vice-president of marketing for Tealium in EMEA. A little over nine in 10 consumers are likely to shop with brands that offer genuinely relevant offers and recommendations. Hence, it is no surprise that four in five see an uplift in sales after introducing personalisation.
Tealium's Lindsay McEwan on how consumer expectations have changed
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Tealium's Laura McHenry explains how customer data platforms can create nuanced segments