The business case for investing in data and analytics
The obstacle to individualization
With more technology and data available than ever, today’s consumers are increasingly expecting consistently, seamlessly personalized experiences from brands. They want communications and interactions that reflect their unique needs, preferences, and ongoing journeys. They want to feel recognized as the individuals that they are.
And that is what individualization promises—an approach to customer engagement that goes beyond simple segmentation and evolves with each customer, in real time and across touchpoints. However, for brands themselves, extracting the right insights from data deluge to deliver such experiences is easier said than done.
And without enough data, or the ability to harness the right data, brands will be limited to basic targeting efforts that fall short of consumers’ expectations. So, why is it so hard for brands to achieve individualization?
The answer is that too often brands are struggling to wrest valuable data from an ever expanding martech stack that is full of silos, point solutions, and legacy systems. They are held back by technology that cannot accommodate the scale of the data deluge, act on the insights in real time, or power integrated customer engagement efforts. At a more fundamental level, a siloed martech stack prevents brands from gaining perhaps the most critical key to individualization—a single, robust profile of the customer.
Robust customer profiles are the first stepping stone
Today’s consumers are far more digitally savvy. They are sophisticated and at ease when it comes to navigating multiple devices and channels, online and offline, in everyday life or consumption.
However, consumers have not suddenly become some endlessly mutating creatures, nor are their individual needs changing so drastically and rapidly that the data brands have of each of them is bound to go stale quickly. The data does exist, but brands simply lack the means to meaningfully turn it into something useful.
The difficulty is that without an integrated data platform, brands will struggle to collect and consolidate the variety of customer data across sources and touchpoints to achieve a singular profile of the customer. And if they cannot link these disparate attributes and insights to the right individual profile, it will be near impossible for brands to respond to customers’ real-time behavior and changing scenarios in a way that reflects individual needs and context.
With a capable customer data platform, however, brands should be able to consolidate all of their data sources and communication channels, unifying and continuously augmenting all customer data—demographic, psychographic, behavioral, social, and more. The broad range of data that is gathered offers a clear insight into customer interests, channel preferences, campaigns responses, digital behavior, and even their propensities. This information is vital for creating a detailed and comprehensive view of each individual customer and their unique experience with a brand.
Individualization not personalization
Consumers today are inveterate channel-hoppers. They browse on one platform and buy on another, and it is up to brands to harness the data while simultaneously engaging them customers continuously, contextually, and relevantly across channels.
It is a complicated task for even the most sophisticated marketer, and many end up simply greeting a customer by name or leveraging demographic data alone to create personalized experiences. Personalization in this sense groups together like-minded customers that have shown an interest in a particular product but whose similarities might stop there.
But, while rudimentary personalization is better than no personalization, there is a better solution. Instead, marketers should be using the troves of data they have to create individualized experiences.
Unlike personalization, individualization combines many different aspects of a customer’s data set to serve them exactly the right information at exactly the right time in exactly the right place. It reaches past demographic data to utilize deeper insights like propensities and real-time behavior, and it moves beyond one-off targeted communications for holistic, tailored journeys that evolve with individual customers in real time. Each experience is completely unique, making the customer feel special and deepening the bond between buyer and brand.
The next steps for data and individualization
The advent of big data and the rise of a digitally savvy consumer base present exceptional opportunities for brands to elevate their marketing efforts, deepen customer relationships, and add additional boost to their top-line growth.
But it requires new approaches, solutions, and processes. Brands need to be able to harness the immense value that the data deluge harbors to create value-rich experiences for the individual customer. Individualization is the next step in customer engagement, and it can’t happen without the right data foundation. It’s time for a change.