Even with resources, new technology and analytics available today, most companies still don’t know how to use big data. When was the last time you got a piece of spam in your mailbox or email inbox? Customers get tailored and personalized experiences from companies like Spotify, Netflix and Amazon and the rest of the world's businesses haven't caught up. These are companies that are using big data effectively. That results in an irresistible customer experience. On the contrary if you’re like most people, getting spam in your email, in your mailbox, on your social media channels, on your phone and even your tv is a daily occurrence. As marketers we need to do a better job of not collecting data simply to send customers messages they don’t want or need. Customers crave personalization, and now that they are getting it from Spotify, Netflix and Amazon, they expect it from you too.
The three things marketers need to do a better job of when it comes to big data include:
Make Marketing Invaluable To The Entire Company By Listening
Focus On Big Data Education Across The Company
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Recently Econsultancy conducted research discussion round-tables with dozens of marketers in Hong Kong. What they found is that it's key for marketing to be the leader inside the company on big data.
1. Collect Only The Need-To-Have Data - Use It To Provide Truly Personalized Customer Experiences
We are still not simply collecting the “need-to-have-data.” We are collecting mass data only to send email blasts and over-advertise customers things they don’t need. We continue to tell consumers what we want to tell them whether it’s relevant for the individual consumer or not. GDPR regulation has made many brands nervous about customer data, but even in today’s environment we need to be in the business of collecting data in order to provide more relevant and personalized customer experiences. We must be diligent in ensuring every customer experience is relevant, and maintains and respects the customer’s level of comfort in engaging with us.
2. Make Marketing Invaluable To The Entire Company By ListeningMarketing needs to do a better job of listening to the needs of management and groups outside of marketing. If marketing is to be impactful with big data, then marketing can benefit from playing a more active role in relationship building with groups like customer service, sales, even human resources. Today’s organization is like a big organism where everything is connected. Marketing can no longer afford to try and build relationships with customers in a silo. 3. Focus On Big Data Education Across The Company
Outside of marketing groups often assume big data is not relevant for them. That’s a problem for marketing. In addition to becoming better listeners as discussed above, it’s marketing’s role to educate the entire company about the power of big data and its potential to impact the entire company. Marketing can lead this effort and bring in specialists that will talk to and train all employees. With an improved relationship with marketing across the company, groups outside of marketing will be more amenable to sharing their data. Sharing of data across the company is the only way to to be successful with it and provide a beautifully relevant and personalized customer experience.
Most of the time, people outside marketing don’t care about big data or understand how it impacts customers.
In order to properly leverage big data to create better customer experiences, marketers must break out of their silos and build relationships across departments. Marketers are commonly focused on building relationships with customers, but they must also work on building relationships inside the company. By getting more access to better data across the company, marketers can work with other departments to provide a valuable, cohesive customer experience. The marketing department would benefit the entire company by taking the lead on big data initiatives, as long as executed appropriately. We all know of companies that are sneaky in the way they trick customers into opting into email marketing and other forms of advertising customers simply don't want. Even if a few customers click, this is in the long-term very bad for your company's reputation.
The point of big data isn’t to just collect more customer data so you can send them more mass-produced flyers and messages. The goal is to gather data so that you can provide relevant experiences that actually meet the needs of customers.
When big data is used correctly, it helps companies understand customer preferences so they can provide something exactly when the customer needs it.
Consider these two different scenarios. A customer is driving a 10-year-old car and is in need of an oil change. The customer could receive a spammy email, text, or flyer about a new automotive center, or the customer could receive a personalized message with their name and a coupon for an oil change. The customer is much more likely to use the personalized offer because it meets their needs. In this example of marketing leveraging big data appropriately the company knew the customer needed an oil change and provided the right opportunity at the right time.
Marketing Can Take The Lead, Educate and Galvanize Siloed Teams Around Big Data
The most successful companies have marketers who do more than just listen and learn from other groups—they educate the entire company about the importance of big data. The IT department should know how data is being accessed, finance should know the cost and front-line employees should be armed with data to better assist customers. Often the data is hidden in separate areas of the company and if marketing can get everyone collaborating, the data will be easier to access across the company. That will make the data usable. When everyone is on the same page, they can all realize the importance of personalizing customer experiences with data. The first step to the end of spam is to work within the organization to create an understanding of how and when to use big data.
Big data is incredibly useful to brands, but most companies aren’t using it correctly. Break down the silos, dig deep in the data, understand your customers and create a great experience for everyone who interacts with your brand.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of "More Is More." Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.