The More You Know The More You Grow

January 14, 2014

“Once you have an existing customer, the best practice is to remarket them.”

By Scott Merrow

Consider what conditions might need to exist in order for a business to grow without expanding its customer base. One such condition that exists for every business is an established customer base. This core group is loyal to a brand, and the expectation is that because of that loyalty, they will return as customers. That assumption often leads businesses to expend much of their marketing resources on attracting new customers, rather than remarketing to their existing customers. This, according to Derek Olson, director of business development at Datapak Services, can be a costly mistake.

Datapak Services, located in Howell, Mich., is a fulfillment provider with a robust recording platform that warehouses product (data) and ships it to consumers (businesses). Olson is charged with helping businesses find the best way to utilize data in their marketing efforts.

“Companies spend a lot of time and money marketing to new customers,” says Olson. “It’s very expensive and often doesn’t provide a return on investment.” Olson suggests an alternative. “Once you have an existing customer, the best practice is to remarket them.” Put simply, monetizing current customers can prove more beneficial than trying to gain new ones. “Data gathered on customers will tell you how to remarket them,” adds Olson.

Herein, though, is the conundrum. Most businesses either don’t know how to or don’t correctly use available data to remarket to existing customers.

USE IT (DATA) OR LOSE IT (PROFITS)

We are in the Information Age, meaning businesses have more information available to them than ever before concerning customer buying habits and trends. Yet, according to findings in a study conducted by Teradata, “Teradata Data-driven Marketing Survey 2013,” data are being grossly underutilized by most businesses.

To conduct the study, Teradata surveyed more than 2,200 marketers globally to examine how businesses use data in marketing campaigns and to gain a competitive advantage. The study reveals that of those surveyed, only 48 percent of marketers were using data even on an ad hoc basis, while just one-third (33 percent) of marketers have systematically integrated data usage into their standard processes.

Olson’s sentiments concur with the study’s assessment. “Many businesses collect data, but then don’t utilize it correctly, or focus on it as much as they should.” He adds, “Data collected reveals buying habits that have the potential to reveal or determine patterns in the consumer.” By not properly integrating available data into its marketing strategy, many businesses are underutilizing an asset that could be a valuable tool in driving profits.

There exists an irony here in that the rampant lack of data-driven marketing is practically an open secret among marketers. Teradata’s study reveals that nearly half (45 percent) of marketers surveyed agree that data are their most underutilized asset, and 78 percent of marketers say they feel pressure to utilize data-driven marketing, yet a majority of those are currently not doing so. Moreover, just 18 percent have a single, integrated view of customer actions, yet list it as a top priority for future improvement.

Indeed, 56 percent of marketers surveyed proclaim that within the next year, they plan to begin using data to systematically drive their marketing. Meaning if your business is among those who don’t have a plan in place to implement data-driven marketing, your competitors who do will have a decided advantage in the marketplace in the coming year.

BRINGING THE DATA INTO FOCUS

In business, recognizing a need is often easy; however, finding effective ways to address an acknowledged need can prove challenging.

“When dealing with data, it’s often hard to determine what is and isn’t valuable information,” says Olson. “Analyzing data is often overwhelming when you’re not even sure what you’re looking for.”

This notion is reflected in the Teradata study: The No. 1 obstacle listed for integrating data into decision making is a lack of processes that bring insight into what the data mean.

For many marketers, the data at hand are like those 3-D pictures you stare at until you achieve the correct focus, then—suddenly—the image pops out at you in stunning clarity. Though, in the case of most marketers, they aren’t able to achieve the correct focus (or lack the means to), so the data remain a jumble of numbers and statistics that serve no useful purpose.

In order to bring data into focus, Olson suggests first deciding on what it is you seek from the data, then aggregating the relevant information to fit your needs. For instance, if the aim is to remarket to existing customers, pinpointing what the attributes of your best customers are will aid in focusing a remarketing campaign. Something as simple as finding that your best customers are largely comprised of Gen Yers or Baby Boomers can dictate whether the best approach is to remarket that core group via social media channels or through a direct mailer.

Although it may prove effective for mass-marketing, pinpointing best customer attributes to focus remarketing is a broad-stroke application of data. Olson also outlines a way that drilling deeper into customer habits can serve to dictate how to remarket to specific customers.

“Data collected reveal buying habits that reveal or determine patterns in the consumer,” says Olson. For instance, Olson details a scenario in which customer purchase history data for an e-commerce cosmetic company reveal that a high percentage of customers who purchased a specific lip gloss later purchased a specific eye shadow. “Therefore, if a customer purchases the specific lip gloss, the next communication to the customer should be tailored toward marketing the eye shadow, and so on,” adds Olson.

Through this method of reactive marketing, customers can be served up tailored information based on available data and buying habits concerning the product purchased.

“It’s a highly effective use of marketing dollars,” says Olson, “because the data show that there is a high probability that the customer will respond to the communication.” In contrast, when marketing to a new customer, there is only the hope that the customer will respond.

Although effective and efficient, the Teradata study reveals that only 36 percent of those surveyed routinely use data to tailor specific messages and offers to improve customer interactions. Marketers, take note.

IT TAKES DATA TO UTILIZE DATA

There is an old adage that goes “data doesn’t grow on trees.” Okay. Perhaps that’s a new take on an old adage (and grammatically incorrect); however, it still applies. But if data don’t grow on trees, where does it come from?

Fulfillment providers such as Datapak Services specialize in warehousing data and disseminating it to clients who seek it, but there are also ways that a business can take an active role in collecting data while at the same time strengthening its brand.

Brand experience is how you keep a customer coming back, and an integral part of the brand experience is the initial communication or interaction with a customer. It is during the initial customer contact that data can be captured via feedback surveys and loyalty club enrollment.

Through feedback surveys, businesses can receive input from customers concerning product quality and service received, but this also presents an opportunity to collect demographic information that can be aggregated for remarketing purposes. These surveys can be molded over time to fit the needs of a given business, so that data captured fits a specific marketing purpose.

“Collect as much information as you can without inconveniencing your customer,” suggests Olson.

Similarly, loyalty clubs can serve to provide demographic information that can be used for remarketing purposes. Something as simple as knowing someone’s birthday can be used to not only build the brand through special birthday offers such as discounts, knowing someone’s age also allows a business to discern the best way to remarket to them. However data is gathered, Olson suggests that it be done in a creative way that keeps the customer engaged.

There isn’t necessarily a wrong way to gather data for marketing purposes; it can be provided by companies such as Datapak Services or collected by businesses via surveys and loyalty clubs. The thing a business can do wrong is not properly utilizing data to remarket to its existing customers, because the next best customer is likely a customer it already has.