4 examples of customer insight improving sales and marketing performance

6 minute read

As an enterprise organization, do you know what your customers want? What they really want? Ask a corner shop owner and they can likely tell you everything about each individual customer’s behavior, needs and desires. They will be able to make recommendations based on that customer’s buying habits and family, and confidently cater to their needs or wants. Of course, smaller businesses benefit from an emotional, invested customer relationship, but how can you create this corner shop customer experience at scale for millions or tens of millions of individual customers?

As a business grows, so too does its distance from the customer. Even if your organization still has staff who interact directly with customers, the knowledge they gain from them will not always convert to perfectly targeted recommendations. It becomes even more difficult when the marketer is at arms-length from their customer base.

By collecting and unifying customer data from internal sources (e.g. web behaviors, email responses, transactions, demographics), and using third party data to plug in any gaps, brands are attempting to remove any black holes in the customer journey.

With the help of a Customer Data Platform, organizations can de-duplicate, cleanse and structure the data in a way that enables them to understand their customers in the same way the corner shop owner might. In some respects, you could say that businesses today have the potential to find out more about them than even the friendliest shopkeeper ever could!

Without a single source of customer truth, though, marketers will struggle to make use of the available data due to the difficulties of preparing, cleaning, accessing and analyzing it to gain the information needed to run campaigns.

Deriving value from customer insights

The disparate facts you collect about customers can be used for targeting and segmentation, but it is only once that data has been pulled together that you can start to develop insight. In other words, make decisions based on a genuine understanding of what your customers want, rather than on a hunch or your own perception.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, leveraging customer insights has hatched some memorable marketing campaigns, which have delivered impressive results. Among the benefits that can be gained by such insight-driven initiatives are:

  • Increased profits
  • Improved public perception
  • Brand recognition and engagement
  • Improved targeting

Here are some examples of imaginative campaigns that took customer insights and turned them into something great.

Increased profits

Sports apparel company Nike is known for being disruptive. Its latest innovation has been the Nike Plus membership rewards package, offered as part of the Nike Direct initiative and fueled by the Nike app. This promises all sorts of goodies, such as unique experiences, exclusive offers, expert advice to help you improve at your sport, and birthday rewards. The exchange? You tell them about your training program, hobbies, measurements and personal information, then visit the connected website to make purchases to ensure you get reward points.

Once the company knows your preferences, buying pattern and interests, they can not only improve their products but predict when and what you’re likely to buy, so they can offer you tempting deals. You get a personalized fitness programme and the products you want, while the company sells you more. Nike Plus has helped to drive a rise in Nike’s sales, which according to Digiday are predicted to be worth $16bn this year, up from $10.4bn in 2018.

Improved public perception

Another consumer insight campaign that proved to be winning, in every sense of the word, was Carlsberg’s ‘Probably Not’ campaign. The brand has long been known for boasting that it produces ‘probably the best beer in the world’, but recently decided that it could no longer ignore customer complaints on social media that the beer actually didn’t taste that great.

Not only did the company change its recipe, and rebrand the beer as a Danish pilsner instead of a lager, but also adopted the gutsy tagline of, ‘Probably not the best beer in the world. So we’ve changed it.’ While the consumer response to the new product remains to be seen, the brand won ‘Best Marketing Campaign of 2019’, as voted for by the readers of Marketing Week.

Brand recognition and engagement

Netflix. As soon as the name is mentioned you recognize the brand, know what it does, and can think of numerous friends who are satisfied customers. But what is it that has made the company such a powerhouse in customer engagement? Simply, it began with a laser focus on customer insights from within its own site, gleaned from its own customers, and maintains it to this day. What they watch, the options they sift through, the time they spend watching, what time of day they watch, whether they stop and start, all of this is noted and used to perfect the experience.

Users see personalized recommendations every time they log in. A detailed tagging system also means Netflix’s segmentation and targeting, when launching new shows, is second to none. The result? A phenomenal rate of retention and word-of-mouth recommendation. According to Gomez-uribe & Hunt 2016, 80% of what customers watch results from Netflix’s recommendations, and its customer retention rate of 93% speaks for itself.

Improved targeting

Finally, DirectTV identified a key audience segment through research that revealed 80% of US consumers moving into a new home were keen to try new products and services, while 60% ended up choosing a new service provider. The company therefore used USPS data to identify homeowners that had applied for a change of address and target those people with a personalized home page, offering a discount for new homeowners. This page outperformed the company’s normal home page, despite an exciting competition to win vouchers being launched on that page to boost interest.

All these examples share something in common – they have utilized customer insight to bring about an improvement in customer engagement, spending or perception. Marketing is becoming increasingly customer-led. It’s important to accept that your customers are the ones in charge of the buying process, and will not always walk a rigid, linear campaign path that you lay out for them. Customer insights can therefore be powerful, but they are unfortunately underused due to a lack of solid data foundation.

Even worse, marketers and businesses often make decisions using supposed insights that are incorrect or based on faulty or incomplete information. Only with a Single Customer View can you trust your data and use it to make the right decisions.

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