Today’s consumers undertake complex customer journeys. Over a number of months, an individual might click on a display ad, visit a brand’s website many times, add products to a cart and abandon them, open a few marketing emails and perhaps visit their local store. Without the ability to track the full journey, though, the only customer touchpoints the brand may be aware of are the ones that brought them into the journey and got them to buy.
Effective cross-channel marketing requires all digital and offline touchpoints to be captured, which then gives marketers the opportunity to intervene in those moments and build stronger relationships that will speed customers towards a buying decision. The ability to collect all those touchpoints and act on them in an automated way can ensure every message, advert or push communication is based on the same intelligence and is able to reference the customer’s details, past interactions, behaviors and purchases. A Customer Data Platform (CDP) can help marketers to achieve all this.
The importance of a seamless customer journey in 2021
In a retail economy crippled by Covid-19, Amazon has seen record profits and, according to MarketWatch, collected more profit in the first nine months of 2020 than in the whole of 2019. It helps to be a one-stop-shop, but the real appeal of Amazon is its personalized and hassle-free customer journey.
Gladly’s 2019 Customer Expectations Report found that the overall experience matters more than the channel it happens on. They found that 54% of customers would rather wear wet socks than repeat themselves, 75% were more likely to purchase when they received tailored product recommendations, and 86% expected staff to know about all their previous brand interactions. However, 75% of customers reported their experiences didn’t match these high expectations.
This isn’t surprising since, despite an abundance of data reaching businesses through multiple collection points, such as their CRM, loyalty system, eCommerce site, website, Point of Sales and call center, many fail to make the most of this unique resource, due to each system holding a different fragmented piece of information about each customer. Our own Retail Study, undertaken in November 2020, found that 54% of retailers surveyed couldn’t track the cross-channel customer journey, while 41% couldn’t even track omnichannel spend. It’s no wonder, then, that 57% feared they wouldn’t be able to keep up with changing consumer behavior.
Rewards for perfecting cross-channel marketing
Brands like Amazon that exceed customers’ expectations for their overall experience won’t regret it. Financially, it makes sense to please customers, since there’s a much-quoted statistic that it costs 5x as much to acquire a customer as it does to retain one.
Wunderman Thomson Technology’s ‘Wantedness’ study found 79% of consumers said brands must actively demonstrate that they understand or care for them before they’ll consider buying. Furthermore, a post-Covid customer experience study of theirs found that 42% of consumers rated a seamless experience as a top priority, with 35% being willing to share more personal data to secure it. Gladly’s report also found that 70% of customers would be willing to pay more for better service.
Conversely, Gladly found 84% of customers will switch companies after three poor customer experiences, while Wunderman found that 46% of customers were less forgiving of poor online experiences now than they were before the pandemic.
How can a CDP improve your omnichannel marketing efforts?
Due to the growing importance of the seamless omnichannel customer experience, Gartner reported that its client enquiries into the role of Customer Data Platforms in multichannel marketing doubled between 2017 and 2019. Why? Because CDPs are purpose-built to ingest a business’s data from hundreds of siloed data sources, regardless of channel or vendor, and collect it into one big pool of company intelligence.
The CDP will cleanse and enhance this data as it enters the system, to improve its quality. It will then unify every scrap of information held on each individual, be that personal details like email address and phone number, customer account numbers and interactions, information collected by third party cookies or first party cookies about customer browsing habits, or transactional data (both offline and eCommerce). The result is a Single Customer View (SCV) and a memory of every customer that can be used for extensive analytics, to power automated and predictive models, or to create more personalized experiences.
This goes beyond marketing however. The SCV becomes the go-to reference point for any member of staff, from any department, allowing them to instantly trace the customers’ journey and understand their relationship with the brand. An in-store sales assistant will be able to identify upsell and cross-sell recommendations, or know what the customer has viewed or considered in the past, just as easily as a website operative. An SCV enables marketers to ensure messaging is consistent on all channels and helps to segment customers according to their interests, preferences, behaviors and attributes, so they will only be targeted with appropriate offers on their preferred channel.
What tangible benefits do marketers get from optimized cross-channel marketing?
According to our 2020 Omnichannel Marketing Excellence report, CDP users are 2.5x more likely to overachieve on their marketing goals, and downstream are 5x more likely to be using customer data analytics to support their triggered messaging and personalization, not to mention 3x more likely to personalize their website and eCommerce store using offline AND digital customer variables. Their customers are more likely to feel understood and valued, more likely to receive tailored recommendations for products they might like, and more likely to be tempted into buying through a well-aimed pop-up offer or highly personalized promotional email.
Omnichannel Marketing Excellence report findings webinar
To learn more about the findings of the report, watch this webinar with authors Andrew Campbell and Linus Gregoriadis, in which they outline some of the key insights and recommendations from the study.
As for the benefits a CDP can deliver in practice, Ted Martens, CMO of nature and wildlife travel operator Natural Habitat Adventures, explains, “BlueVenn helps us to unify all of the information that has currently siloed in these various different technologies or channels or locations around the company, bring it together into this Single Customer View, and then allows us to use that to personalize messaging to speak relevantly to our travelers, so that what we put out there resonates with them.
“It allows us to find the people that are most engaged with a certain type of content so that we can continue to curate them along that customer journey, and ultimately get them to book one of our trips. We can’t rely on a single marketing channel to deliver us new clients or create repeat clients out of the ones that we’ve had. We have to speak to these people in a lot of different ways.”
Budgeting for omnichannel success
As well, understanding where in the customer journey consumers are most likely to convert or churn, and what sources they usually come from, will help marketing decision makers to spend their budgets wisely. It will enable them to concentrate the bulk of their efforts and resources on fine-tuning the critical parts of the experience, optimizing weak spots, advertising in the right places, and generally working to maximize both conversions and the ROI.
So, in a nutshell a CDP will enable a brand to offer a customer experience that rivals Amazon’s – one where their past behaviors and purchases are known, their preferences and habits and taken into account, and the marketing communications they receive are connected and relevant. Amazon’s success, in conjunction with the previously mentioned over-achievement of marketing goals by Customer Data Platform users, shows that this type of modern, seamless cross-channel journey is one that customers want. And, as the age-old sales motto has it, what the customer wants, the customer should get!