Digital isn’t about innovation strategies or disruption any longer. Digital is here. Digital is now and if you don’t have a digital footprint – you will lose your competitive advantage. Technology accelerates exponentially so companies need to be focused on the immediate implications of their customer data. This means that traditional approaches to planning and execution will be less effective over time; we can no longer predict the future because it’s already happening – right now.
If you consider that on average 30% of your customers (Gen Y) are digital natives who were born “plugged-in”, you also know they demand engaging with companies that are authentic, not holograms/mirages with a marketing front that belies their reality.
People can smell marketing waffle a mile off and demand authentic, direct and personal engagements moving from the transactional to interactional relationship. They don’t care about data or the state of your data – what they do care about is being understood, and they will transform their spending power where they notice effort from companies who “get” them.
At Effective Intelligence (EI), we believe that it’s simply not sufficient to focus on exposing, collecting, storing and sharing data in the raw. It’s what you do with it (and when) that counts. There is no future. Just the present and past. (Excuse us for quoting Nietzsche). In this new world, traditional processes and supporting tools have to change.
In order to successfully benefit from the existing data you have (and we expect that you have a lot of data), whilst also keeping up with the demands of Gen Y, you need to:
1. Place all your data efforts in service of your customers
If customers are willing to exchange personal information in exchange for more relevant and valuable offers, as marketers we need to live up to that promise by delivering contextualised offers at the right time. Serving customers with your data efforts means seeking permission, using data transparently and rewarding them for voluntarily sharing personal information, rather than abuse their trust.
2. Start with transactions, then add interactions
If you are unsure where to start, begin with the transaction. Connecting a purchase to an individual customer opens up tangible and immediate benefits – you can devise offers for cross/up-sell, gain wallet share and reduce churn. Moreover you can measure the impact of each one. As your analytical ability grows, start connecting the dots from the transaction to the interactions through social, mobile or web channels to build a robust view of the customer’s value and potential.
3. Build relationships based upon trust, reciprocity and commitment
Information is useful only if it provides insight that helps you strengthen relationship value. Gen Y are fickle and fussy but loyal to brands that builds trust through transparency, demonstrate commitment through recognition and deliver reciprocity through rewards. Data collected in service of relationships will pay dividends on the investment.
4. Treat data as a renewable source
Treat your data as a capital asset rather than as a marketing expense and use that asset to collaborate with partners who possess the expertise to help you build real relationships with your best customers.