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Developing new data strategies to drive growth

Almost every meeting with the leadership team of the client starts with the following questions:

  1. Where are the actionable insights?
  2. What is the business implication of all the data driven marketing that we are doing?
  3. Is my loyalty programme working?
  4. Is my CRM strategy the right one?
  5. How do I measure attribution?

The problem is – lack of a holistic strategy. There are multiple stake holders and their ability to collaborate is limited. Not for any fault of theirs or lack of effort. Its just that each team has their own ‘measurable’ KPIs and that’s what drives their actions. It’s ironic when teams with KPIs fail to deliver at an organisational level. The responsibility and onus for this will have to rest with the leadership team. And that’s why I cannot help myself and keep repeating – what is it that the organisation is trying to accomplish – in the short, medium and long term? That’s where clarity of purpose and a well-defined strategy comes into play. The articulation of the strategy is as important as the strategy itself. I love the way Amazon has simplified their strategy for each of their employees to understand and more importantly follow – ‘to remove friction, to make it easier for people to become and to remain loyal customers.’ They introduced algos that understand customer preferences and help them browse and choose accordingly, Prime – free same-day shipping, to reduce the friction of online shopping, they also introduced physical stores without cash registers and cashiers because that’s what the customer wants.

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud, Big Data, Analytics, IoT, MarTech and AdTech are driving this change. Along with technology, customer preferences and choices are also evolving at a fast pace. The decision is almost always never only about the product. It is about the entire purchase experience. Organisations and Brands that understand the fact that going forward reducing the purchase friction or facilitating the purchase will be a key differentiator, will win in the long term. The business issues mentioned in the beginning of this blog talk about all this. Leaders and Brand custodians will have to ensure that they are able to have the right framework in place to be future ready (its increasingly becoming more and more difficult to do that!).  Some measures that organisation need to take:

  1. Consolidation of data: All customer and service data points need to be brought together. This includes prospect and existing customer data. Focus on matching the business purpose with data points. One doesn’t need to drown in all the data.
  2. Stop over dependence or infatuation with past data: Sure, historical data is important to give you a sense of what has worked and what has not, but customers and competition both are evolving at a much faster pace. Constantly be aware of data that can be embellished or enriched from a completely unknown source. There are enough national surveys, government data, trends, qualitative research that can help embellish your data driven marketing strategy.
  3. Reduce choices for customers: This is counter intuitive but works like magic. Cut to the chase quickly. The customer expectation or desired customer experience is giving me a few ‘right’ choices, quickly and when I need them. Netflix, Spotify and Amazon do this very effectively. Remember the fact that customers have become very democratic and unforgiving. They will compare you to these best-in-class experiences and form an opinion about your brand. They will not base their opinion on a laggard direct competitor.

How does one go about delivering a superlative customer experience driven by data strategies? Organisations will have to get a few things in place to be able to do that –

  1. The Brand and Marketing strategy must dovetail into the Customer Experience strategy.
  2. Integrate Analytics and Modelling into the strategy.
  3. Develop strong customer identity management to help build context and content led strategies.
  4. Share more and more real time data with teams dealing with customers and empower them to take decisions.
  5. Get more intelligence – competitive, experiential, customer choices, trends. Use it to fine tune strategy. Get creative with data.
  6. Get the measurement metrics right. Move to holistic measurement. Align KPIs of teams accordingly.

To survive and thrive organisations will have to build these capabilities. We have reached a point where investments in MarTech, AdTech, Data and Analytics is not a cost component. It will be a business driver and probably the only way to stay relevant.

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