How Savvy Marketers Transform “Big Consumer Data” into Customer Wins


ImageFor years the promise of data” unlocking a treasure trove of insights and advancements has been the subject of countless headlines. And while the hype around the topic hasn’t subsided all that much, the hope around what “big data” can deliver has largely gone unfulfilled. That is, with the exception of an unlikely team within the organization – the Marketing department.

ImageFor years the promise of data” unlocking a treasure trove of insights and advancements has been the subject of countless headlines. And while the hype around the topic hasn’t subsided all that much, the hope around what “big data” can deliver has largely gone unfulfilled. That is, with the exception of an unlikely team within the organization – the Marketing department.

While many groups across the organization have focused on the need for significant data scientist operations to extract, synthesize and translate the massive amount of data spanning an array of fractured information sources, the Marketing team for many leading brands has raced ahead of the curve thanks to technology advancements that don’t require teams of data savants.

These Marketing groups are leveraging advanced Consumer Management platforms, which facilitate unprecedented customer intelligence to set strategy, guide decisions and ultimately earn loyalty. As other groups across the organization wonder about the “what ifs” with “big data,” savvy Marketers are conducting digital consumer ethnography to understand customer actions, preferences and tendencies across fragmented systems and data sources, which is revolutionizing how brands identify, understand, engage and ultimately win customers in the long run.

As shoppers continue to get savvy with specs, reviews and prices instantly at their fingertips, the requirement for Marketers to understand their needs, wants and tendencies in order to deliver relevancy has never been greater.

Big Barriers

Here are five barriers most Marketing teams face in achieving genuine customer insight:

Fragmented Data

Given the spectrum of channels consumers use to interact with brands today, from in-store point-of-sale systems and ecommerce platforms to mobile applications and social networks, there is a non-stop flood of customer data across divided systems. Centralizing and organizing this data is a daunting task that has many IT groups asking their heads and throwing up their hands when Marketing asks for a solution.

Limited Segmentation

While today’s CRM and marketing systems allow for customer segmentation, the result is generally simplistic grouping outputs that don’t deliver useful insight to facilitate the development of strategic campaigns. This is largely a function of data gaps created by the organization’s disparate systems.

Basic Personas

Along the same lines, understanding customers is often limited to simple profiles rooted in general demographics rather than expanded views into the consumer’s purchase behaviors, shopping tendencies and social interactions.

One Dimensional Engagement

Again, typically a function of lacking data and capabilities, resulting engagement campaigns often treat every customer the same, delivering the same message and offer in a “one size fits all” approach, which can not only erode customer relationships and brand equity, but also revenue and margin.

Lacking Strategy

With this void of understanding and capability often comes a lack of strategy. Given this, many brands are tactical by default due to these gaiting factors, which leads to questions around the related efficacy, investment overall ability to identify, understand and engage the customer base.

Deep Impact

Here are five ways savvy Marketing teams are enhancing their impact on their organizations:

Centralized Data

Through the synthesizing and normalization of data across fragmented sources, Marketers can now analyze and understand the flow of consumer interactions at each touch point providing a 360-degree view of customers in real-time.

Advanced Segmentation

Marketing teams can now not only uncover their Most Valuable Customers (MVCs), but also understand their differences and driving factors across dimensions like frequency, volume, channel and preferences across SKU, timing and location, among other dimensions.

Deep Understanding

One of the greatest benefits form advanced customer intelligence is the clarity it provides to develop detailed personas within consumer segments based on the actions, behaviors, tendencies and interactions of each persona. This not only helps Marketing understand when, how and where to engage these consumers but can also unveil key segments that were previously unidentified.

Multi-tiered Engagement

Among the most valuable aspects of advanced Consumer Management technology that Marketers point to is the ability to build concurrent tiered engagement levels that address differing segments, allowing for individual customers to be treated as such. This also allows for tailored approaches with messages, offers, channels and even products.

Strategic Focus

Through all of these benefits Marketing is fundamentally able to develop an insightful and actionable strategy built on customer understanding and pertinent interaction. This delivers relevancy to customer, building trust and ultimately earning loyalty and perhaps even evangelism.

Getting It Done

To effectively take full advantage of the wealth of customer intelligence across in-store, online, mobile and social channels, Marketers are unlocking the value of “big consumer data” with advanced Consumer Management technology that centralizes and synthesizes data spanning disparate systems, including in-store POS, ecommerce platforms, mobile applications, middleware platforms and social networks. This, in turn, delivers powerful intelligence that can be used to identify and understand customers with advanced segmentation and sophisticated personas.

From there, effective strategies can be developed based on targeted, relevant engagements to motivate customer behaviors, earn loyalty and even build evangelism for the brand.

The trap many Marketing teams fall into is the myth that they need an army of data scientists and massive technology budgets to achieve all this, which is an impossibility in most organizations.

This simply isn’t the case. In fact, many premier brands are leading the charge to transform “big consumer data” hype into reality with affordable technology that is free of data scientists. This not only delivers the organization unprecedented understanding and strategic insight, but also an unmatched competitive advantage to win customers. 

Mark Harrington is a strategic advisor who guides founding and executive teams in overcoming challenges around strategic marketing, client retention, competitive differentiation and customer intelligence. His experience spans 25 years of strategically advising brands from Disney, Google, Toyota and Verizon to startups like, Ecount, Infonautics and ListenLogic. He's written for leading publications including Entrepreneur, CMO, Wired, MarketingProfs, CMSWire and Wise Marketer, catapulted an array of pioneering innovations, served on an array executive teams and been integral to exits to brands like eBay, Citi and Target worth upwards of $600MM. You can follow him at @mark_harrington on Twitter.