Data Is a Marketer's Best Asset

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Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News
Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News

Direct marketers have a knack for using customer data. It's a valuable skill of increasing interest among marketers of every ilk. From advertising creatives to social strategists to inbound specialists, marketers across the industry are harnessing data now more than ever to inform their decisions and improve their results—and liking it. Proving the performance of their work, making better decisions, and gaining unique insight into their customers' behaviors and preferences are both powerful and rewarding. Data-driven marketers are creating a virtuous cycle of information-action-results-change that leads to ongoing performance improvements and increases in customer engagement, loyalty, and sales.

In fact, the growing interest in and use of data among marketers is presenting new opportunities for building and bolstering customer relationships. With that, however, comes challenges like managing customer data privacy, sharing data across the organization, and maintaining consistent data quality.

Those aren't the only data-related issues that marketers face today. Big Data is the current shiny object when it comes to data-driven marketing, but there are other important issues that marketers must stay focused on. These include learning to think like data analysts themselves and dealing with a growing shortage of highly skilled marketing analysts (see “4 Data Issues Marketers Should Not Ignore”).

Marketing as a service

The juggling doesn't end there. One major trend that industry insiders suggest marketers take action on is the use of contextual and intent data in real time to prompt targeted offers and communications. Another is the shift toward a fully integrated marketing  approach. Both, experts say, are ways to prevent customers from defecting to more forward-thinking competitors (see “Overlook This Data Issue and Lose Customers”).

Marketers who take on these challenges and use customer data as the asset that it is can shift marketing to a true customer service. Consider a recent call I made to Citibank for information about one of my accounts. After satisfactorily providing the information I needed and completing a transaction with me, the agent continued the conversation. Surprisingly to me, he had a holistic view into all of my accounts, including my mortgage and loyalty points. (Yes, I've been in the business long enough to know that even—sometimes especially—the largest companies are plagued by siloed customer data.) This holistic view, and certainly some robust technology, led the agent to make me a highly targeted, relevant offer delivered within context of the conversation. I declined, but the offer was certainly right on the money, pardon the pun.

It's that level of relevance that elevates marketing to a strategic asset. And the only avenue for getting there is data.

That's why analyzing customer data is no longer just the purview of statisticians and analysts. Marketers looking to gain an edge are getting in the analytics game themselves. They're not just rolling the dice; they're using data and playing to win.

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