Make a move before your customers do

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Make a move before your customers do
Make a move before your customers do

As the steam rises from your Monday morning coffee, you eagerly sit at the computer to start the week – until you open the weekend's latest revenue report and the cold sweat begins. Sales are down to projections, the CEO is on line two and you need to deliver answers, quick. Forecasts were revised just one week ago; all indicators pointed upwards then, so what went wrong? How can the adeptly created models falter yet again?

It is no longer good enough to respond to our consumers' behaviors. We need to have the ability to predict them. We have become a reactive society in our marketing efforts, chasing after customer behaviors like mice after a hunk of cheese. I am not debating the indispensable value of core strategies which Arthur Hughes taught us through the fundamentals of recency, frequency and monetary value. These tools have served us well and we will continue to utilize them as the foundation of our marketing practices. That said my contention is that, as next generation marketers, we need to augment our marketing capabilities with new competencies to improve performance.

How we will accomplish this challenge is no small feat and will be a continuous learning process. As we know, past performance is the best predictor of future behavior. Consequently, building in a process to iteratively learn from our customers' choices, similar to Apple's Genius Bar or Amazon.com's search, will enable you to provide more customized offers to the individual customer. 

Other strategies include cluster and conjoint analyses, as well as enhanced segmentation. Digging deeper into a customer's profitability will permit you to make more informed reinvestment decisions in each individual customer, rather than solely measuring revenue. The more data points in your arsenal regarding buying behaviors, profit-per-visit and customer profiling data will better prepare you to develop more accurate forecasts.

One key piece of data that is often neglected is satisfaction surveys. Customer comments are often viewed as “soft” and thus routed to the obligatory service department where they are addressed in isolation. These sentiments need to be woven into the fabric of each department to raise awareness about how their efforts are being perceived. It is essential that we keep our fingers on the pulse of consumer sentiments by listening to their feedback via formal surveys as well as social media. Looking for patterns in customer comments both positive and negative will unlock revelations to enhance your customers' experiences and buying behaviors.

By applying enhanced data strategies, you will be able to provide the appropriate offers to the precise customers at the right moment. These efforts will enable your organization to better forecast demand by anticipating customers' next steps and optimize marketing spend so as to ultimately become a more profitable business.

Jeffrey Boorjian is VP of marketing at Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas.

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Founded in September 2009, Stirista is an integrated marketing agency that specializes in ...