Marketing That’s Good for Consumers is Good for Business

Funny thing about advertising: When you enjoy it, it’s entertainment. When you need it, it’s a service. When you get a great deal, it’s a compliment to your own shopping prowess. But when you don’t love it, it’s an annoyance at best and a dastardly conspiracy to distract you from the finer things in life at worst.   

While many bemoan the double standard, I say it’s a rallying cry for the data-driven marketing industry. The more relevant and helpful we are in our marketing and advertising, the more value we provide to consumers, the economy, and, of course our bottom lines. I recently spoke on an industry panel about setting business objectives. While we all talked about the importance of staying focused on measurable results that roll up to specific KPIs, we didn’t all immediately get to the point of placing the customer at the center of our marketing strategy.

Marketers who focus on business objectives that serve the customer are more likely to produce advertising that sells.  It’s not always easy to do, but it’s imperative in our data-driven world where consumer trust is paramount. Responsible use of data and respecting consumer choice and permission must be central to any business objective-setting process. Data governance is not a “nice to have.” It serves the bottom line and consumers best when integrated into the objective-setting (and budgeting) process.

We may think of online firms, such as Amazon and Netflix, as the most customer-centric companies. Those are great examples, but by no means are customer-centric companies limited to e-commerce firms: Capital One, Harrah’s, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Macy’s, Nike, and even IBM are also examples of companies that are fairly customer-centric. 

How do you become customer-centric? First, figure out the demographic and buying profile of your best customers, as well as the motivations that drive them. Score customers based on some sort of LTV calculation. Keep these algorithms updated and in synch with your business model, marketplace, and competitors. Not all customers have the same value to your organization, so don’t treat them that way. And any data used to identify and connect with customers and prospects must be governed by responsible marketing practices, which are based on the levels of transparency, choice, and notice that make sense for your business.

Unfortunately, a lot of marketers think this is just too complicated. They don’t take advantage of automation and campaign management tools, and they use a one-size-fits-all formula to address all their customers that doesn’t vary based on business model.

A repeatable process for real-time, multichannel optimization can make an enormous difference in how each campaign performs overall and within the overall marketing mix.    Business objectives must be set with the customer experience and loyalty in mind to optimize your use of data and improve your results. In doing so, we make our marketing and advertising worth watching, experiencing, sharing, and discussing. We encourage response and action. We engage customers and prospects in meaningful interactions across channels.  While no-one likes generic advertising, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s generic is another man’s helpful. Responsible use of consumer data will make all the difference—but only if we keep the customer’s needs and interests at the forefront of our strategies.

How are you using data to connect with customers, and set stronger business objectives?

  Stephanie Miller is VP of member relations and chief listening officer at the Direct Marketing Association. She is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences.  A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue.
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