Marketing to a customer segment of one

Marketing success today requires a unification of customer information across silos, according to Thunderhead CCO Marchai Bruchey. “There’s no shortage of information,” she said when we spoke recently. “There’s a shortage insight from it.”

Bruchey explained that marketing leaders need to link systems of record and systems of engagement to ensure delivery of relevant, timely communications. “More and more marketers are struggling with how to meet customer where they are,” she said.  “They’re trying to determine how to map the customer journey so they can meet customers at the right place.”

Often, the data to do so is there, it’s just not connected in a way that enables marketers to gain the necessary insight from it. “If marketers don’t have the ability to connect their data, then their customer communications are just a set of interactions, not a journey or an ongoing conversation.”

One reason for this growing interest in using data to better connect with customers and create those ongoing conversations is a similarly increasing interest in customer centricity among marketers and the companies they serve. “We’re finally starting to see customer focus,” Bruchey said. “Marketing is more than customer acquisition. It’s also about retention and customer value. Consequently, we’re seeing some CMOs moving to become CCOs instead.”

But this evolution isn’t about being touchy-feely. It’s about creating profitable customer relationships and improving marketing performance through increased relevance. This means tracking and measuring the results of all these efforts to connect and converse with customers. “Are we measuring the right thing?” Bruchey asked, adding that to determine what to measure, marketers need to have clear goals. This includes knowing what offers each customer group receive and then tracking what actions customers take as a result, and when. One reason for doing so, she said, is to avoid wasted interactions. For example, don’t try to sell customers something they already have. Another reason is build an understanding of customers’ behavior and preferences that will help improve the relevance of communications with them over time—in a way that increase customer engagement and strengthen the customer relationship.

“In face-to-face interactions you can see customers’ reactions; but in the digital world you have to use behaviors and other triggers to understand how to “humanize” interactions,” Bruchey said. “How does what we do impact the customer and the brand over the long term?”

According to Bruchey, marketers are doing well at optimizing each channel—but not conversations. And that’s where the real potential lies, which is why customer data will continue to grow in importance. “‘Would I make the same decision or response if knew you what I had done previously as a customer and communicated to me based on that information,’” Bruchey asked. “‘If you knew I spent an hour on your site, how would you respond differently?’ This type of insight will fundamentally change how we market. We’ll no longer market to a group, but to one customer at a time.”

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