Setting strategy before you have gained an insight into your customer base is a recipe for disaster. As The REaD Group’s Glenn Cook tells David Reed in this sponsored feature, insight plays a pivotal role in ensuring you build a customer experience that meets their needs - and yours.
“Letting the data speak” is the moment when your investment into data starts to pay off. “Insight is where you start to extract value,” points out Glenn Gook, group solutions, The REaD Group. “Insight evolves out of the data and then drives your customer or supporter management strategy.” From that perspective it is clear that the way the customer experience is designed and delivered hinges on what gets found out in the analytical stage.
“It is a cyclical process between insight and business strategy,” points out Cook. Often what the data has to say at this point can identify new opportunities - or potentially show that marketing has been looking in the wrong place. “The marketing strategy may be to go after 24-year-olds. But if you have no data to tell you they like your product, you can’t do anything,” he says.
Cook points out that insight should drive strategy, rather than the other way around. “A lot of charities have a core supporter base that is female, aged 55 to 65 and is typical ‘Middle England’. They are a large proportion of the base, but they will also have pockets of other types of supporter. You need to think about whether they offer the potential for growth,” he says.
Good insight delivers exactly that kind of business-focused output, telling an organisation both where it is now and where it could get to. Data-driven insight also provides a link between findings from research on preferences and attitudes and actionable communications that connect with those views.
This is especially important when using insight to define how customers will be managed at each stage of their lifecycle. Getting the channel mix and messaging right from welcome pack to win back can be significantly benefited by the right type of insight. Always provided the links between each stage have been understood and connected, that is.
Cook points out: “If you don’t know what you are going to do next and take six months to contact a customer after you have acquired them, you have lost that opportunity. If you use insight to look at what was successful in the past, the right timing for different products and whether you need to segment your marketing by age, gender or location, you can develop a really effective programme.”
Timing is often a stumbling block. Cook notes that many loyalty programmes have monthly stages built in which assume everybody in the programme joined in the same month, rather than being flexible enough to reflect their actual joining date, for example.
It can seem as if insight requires a substantial volume of data and significant levels of expertise. In one respect it is true - there is no upper limit on the data volumes which can go into the analytical process or the sophistication of the techniques applied to understanding it.
But Cook says it is important not to get dazzled by the process, rather than concentrating on the outcome: “There are tools like clustering and propensity modelling that are very clever. But marketers don’t need to understand how to use them. The trick is for your data and marketing teams to be able to communicate well. Good marketers won’t go near the data itself - they will be looking at the effect they want it to drive.”