Keep it personal: five keys to successful marketing

Ask customers for personal details, they’ll want better service. (Photo: Shutterstock).

By Lori Bieda, Executive Lead, Customer Intelligence, SAS Americas

There was a time when customer intelligence would have seemed like an unattainable concept. In the era of  bricks and mortar, traditional retail was where it was at.  Where  mom and pop shops were the norm, and knowing your customer meant knowing their name and more. It was also about knowing where they lived in the community and, likely, what they needed when they came in your door.

Fast forward to a new era of bricks and clicks, where the family of customers have mushroomed to millions of customers and prospects who often are nameless.  We’ve come a long way from those days. Knowing customers personally is virtually impossible in a world where people can interact with your business from anywhere in the world, and where brands are borderless At the same time, customers still expect you to know them, and while they’re not always across from you at the point of sale, they’re giving you insight about their needs and preferences at every turn. Whether that insight is conveyed through loyalty programs, retail credit card purchases, online behavior or responses to promos and offers, there’s no excuse to not know your customers individually, even if you can’t know them personally.

Knowing what your customers want is just as important as knowing who they are. New research by Leger Marketing, commissioned by SAS Canada, has some important insights for retailers, marketers and any business interested in customer intelligence. The results show some interesting facts about what Canadians expect in return for their personal information. What we discovered is that consumer demographics is no longer enough information when it comes to knowing and acting on customer needs. Consumers expect more from the companies they engage in business with: they want personalized exchanges.

Here are some of the insights from the survey:

Canadians expect something in return for their personal information

  • The vast majority of Canadians—73 per cent — expect more tailored offers and deals in return for giving a company personal information. Marketers need to be aware of this very important stat. As Canadians offer up more information about themselves, companies need to start investing in the technology necessary to take that data and transform it into useful, deployable customer intelligence. Analytics and marketing automation solutions can help organizations not only store individual-level customer preferences, but take action fast and efficiently across millions of customers.

For marketers, opportunity is at your doorstep

  • Think you’re doing it right? Don’t pat yourself on the back yet. Even though 73 per cent of Canadians expect more tailored deals, only 37 per cent of those who reveal personal information say they actually get more personalized marketing as a result. What should be a simple trade-off of information—about age, email contact, income, postal code or birth date—for better, more personalized, marketing materials, has fallen short in the eyes of most Canadians. The good news is that organizing your customer data is easier than ever. Now is a great time to up your marketing game and give your customers exactly what they want, with more personalized offers and communication.   Converting insight into action starts with strategically integrating your information, and then leveraging customer analytics to extract key insights which help capitalize on customer opportunity.

You’re wasting more than paper

  • In a surprise finding, it turns out 52 per cent of Canadians have actually stopped doing business with a company because of a bad marketing experience. Today’s savvy consumer has a lot of choice, and many of them don’t distinguish between bad service, a bad product, and bad marketing. If something rubs them the wrong way, they’re going to find someone else to provide the services and products they are after. Bad marketing might sound subjective, but if you’re trying to sell a customer a product they don’t want, when they’ve already given you information indicating their preferences, that could be all it takes for them to go elsewhere. Bad marketing is more than just a waste of paper flyers: it could mean losing an existing customer.

The medium is the message

  • With so many means available to engage with customers, it’s important marketers pay as much attention to the medium as the message. Why? Because the data is clear: an overwhelming majority of Canadians, 86 per cent, prefer that companies communicate with them using their preferred channels. When asked how their favourite companies communicated with them, email was the top choice (73 per cent) followed by mail at 47 per cent.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel

  • Today, 60 per cent of Canadians say they would like to receive more personalized marketing material, while half of Canadians say they’d be more likely to buy from a company that personalizes their marketing. This means there’s a lot of opportunity to give customers exactly what they want. But before you can do that, companies need to put the analytics tools in place to maximize the use of customer data. Marketing to the 21st century customer means aiming at a shrinking target. Dwindling response rates, coupled with burgeoning do not solicit lists mean Canadian marketers need to be smarter with how they manage customer information and contact. Companies have fewer opportunities to capture mind share and wallet share. Leading organizations are tapping into the power of customer intelligence and customer analytics to create best in class client experiences that engender long-term loyalty.

You can learn more about SAS’s Customer Intelligence survey here.

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