Most CMOs and agency executives will agree that the customer experience is the new battleground for brands. Those that deliver highly personalized experiences earn loyalty in an age when consumers have more choices and greater expectations than ever before. Brands that aren’t able to deliver ultimately lose customers. According to a report from McKinsey & Co., a quarter of customers will defect after a single unsatisfactory experience.
So if the customer experience is that important, why are brands falling short? Consumers say that less than one in 10 brands are delivering a superior experience.
For starters, the modern consumer is quick to turn the exception into the standard. When we, as consumers, experience the convenience of using Amazon to shop online or Netflix to stream videos, we begin to demand the same intuitive and personalized experiences everywhere else. Similarly, when we encounter brand messaging that is both subtle and relevant, we’re less appreciative of messaging that is neither of those.
Only companies that truly know their customers are able to deliver a high level of personalization and seamless engagement. And knowing your customers requires data — lots of it. Unfortunately, not many companies have access to the quality and quantity of customer data required to plan groundbreaking campaigns and drive truly impactful engagement.
Many data providers can exacerbate the problems that brands are facing when trying to reach consumers. Some providers are really in the business of creating cookie pools; you think you’re getting data on lots of different "audiences" and "people" to inform your messaging, but you’re instead getting data from the same people packaged up into different groupings.
Using this data, you end up treating a customer differently in one setting than you do in another, which ultimately leads to an inconsistent experience that leaves your customers feeling like you don’t understand who they are, what they want, or how they want to engage with your brand.
Other providers tend to assume too much from a limited dataset. Using one or two data points to draw sweeping conclusions is never sufficient and can ultimately alienate consumers. Chances are that you’ve visited a hotel or clothing website and subsequently found yourself bombarded by ads for hotels and shoes. This is frustrating — even more so if you already made a purchase or visited the site by mistake. Unsurprisingly, most consumers aren’t thrilled when they see that advertisers are clearly capturing their data and not using it in a way that benefits them.
Providers also tend to make conclusions based on online activity alone, without taking into account anything consumers do when they’re away from the screen. Sure, my online behavior can tell you a lot about who I am, what I want, and how I want to engage with your brand. It’s better than nothing, but it’s far from the whole story. You might be able to surmise that I’m in the market for a new home based on my visits to real estate websites, but if you knew that I was also visiting brick-and-mortar bridal shops, you’d understand that I’m getting married (or helping a family member who’s about to be married) and only just beginning to think about house hunting.
Finally, providers are notorious for relying on bad location data. Centroids, for example, fix locations to a central, easy-to-find spot on a map that can also be highly imprecise and might actually have no relationship to a customer’s real-world location. If you make ad buys based on that, you might discover that you’re advertising to a bunch of data center employees or to people who otherwise do not fit your target market.
Better Data, Better Results
Building trust with audiences means having high-quality data to support thoughtful insights and acting responsibly on that information. If a brand is acting on fragments of data that make incorrect, stereotypical, or even offensive assumptions about consumers, that brand will lose business. However, a brand that can collect a lot of good, accurate data and then act on that data in subtle but relevant ways will be able to compete with any company in the world. That’s the power of a holistic perspective.
You probably spend a considerable amount of time wondering how to find out what your customers want. The better consumer graph can help you take the first step by showing you who they are. That sort of technology is able to bridge disjointed offline and online datasets to give brands a comprehensive view of individual customers. This allows you to engage them with more consistent messaging, wherever they might be, as part of a true omnichannel campaign.
Better consumer graphs collect online data from proprietary text-mining algorithms using a page-level analysis to gain deeper consumer insights. That data can be combined with offline, category-level redemption data.
This data allows advertisers to find high-intent, value-seeking shoppers so they can maximize the efficiency and ROI of their media spend. Plus, synthesizing large amounts of location data from diversified sources, filtering out fraudulent signals, and interpreting the remaining information in the context of a map allows for more precision in identifying consumers who are likely to visit a store or its competitor.
While high-quality inputs are critical to your success, the insights you extract are just as important. Valassis has worked with plenty of data, both good and bad, and we know what’s worth spending money on and what should be ignored.
To learn about how Valassis can help you boost campaign performance and increase sales, download our whitepaper.