Accurate and actionable customer data is the key to better marketing. This is true in ordinary times, but even more so during challenging ones, like the business environment we're all now facing with COVID-19.
Consumer habits have dramatically shifted recently in regards to what they're buying (essentials) and how they're buying (online shopping), which has likely skewed the results of your recent marketing campaigns. It's likely that these recent shifts will be permanent for some consumers, while others may be looking for a return to "normal." Now more than ever, it's important for brands to understand shopping preferences and behavior at the customer level.
In order to provide consumers with the most accurate and engaging offers possible – that is, to deliver the right message at the right time and in the right channel – analytics is essential. Analyzing data at the customer-level can help marketers in three key ways:
1. Build loyalty for your products and brand. By uncovering insights into your customers’ shopping habits and responses to marketing outreach, you can better engage them with personalized outreach.
2. Implement more effective cross-channel marketing. By analyzing data such as email response rate, website visits, and usage of promotional offers (just to name a few), you can understand which content appeals most to which customers and where they are most responsive to it.
3. Create more personalized experiences. Research says that over 90% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize them, remember them, and provide them with personalized offers.
But what about times that are extra-ordinary, like now? A recent MIT Sloan Management Review article noted, “COVID-19 is going to cause an economic recession. The only question is how deep and how long it will be — and which industries will have a hard time recovering to their previous levels of economic activity without major disruptions and which businesses will survive and thrive.”
Why customer data analytics is crucial in extra-ordinary times
Right now, consumers are looking to retailers to more clearly demonstrate their value as they pare back their spending in anticipation of a recession. So, how can customer data analytics help with this? And how can it set marketers up for the “new normal,” whatever that may be, post-pandemic? We think it will require a shift in mindset.
Marketers are used to basing their decisions and forecasts on fairly lengthy historical data, derived from the customer data they collect. And while using customer data to build brand loyalty, implement effective cross-channel marketing, and create more personalized experiences is still best practice, in uncertain times like these, a years’ worth of past behavior may no longer be the best predictor of customer response. Marketers need to stay much more in “the now” and be able to respond quickly to changes in the marketplace.
This is where customer data analytics comes in. If you have a centralized system for all your customer data, both historical and real-time, you should be able to quickly analyze that data for up-to-date insights and to make informed projections on what your customers want. You can then deliver the best experience possible for each customer, given their individual (and likely, changing) situation and preferences. Plainly put, the data won't lie.
Take this time to learn about how your customers are feeling and behaving during these challenging times. Accordingly, be prepared to act quickly to adapt to any changes you see, which during these times are likely. Daily news can change consumer preferences and behaviors seemingly overnight, and can have a big impact on how you engage with your customers.
Do you have the right tools in place to respond quickly? A customer data platform (CDP) can help provide a single, unified view of your customers, and keep you continuously updated on that view as new data becomes available. Is this the time to look at a CDP for your organization? Let’s start a conversation about it today.
 Gartner, “Early-April 2020 Update: Marketers, Solve for Consumers’ Most Urgent COVID-19 Fears,” Consumer and Culture Insights Team, March 30, 2020.”