The volume of data that is being collated globally by companies, organizations and agencies is virtually inconceivable, and that amount continues to grow at a brisk pace. Potentially, businesses have the opportunity to glean important insights that could give them the edge over the competition.
Once upon a time, customer service agents could blame a billing error, errant shipment or lost reservation on a "computer glitch." It did not take many years, however, before customers began to realize that computers did not make mistakes — humans were behind the problem, whether the mistake was caused by a data entry error or faulty programming. As a result, customers began to shift the blame to the person — regardless of job title or duties — who had the misfortune to answer the phone. Today, even though technology may truly be the culprit, such as when a server goes down or the agent cannot access data during an upgrade, many customers will still unleash a tirade on the hapless employee who is trying to assist them.
In fact, your customers are likely to blame your customer service representative for a bad experience and credit the representative for a positive experience. However, if you examine the points raised by customers in a recent study, you will notice that some of their complaints are related to technology.
You can call them tracking pixels, clear gifs, 1x1 pixels or web bugs. They have been in use for almost as long as cookies have been used to collect and store data about visitors to your website. In this, the era of big data and cross-channel analytics, tracking pixels seem like a terrific way to obtain the in-depth information that you need to assign attribution or offer visitors a personalized experience or provide that Holy Grail report you’ve been pitched from the latest company to contact you about the latest & greatest tracking technology. Used properly — meaning used in moderation — tracking pixels can fulfill their function well. The problem is that marketers tend to overuse tracking pixels to the extent that the site's performance is negatively impacted and tracking data is siloed across many different tracking pixel providers.
Marketing to customers in the digital age requires reaching them on their "channel of choice" in the proper context at the proper time. To do this effectively, you need a holistic, accurate view of your customer. However, a study, conducted in 2015, found that a mere 6 percent of the marketers surveyed have achieved a panoramic, single customer view. Without an integrated, cross-channel view of your customers, you cannot plan campaigns that offer the degree of contextual, consistent and relevant personalization that customers are increasingly demanding.
You cannot compile a single customer view by taking fragmented tidbits of data from separate touch points and attempting to compile them into a complete picture. One purchase, one tweet and one email from the customer do not tell you what you need to know. What about all of the other touch points? Has the customer visited your Facebook page, shopped in your physical store or interacted with your in-store kiosk? Does your customer access your website from his desktop computer or his smartphone? Did he visit your website to read your blog or search for product specifications? How long did the customer remain on each website page, and how many times did he return? How many orders has he placed, how much did he spend on each order and how often did he place an order? These are the types of questions you need answered if you want to create a single customer view.
You will face challenges when you move toward a single customer view. Marketers have identified the three primary challenges as insufficient data quality, siloed teams, and problems linking all technologies used. Fortunately, each of these issues can be addressed; although, it is normally best to break them into small, manageable pieces that can be resolved independently instead of attempting to handle the entire challenge in one massive push.
Not that many years ago, many marketers expressed resistance to the concept of leveraging big data for marketing efforts. There were the basic questions, such as what big data is and how it works. There were also questions about whether it had the potential to provide benefits that outweighed any possible risks. In the years since the term became prominent in marketing circles, a number of pioneers have blazed trails for others to follow. As a result, the marketing sector has emerged as one of the most ardent supporters of big data, embracing it completely.
Although big data is poised to be a dominant force in the marketing sector, questions remain. Marketers wonder whether big data has limitless possibilities or a defined ceiling. They question whether big data will continue to drive profits significantly. They are also curious about which advances in technology and methodology will affect leveraging big data in 2015 and beyond.
Companies are spending more money than ever on marketing analytics and mobile ads, and this spending trend is expected to increase in the next few years. The outlay for these two things is linked. Most marketers understand how much traffic they receive from mobile devices and the types of devices their visitors use, but many are lagging behind in tracking users across different channels and identifying the same users across desktop and mobile app usage. This data is vital as marketers operate in changing technologies, because understanding how customers engage with the brand allows greater efficiency in targeting ads and better marketing campaigns.
Understanding how customers arrive at a purchasing decision allows companies to spend marketing money wisely. Without the right cross-channel analytics, companies are left without the resources they need to make those decisions. A customer's purchasing journey may start with a TV ad, but the path rarely goes directly to the store from there. Customers may research a brand and its competitors online, often on multiple devices. They may interact with a mobile ad on their phones or tablets. While on their mobile devices or computers, they might get good word-of-mouth reviews from their social media networks. As interest grows, targeted ads keep customers reminded of the brand, which may then culminate in a purchasing decision.
Marketers are exposed to a bevy of buzzwords on a daily basis. Recently, there has been a great deal of attention paid to the terms multi-channel, cross-channel and omni-channel. In some people's minds, these are just three names for the same thing. In reality, although they share some similarities, the terms actually represent very different concepts.
As marketers, it is essential to know how to assign credit to the proper campaign. Without proper attribution, you have little way to know whether the dollars you are spending on a television commercial, print ad or other efforts are providing you with the necessary return.
In the "olden days," giving credit where it was due was relatively simple. The order form that customers mailed in carried a code that identified the magazine ad or catalog that had generated the sale. When ordering by telephone, customers gave an extension number that identified the commercial they had seen or heard. Discount codes or coupons could be tied to specific campaigns.
You have undoubtedly noticed that the behaviors of your customers have changed dramatically in recent years. Not only does technology now allow customers to shop whenever they want and from any location, but it also alters how they shop and what motivates them to make a purchase decision.