While digital marketing spend continues to grow, companies could be missing out on making full use of all the information at their disposal.
This is according to James McCormick, Forrester principal analyst serving customer insight professionals, who says: “The age of the customer is unfolding – an age in which customers, not brands, hold the balance of power, supported by the growth of digital.
“No matter how embedded your brand is in your customers’ lives, they have many ways to digitally interact with both you and your competitors and will move on if you don’t meet their expectations,” he warns.
According to McCormick, customer insight professionals remain overly focused on web analytics. However, today’s customers are interacting with companies across multiple channels and devices. Moreover, companies tend to build their online and offline customer channels in isolation of one another, creating further data silos.
“The personal touch is still important, but this needs to be followed through across all platforms,” he says. “Companies need to scale their relationships, not just their businesses.
“Fortunately companies are realising that they aren’t doing well. They’ve gone through the denial phase and are beginning to understand that technology alone won’t solve the problem, but how they use it and structure their teams around it could.”
In order to close the gap between traditional analytics and comprehensive analytics for all digital customer interactions, marketing and customer insight professionals must update their approach. Forrester refers to this as “digital intelligence”, which can be described as: The capture, management, and analysis of customer data and insights to deliver a holistic view of customers’ digital interactions for the purposes of continuously optimising business decisions and customer experiences across the customer life cycle.
At the heart of this shift is how professionals are engaging with data and then acting on it. McCormick says companies are often scared to make use of the data at their disposal.
“Behavioural data is not sensitive, so why shouldn’t you use it if it adds value to the customer? When I walk into a store, you don’t need to know my name to analyse how I behave and engage with your brand and, through this, predict my needs and develop offerings which will fulfil them.”
In this regard, spatial technology is proving to be exceptionally useful. Tracking customers’ behaviour by their connected devices or other spatially sensitive touchpoints is taking off in a big way.
Forrester’s Global Business Technographics Data and Analytics Survey, 2015 shows that the adoption of location analytics will expand from less than 50% of respondents in early 2015 to more than two-thirds within 12 months.
Customers are now actively using spatial technology to assist them. In fact, according to Google Trends, the use of the term “find the nearest” has nearly doubled in less than 24 months.
Add to this, the number of spatially-sensitive touchpoints is growing exponentially, which allows professionals to develop strategies to make use of the information. This even extends to how customers are engaging with competitors before they interact with your own brand.
A good example of how spatial data could be used comes from a New York City theatre.
The theatre monitored and analysed mobile traffic behaviour within the city to pinpoint the specific target locations of theatre-going audiences. It then delivered campaigns to key audiences within the theatre district, targeting hotels, restaurants, and other relevant locations – including competing theatres. Its use of spatial analytics helped it achieve uplift of between three and five times the benchmark click-through rate.
While digital intelligence is set to make a significant impact on how companies can differentiate themselves, McCormick warns that finding the right skills may not be easy.
“This requires the convergence of business and tech skills. Actuaries were the first data analysts, but the emergence of data scientists is taking over in this space,” he says. “We are seeing dedicated digital analytics courses at many tertiary institutions, but for now, this skill is still fairly rare.
“However, having the right skills is only part of challenge, implementing a solid data intelligence strategy needs to be leadership driven which is understood and supported at board level.”