Brands Need A Data Strategy That’s In A League Of Its Own

tonyData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Tony Blankemeyer, partnerships lead at 84.51°.

Spring is in the air, and the Major League Baseball season is in full swing. In baseball, you can’t score a run for your team unless you get on base.

Customer loyalty can be likened to earning runs. By maintaining a high on-base percentage, the odds of scoring improve. To earn loyalty with customers, brands must make them feel appreciated and build up their trust. They must consistently deliver positive customer interactions or experiences to win loyalty.

As any large organization knows, developing customer relationships like this at scale is no easy feat. This is where the use of data and technology can be used to help.

With a growing number of potential customer touch points and thousands of data sources available, it’s easy to take your eye off the ball. So before swinging for the fences, brands need to start with the fundamentals, then build up their roster of information to all-star status.

First Base

Whether it is a B2B or B2C, companies need to lead with their customers. In today’s environment, it is imperative for companies to have a strong understanding of who their customers are. What data can be leveraged to understand their needs and desires?

Obviously, customers do more than buy a brand, so how and where else do they shop? How do they interact with various online mediums and channels? Are they engaging with digital efforts? What demographics and psychographics could provide more actionable data for a team?

Enriching customer data and evaluating their behavior and preferences will put brands on the road to personalization.

Second Base

For a product company, having a comprehensive view of its products and their associated attributes is critical. This data may include manufacturing detail, product characteristics, features and functions that are important to customers.

While this may seem obvious, different data sources and repositories have different formats, attributes or tags. Even worse, there may be gaps in relevant product data altogether. Understanding a product’s makeup can help positioning within a category and inform how its benefits are communicated to the end user.

Third Base

I’ll dedicate hitting a triple to all other relevant third-party data: additional sources of information that can be incorporated to better understand a business. When stepping outside of a product and company, what are the macro- and micro-level economic conditions that may affect customers or a business? Is a certain region enduring employment hardships, changing the discretionary spend of its community members?

Some markets may be more mature than others, with people at different stages of the customer life cycle. What other spatial analysis can illustrate the environment for customers or stores? Do weather, traffic or special events correlate with sales? When reviewing available data sets that are, brands should try to understand what makes them unique and build hypotheses to gauge their value.

Driving It Home

Every time a brand wants to expand its data assets, it must evaluate how these new elements will round out its understanding of the customer, its stores, environment or competitors.

Obviously not all data is equal. One of the key activities for data management is prioritization –  not only ranking what data is most important for collection, but also how it will ultimately inform key stakeholders’ decisions about the business.

If the last 10 years of technology have taught us anything about analytics, just because we can collect the data doesn’t mean we should display every metric. It is not scalable and, frankly, it is not useful. Every data set brought in should have an application that helps drive a business objective forward.

Rallying around the customer will enable better preparation to engage with people at various stages of the customer journey. By having the context of customers’ behavior and the environment, brands can find ways to enhance the customer experience by meeting people where they are and helping them with where they want to go. That’s the loyalty ballgame.

Follow Tony Blankemeyer (@tblanx), 84.51° (@8451group) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger).

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