Data Can Help Brands Own Their Consumer Relationships

j-pelino-ddtData-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 Jennifer Pelino, vice president of omnichannel media at 84.51°.

With the data and technology that’s at our disposal, marketing efforts should be moving to the next level of consumer connectivity. Personalization is game-changing, but most marketers are still focused on a generalized approach or a broad, segmented approach.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy to move to a sophisticated level of personalization, but all efforts are worth the value provided. Today, setting up a strong and value-owned media program is a necessity as consumers are more engaged in brands than the average category buyer. By delivering relevant, timely messages, sales will likely increase within the total portfolio, particularly if content is valuable to consumers and opportunities are identified for long-term growth.

Ultimately, these efforts should support new news and marketing of brands by connecting them to a high-value audience, who, based on their in-store purchase behavior, will be interested in the brand message. Surrounding the consumer via owned sites, email, banner ads, sponsored search, owned app and social content will yield a highly relevant universal, multitouch engagement with consumers.

The path to this highly engaged consumer-centric approach includes several crucial factors, including a strong brand steward, intimate relationship with consumers and investments in data and technology.

Strong Internal Leadership And Tech Resources

Brands must have a steward of the program to ensure that the relationship is being maintained with its consumers. The brand steward sets a long-term learning plan to help execute the vision. Setting up a learning plan can help brands establish the right number of resources and skill sets required. A learning plan can also help brands maintain resource continuity, high-quality standards, efficiencies and speed. 

In terms of technology, brands don’t need to do everything in-house, but they will need to build out a broader resource bank of analysts and solution leads who are knowledgeable about their business and owned media business efforts. The joint partnerships will enable thought leadership that is aligned to the program and ultimately benefits the organization.

Get To Know Consumers Intimately

Deep-dive analytics are needed for both online and offline behavioral data to better understand loyalty tiers within member programs and how their online activity translates into sales. Tracking how the program is delivering dollars to the business will drive greater understanding of how valuable households are across their lifetime, which brands they engage with, the role of the platforms and which methods reach members, such as paid, email or site.

The more robust the data set, the more options brands have for personalizing and increasing their direct connectedness with consumers. Quality acquisition starts first. It has been proven that there is a high correlation to incremental sales when purchase-based targeting is used. The first order of business to grow a base would be to embark on a six-month acquisition strategy against verified buyers of a brand’s products. This will give brands a baseline from which to test and learn from their current consumers, to segment and then reach out to a broader audience following.

Content Is Key 

After consumers opt in, they should immediately receive a “thank you” for signing up. The initial offer and messaging should be within three months of acquisition to reduce the risk of consumers disengaging with the program, negating any acquisition efforts. Consumers opting in should be enticed with the richest offers up front. Eventually, personalized offers will replace rich offers to drive engagement.

For ongoing email messaging, the communications should be simple, with a clear call to action.

Expect that every email will not be opened; brands can learn more about their consumers and their open habits by sending the same message more than once. Email content should also be tailored based on consumer response, purchase habits and category purchase cycles. These tactics will allow brands to engage consumers across multiple platforms. Many cross-channel studies have proven that reaching customers via a 360-degree approach will drive higher sales uplift. 

Close The Loop

Finding the right measurement partner is key to strategic and long-term initiatives. The right measurement partner should have a consistent approach with methodology, scale and a high single-source match rate to consistently measure the same consumers over time. Measurement partners should have the ability to time and align registrants to quantify the long-term sales impact generated by consumers after they register for programs.

Personalization should be tested in a closed-loop environment to scale what works and refine what doesn’t. Through closed-loop capabilities and granular data, the effectiveness of the activation at a topline is easy to assess, but brands can dig deeper. Working in small batches allows them to answer questions like: Did it work for everyone? Which brands were most effective? How did online and offline behavior change? Which content or touch points can we link to our desired behavior change?

Success with owned media programs, as with anything, is a series of small wins. Personalization done right doesn’t happen overnight. It takes energy but continuing to hone the program can grow return on investment twofold quarter after quarter as content, targeting and data sources are optimized.

While all this might seem daunting, the end results are what matters. The right connection with consumers will always draw the biggest benefits for everyone.

Follow Jennifer Pelino (@JenniferJPelino), 84.51° (@8451group) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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