Marketing has traditionally been perceived as a cost centre and defining an optimum marketing spend has never been that easy. Big companies spend huge on brand promotions or ATL activities. BTL managers are usually under pressure to justify ROI from each penny spent. The fact that BTL activities also promote the brand is very often ignored and all you have
to answer is the sales that result. Does marketing remain a cost center in true sense?
With experience, intuitions usually drive our judgments. Can technology be leveraged to derive an informed decision? Would better prospecting or understanding of customer segments, behavioral analysis, socioeconomic status, spending pattern, demographics, etc. help in turning customer’s footfall into sales? Can this insight aid in personalizing the campaign instead of keeping it open to masses? Will this personalization help in better engaging with the customer? What level of personalization can be achieved if we are targeting a huge customer mass? Will the response drive numbers? Let us look into these subjects a little more.
When we engage in any conversation, we listen to the other side. We learn from the inputs and understand the context. Then we speak in relevance with the context. The fundamentals always remain the same whether this engagement is with a friend or a customer. In an institutional scenario in which a company attempts to engage with its customers, the engagement persona from Alterian seems highly effective.
Listen:- Collect data from across customer interaction channels, monitor them and convert the data into useful information.
Learn:- Apply analytics to multi-channel customer data, derive intelligent insights and compile customer segments.
Understand:- Design a focused campaign which customers can relate to. Leverage insights to personalize the content and messaging.
Speak:- Deploy relevant interactions across the appropriate channels with the right content at the right time.
Listening is an attempt to gather data about mass customer universe from across the channels. A customer buying ‘X’ with ‘Y’, redeeming coupon or reward points, commenting on Facebook, criticizing on Twitter, writing a review in blogs, recommending a colleague, making a payment, asking for home loan, requesting an EMI for a transaction, defaulting a credit card payment, lapsing an insurance policy, flying a business class or anything that provides data that can be monitored and converted into useful information is a listening form.
Neither are two finger prints same nor are two customers. If a company is engaged with millions of customers, it is never likely that one offering will appeal all. Each customer is unique and thus has unique demands. However based on certain traits, customers with some similarity can be grouped as segments. Adequate customer data provides an opportunity to analyze insights about customer segments. Target segments can very effectively help in doing a up-sale or a cross-sale. For e.g. a set of customers in banking industry who, without fail, have paid home loan installments on time for last one year but do not own a car can be approached for a car loan. A set of customers who hold a current account but do not have a credit card provide an opportunity for credit card sale. Those customers who have shown a spike in their buying pattern may be the target for personal loans.
Personalizing the contents on one to one basis builds a foundation for effective customer engagements and retaining loyal customers. Analytics integrated with campaign management solutions can build personalized contents that no way look like a mass message. Wouldn’t you feel happy if your bank sends you a personalized happy anniversary message with a discount offer in a multi-cuisine luxury restaurant and also offers to book a table for two if you confirm?
Not all days are happy days. Recently at one of the marketing seminars I attended, Dr. Batra (known Indian clinical chain for hair treatment) was much talked about for his SMS campaign. Had I been bald, his SMS would have been of interest to me. Though he is spreading his awareness through his campaign, would bombarding a flood of irrelevant messages be termed a positive effect? In my personal experience, I stopped using a credit card from a major bank because I was frustrated by the number of calls I received from their customer care either for a balance transfer or for a loan on EMI.
A right content, at a right time, through a right medium is effective way to boost your sales. Technology has now transformed mass marketing procedures to effective personalized experiences. A customer can be made to feel these personalized experiences either through emails, SMS or snail mails. Now a day Bluetooth enabled campaigns are effective in mall premises. Contents engaging with a target segment customers can be put on identified places whether inside a store, on the streets or on social media as well. Once you have the customer insight, you are free to apply innovative ideas to attract or retain him.
No wonder these analysis also lead to insights about customer churn and fraud possibilities. Banking, Securities and Insurance industries are very much sensitive to market conditions, inflation rates, currency fluctuations and global economic scenarios etc. Could we forget the recession effect on global banking majors? Identifying risks and managing exposures are very much critical to organization’s profitability. An attempt to identify the segments which are likely to churn or default and drive a retention campaign not only mitigates such risks, though partially, but also helps in making balance sheets look better.
In spite of all these discussed, the critical success factor for a banking organization, or for that matter any industry having huge customer data, lies in its ability on how fast can it assess these insights and respond faster than its competition. Can the organization afford any delay due to its dependency on IT? Isn’t the technology expected to favor the end users? I shall attempt to discuss this in my next blog.