Have you ever found yourself wondering, "Why did/didn't my customers (fill in the blank)?" Of course you have. To answer those big questions, many business owners turn to their customer marketing analytics. It can be a valuable tool to help direct many aspects of your business.
But is it possible that your current approach to customer marketing analytics might be in need of, shall we say, some switching up?
It's easy to think of marketing analytics as just charts and numbers, but expanding your definition could be just what you need to truly affect change in how you service the people you most want to delight. Including information about your customers as a whole—their wants, needs, drives, desires and behavior—can potentially lead to better service. It may also open the door to putting your customer at the heart of the data you gather for all your marketing efforts.
I sat down with two gentlemen who make deciphering data look easy—and fun, for that matter. Tom Webster (vice president of strategy and marketing at Edison Research) and Christopher Penn (vice president of marketing technology for SHIFT Communications) share their ideas on what you might be doing now and the benefits of rethinking your customer marketing analytics strategy.
The Perils of Starting With What Instead of Why
There's a reason why your customer buys your product or service. Odds are it has less to do with your service or product than it does about how they might feel when they've received its benefits.
This is the why behind their decision. When building a customer marketing analytics strategy, starting with what—your product/service—puts the the customer last. Webster says he's found it useful to put the customer first, which means starting with why. Yet this doesn't always happen.
"So much marketing starts with what—the thing I need to sell. Then it goes to how, [let's say] a white paper; to whom—people who…uhh…love white papers; and finally the why—I need to make my quota," Webster says.
That marketing approach isn't about customers. It's about things and services.
—Tom Webster, vice president of strategy and marketing, Edison Research
He prefers to take clients through a Cycle of Insight—a process Edison Research created that reverses the customer marketing analytics process to begin with why and then proceed to evaluating who, how and finally what.
“Starting with what you want to say inevitably produces product-centered marketing, much of which isn't very compelling," Webster explains. "The benefit of reversing the cycle here, starting with why and then who is that you'll never run out of content ideas, and those ideas will be human-centered, not product-centered."
So, to sum that up, starting with why puts the customer back in your customer marketing analytics. That's a decent reason to shake up how you go about collecting those analytics.
If you're curious about how starting with why could transform your customer marketing analytics process, here's Edison's four-step Cycle of Insight and the actions important to each step. Consider going through Edison's Cycle and see how it may shift what you do to create the desired results in your customer base:
- Why: "We are looking for the reasons why a customer does or does not buy your brand, product or service," he explains. "Not a single why, but as many whys as make sense."
- Who: "In this step, we are looking to quantify the whys and validate which ones are real and which ones aren't, typically with surveys," Webster says. "We use this step to identify segments/customer types, and quantify their habits and perceptions around a brand and its category."
- How: "Here, we want to quantify how the segments want to be communicated with," he continues. "This includes tools ranging from focus groups to ethnographic research on the high end to simply sitting down with your existing customers and asking their preferences."
- What: "This is where I will look at web metrics, marketing analytics and other measures of, essentially, what happened in the past," Webster explains. By fulling understanding the why, the who and the how, I can more fully understand why some marketing actions were successful and others not."
How to Pursue Your What
Once Webster gets his clients ready for what, that's where Penn comes in. As a specialist in digital marketing, marketing technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning, he's an expert in helping clients measure what—and in the most relevant ways to their brands and demands.
Once you've got your thought process on acquiring your customer marketing analytics reversed, Penn has a three-step process for determining the what specific to your pursuit and brand. And—here's a shocker—Penn also starts with why in his three-step process:
- Why are we examining the data?
- What will we examine?
- How will we perform our analysis?
Penn breaks down each step, and explains how you can apply his process to your search for customer marketing analytics.
- Why are we examining the data? "Analytics is about learning what's inside the data that will help improve our business," Penn states. "If we don't have a clear line of sight between data and desired outcome, analytics will just consume time, effort and resources. Ask yourself this key question: What action will I take from the analysis I want to perform?"
- What will we examine? "The 'customer' is an ambiguous, amorphous entity. For marketers, the customer is actually a prospective customer who may not have bought anything yet," Penn shares. "We have to ask what specific business impact we're solving for. "If we're focused on customer lifetime value in retail," he continues, "RFM—Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value—analysis could be the most important metrics to examine. If improving our sales pipeline is the goal, customer journey and attribution analysis are where we should focus."
- How will we perform our analysis? "Once we know our specific metrics, we perform our analysis," says Penn. "Tools and technologies such as data visualization, statistical analysis and machine learning all help speed us on our way to answering the key question, 'What happened?' Did customer lifetime value increase or decrease? Did digitally sourced leads go up or down?"
Now you may want to look at your approach to customer marketing analytics. Where do you begin?
If what is your starting block, consider the benefit of switching up your approach to begin with why. As Webster stated, this can help put you on a path to customer marketing analytics that are customer-centric instead of product-centric.
The win for you? You can put the customer at the center of all your marketing efforts, from analytics to product development. After all, the customer is the reason we all get to stay in business—and they deserve to be at the heart of all our efforts.
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