Historically, marketing has been all about the product; however, today most marketing teams are striving to put the customer first. Of course, the teams still want to drive sales, but following the theory of “customer-centric marketing,” they now place the individual customer at the center of marketing design and delivery rather than the product.
This shift started with the realization that there is no “average” customer. Customers have different behaviors and preferences — and this presents rich opportunities to move past a “one-size-fits-all” marketing approach and improve conversions and sales.
But making that shift can be easier said than done. After reorganizing a team around the customers, there’s still a gap in the tools and systems needed to achieve your customer-centric goals.
The problem? There are thousands of marketing tools, many claiming to support delivering “the right message to the right customer at the right time.” While your needs will differ based on your end goals, no matter what, when shopping for a tool to help your team bring customer-centricity to life, make sure you look for these three features.
1. Customer-focused lens
For the past decade or so, marketing technology has been all about Channel Marketing. Email, Display, Search, Social, Mobile — each channel with a dedicated team, dedicated analytics, and of course, dedicated tools.
However, today, the focus for marketing teams is shifting to the customer. Indeed, Forrester goes so far as to say we’re entering the Age of the Customer.
This shift makes sense, as many of today’s biggest marketing problems are customer-focused, not channel-focused initiatives. For instance, converting one-time buyers into repeat purchasers, raising them to be brand advocates and preventing customer churn all focus on the consumer as a whole rather than data from one individual channel.
The distinction might seem subtle, but the “channel vs. customer” difference exposes a key challenge with many marketing tools.
While the focus inside the marketing department has shifted to the customer, marketing technology has been slow to react. This has made it increasingly difficult for marketers to learn about their customers, as consumer data is siloed across various tools and systems and focused on channel-specific metrics such as Return On Ad Spend, open rates and click-through rates.
To make progress on customer-focused initiatives, marketing leaders need to bolster their stack with customer-focused tools, such as a customer analytics platform. When marketers have easy access to rich customer insights and a simpler way to launch customer-focused campaigns, they can begin to truly market to their customers, and not their channel audiences.
2. Easy-to-use, easy-to-access interface
To do their jobs, marketers need to understand their customers. Rich customer insights are a prerequisite to any high-level strategic analysis (e.g., which customer segments are heating up and cooling down, and what should we do about it?) or creative brainstorm (e.g., what messaging will resonate with our athletic customers?).
It’s ideal to use customer data to support all decisions in the marketing department, but that requires being able to access the data on a daily basis. The best insights in the world won’t be effective if marketers don’t know where to find them.
When in the market for marketing tools, look for an intuitive interface that allows the marketing team to zoom in on customers and segments to gather these types of answers — without needing the help of anyone else in the org.
3. Cross-channel measurement
Finally, a customer-centric marketing tool needs to measure success on a customer level. It’s not enough to measure the performance of a multi-channel program by simply looking at the last-click revenue generated.
Marketers need a way to measure the incremental impact on customer lifetime value of the programs they put in place. This requires a tool that analyzes data across the whole stack.
This is generally accomplished through holdout testing. By using a holdout control group, marketers can proxy how customers in a particular segment would have responded without the new marketing actions. Based on this knowledge, the team can understand the incremental impact of their communications and choose the approach that is leading to the most significant changes rather than just the one that is driving the most last-click revenue.
A tool with the ability to hold out control groups is key for marketers who want to measure the customer impact of marketing programs without needing to rely on other teams to run the data.
When marketers can aggregate data from every channel, easily find interesting segments, run more tests and analyze results on their own, they not only find many more tactics to communicate with their customers, but they find the right tactics faster.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.