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20 May 2021 / Opinion

Why data and insight are even more valuable to marketers right now

Ben O'Brien / Managing Director

We’re seeing a pace of change in customer behaviour that’s accelerated to unprecedented levels. With the context and pattern of people’s lives changing so rapidly, it’s hard to predict how things will change, never mind exactly where things will ultimately return to.

There is little doubt the current health crisis will have wide-ranging, long-lasting effects on the people of the world, businesses and the commerce they support. While it’s essential to deal with the human challenge and cost first and foremost, marketers are asking themselves how can brands adapt and add value considering this new reality.

Delivering value amidst contextual fluidity

While it’s possible to make educated guesses about what products or services will ultimately be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, changes in customer behaviours over the course of the coming weeks and months will be arguably the greatest ever known. The businesses that excel amid such disruption might not be the strongest or the most well-known, but the most adaptable to change.

Now more than ever, and at the onset of this paradigm shift in customer behaviour, it’s clear that brands and businesses need a view of their customer that is bang up-to-date. Marketers need an understanding of movements at both a customer-level and society-level to tailor their offer alongside fast-moving global trends.

In light of the disruption, a new digital customer will emerge. One who may have never or rarely before shopped or banked online and another who would never have dreamt of buying board games or expensive wine. These new behaviours may erode long-standing customer loyalties in favour of innovative brands who respond rapidly to their new needs.

Successful brands will adapt quickly to their customers change in lifestyle and priorities. Isolation can lead to feelings of boredom, so people are changing behaviours, such as turning to their smart phones to alleviate this. But without the right insights into changing customer dynamics or the ability to quickly and appropriately respond to those changes, brands can only be uncertain about what the best next action is to take.

Embracing change and uncertainty

It’s human nature to batten down the hatches at times of uncertainty, but this situation is unlikely to resolve itself soon, nor are customer behaviours likely to return to previous norms. That’s why embracing change, learning faster than the competition about changing customer buying preferences by joining the dots together is key to generating customer relationships that will weather the storm.

While there may be a downturn in customer spending, we’re seeing an increase in customer touchpoints and attention. As things change on a day-by-day basis, it’s more imperative than ever  that businesses have this insight on a more frequent basis to track customer behaviours across channels, products, devices, stores and online to see the full picture of customer activity.

Data-driven technologies that help to understand current and future customers’ needs are enabling brands to stay closer to their customers. Across the globe we’re already seeing the impact in the shape of shifting investment plans and hastily rearranged 2020 strategies. But without relevant and timely insight on which channels and investments are performing, decisions could be made in the dark.

Adapting to the ‘new normal’

Businesses need to invest in changing the depth, breadth and speed at which they can understand these global changes and be brave in implementing solutions aligned to the new world. The current global outlook has accelerated trends that were already developing, including investments in AI, data-driven marketing and advanced analytics. If brands can adapt and offer value in this time of uncertainty, they win long-term customer loyalty that provides value for years to come.

Models that are constantly refreshed and up to date with the latest data, setting brands up to track customer journeys in days, not weeks also opens up a world of opportunity. Data-driven attribution, hyper-personalisation and AI-modelling enable quick and precise predictions of customer behaviour, including the best next product to offer, how to minimise potential lapsers and which channels are the most effective.

There’s no doubt that data and insights can illuminate the process for marketers right now more than ever before, allowing brands to identify and assign value to purchasing touchpoints and replacing guesswork with clarity so they know which messages, campaigns and channels work, for which customer segments and why.

Data and insight has become steadily more powerful to marketers over the years – but now we’ve reached a crossroads and it is set to become ever more critical, this time in the span of weeks or months.