What’s next for customer acquisition? It’s a complex question, but one that marketers must confront as they face an increasingly digital world. While most marketers spend a major part of their budget on acquiring new leads, the fact is that for most retailers, their customer journey is broken. Some 98% of visitors never convert and of the few that do, 70% never come back. But the abandoned cart recovery is just one piece of the puzzle.

Roundtable Discussion: Turning Customer Data Into Real Money

For some, having a unified customer profile and making their customer data actionable has been a huge focus, but not all companies have a clearly developed plan about how to activate the data they already hold. Late last month, teamed up with Emarsys for a special roundtable session to explore the secrets of unlocking hidden revenue and turning existing customer data into real money.

The result was a fascinating discussion, which showed that within the marketing industry there were brands at many different stages when it comes to integrating channels to create a unified profile of customers. While many in the room expressed an urgent need to do more in the areas of data, some were already in a more advanced stage of integrating their customer interaction.

In this post, we will go over some of the key takeaways that came from this roundtable discussion. Enjoy!

1. Create a Unified Customer Profile

“Being in the pizza delivery business naturally gives us an advantage. With online ordering, we have to get names, phone numbers and addresses so that we can match every singularity of my customers’ behavior with the data. It enables us to tag along with that big demographic of new customers online.”

Collecting customer information is one thing, but leveraging marketing data to understand and identify individual customer needs to deliver a highly personal service is another.

With the data explosion from the web, a unified customer profile is one valuable solution for integrating online and offline channels. “A lot of brick and mortar stores find it difficult to capture data,” said Andrew Hui, head of marketing at Starbucks Hong Kong and Macau.

2. Send Personalized Messages

“The good thing is that we have started already. We launched our mobile loyalty program two years ago and have established one-on-one marketing to make sure we are sending messages they’d like to receive.

“But then there is more to do in terms of integrating different data sources. So a unified customer profile is necessary down the line.” He said a survey from Starbucks US showed 47% of its customers favored Starbucks because of the connection between staff and customers.

“A unified customer profile is something that can facilitate that connection. It accelerates the process of gathering customer information; it helps our frontline staff to remember customers.”

3. Track the Customer Journey Across Platforms

Collecting customer data, however, is harder for luxury brands in a market where consumers have been given too many choices on goods. “If you’re lucky, a customer will buy two to three watches a year, but they have 70 brands to choose from,” said Brian Pemberton, director of strategic marketing for Geneva Watch Group. For Hong Kong’s Cafe Deco Group, discounts and promotional campaigns are a critical part of its direct marketing program.

“We distributes EDMs on a monthly basis with different promotions and that gives us a chance to track customer performance,” said Sheila Chan, director of marketing and PR at Cafe Deco Group. But the customer journey is different across multiple digital platforms, for example, behaviour on tablets is different to mobile.

“When people browse on their mobile they’re mostly in research mode. So the experience on mobile needs to be different than a web experience,” said Daniel Hagos, client success team leader at Emarsys.

As a multichannel retail consultant at Harvey Nichols, Charlotte Gilmore addressed the importance of the ability to adapt local markets with global contexts. “Many international brands are facing the challenge of how to provide a united global image to customers. “When customers log into your website they are expecting the same engagement with your brand, and therefore, they’re expecting one consistent experience so that no matter the same and the brands would know their preferences.”

Domino’s Lam agreed. “It’s ideal to have a global platform, but it is hard to execute. “There’s a lot of localization that needs to be done for local markets. Do you have the back-end infrastructure to support it, it’s a big challenge.”

And that challenge boils down to the limitation of networking technology. “The technological challenges to integrate one solution across markets are huge,” said Stuart Barker, country manager of Emarsys Hong Kong. “Ultimately we can never have one single product that can sell across the world, and certainly we don’t have that with mobile communications.

4. Establish Core Elements and Values

“Companies should have core elements like brand values, but then you need to have a team and place that you can live the brand value in the best way that they can in the local market.” A single global experience is difficult, admits Betty Lam, senior director of e-commerce and digital at Fossil Asia Pacific, particularly when it comes to pricing. “We price the products differently in different markets, and it’s very hard to ship across the border as tax and currency differ from one country to another. That’s the biggest challenge we have when we do e-commerce.

Acquiring data online could be fast, but the quality would not be as good as the data we collected at point of sales. We had a survey showing that customers would be more willing to share their information with a good shopping experience and good services.”

Acquiring data online could be fast, but the quality would not be as good as the data we collected at point of sales. We had a survey showing that customers would be more willing to share their information with a good shopping experience and good services.”

Starbucks’ points-based loyalty program across multiple platforms has been a successful rewards system and an engine to customer data acquisition that Hui takes pride in. “We’re more in a people business than a coffee business. Being able to deliver that human experience is really important. Thanks to technology and our loyalty program, at least when our customers swipe their loyalty cards we know who this customer is.”

5. Take Your Online Customer Service to the Next Level

In the digital space, social forums can unlock great potential for brands to forge a trusting relationship with online users in order to acquire more personal information. At Cafe Deco, a lot of manpower has been put into social media management.

The first thing in the morning for my team is to check our social media sites, and make a pledge to respond to comments within 24 hours,” Chan said. “When customers make comments, they want to be heard and they expect their comments to be responded to within one day “Once you get on the social media journey you’d better be prepared to take your online customer service to the next level, such as preparing answers to comments. Otherwise it could easily backfire.”
Learn how Emarsys can help you capture customer data automatically across every possible interaction.