Data-driven anything is an awesome concept. To organize and optimize our businesses using (perfect) data that always tells the truth about what our customers want and need. It would increase the freedom of our employees to contribute (as long as it’s data-driven) and decrease the need for “parental-management” and the toxic “highest paid person’s opinion.” However, iIf you’ve been involved in an organization trying to adopt data-driven marketing, you’re probably aware of the practical problems that arise. To put it mildly, we’re not there yet.
Over the past few years, I’ve identified some prerequisites needed to create a real data-driven culture. In the next few days, I’ll post them on my blog, starting with the first one today.
1. Align your Marketing Department with your Customer Journey
I’ve seen too many in-house marketers that are channel specialists and behave like specialists. By aligning your in-house marketing team with tools and channels you’re setting your company up to create marketing silos. You are deliberately making people focus on tactics and tricks instead of the customer and marketing strategy.
Unless you are a giant corporate that has the resources to create “internal specialists teams,” it makes no sense to align your team around something like “Paid Search” or even “Online Advertising.”
Your marketing teams should be aligned around the customer journey and the customer mind-state throughout that journey.
If we look at it from a high-level, you should have a team focussing on “Acquisition“, a team focussing on “Conversion“, a team focussing on “Retention“ and a team focussing on “Advocacy“. This will differ per business type, but I think this gives a practical way of looking at the different tasks within the marketing team while aligning them with the Customer Journey.
Those marketers should be concentrating on customer insights only and truly understand what their potential leads or prospects are experiencing when they are trying to solve their problems. Only after understanding that, they should work on a marketing strategy that fits those needs and pick the most relevant channels and deploy the most effective tactics.
The Acquisition Team
The core focus of this team is to grasp the attention of the intended customers-to-be by being as relevant as possible, ideally when the prospective client is either actively looking for a product like yours or otherwise when they are susceptible to your offering.
It is tempting to have online advertising specialists work out a strategy based on “potential reach” and utilizing a “seeing what sticks” way of advertising. This sets you up for failure, as you are making your tools and tactics lead your marketing strategy.
Instead, you should focus on the customer journey and their mind-state when searching for a solution like you’re offering. Only after defining what the potential customers are looking for and how they want to be served, should you decide on the channels, tools, and tactics you want to use to achieve marketing success.
The Conversion Team
Every touch point between you and your customer should be evaluated by the conversion team. This means advertisements, landing pages, product detail pages, forms, transactional emails, frequently asked questions and so on.
This team needs to feel & breathe the way your customer does. Ideally, they have a weekly session in which they watch actual prospects go through the entire process of becoming a client in order to truly understand where there is potential friction between the customer and the companies touch points.
The conversion team is way broader than what “A/B Testing” is about. It’s about understanding humans and the way they interact with technology. In a way, it has a lot of resemblance with a “Product Manager” role at a software company.
The Retention Team
It depends on the market you’re in, but customer acquisition is likely to be expensive. The first thing to focus on is to make sure that you are keeping your newly acquired customers and turn them into loyal returning customers that don’t need to go through the entire acquisition flow again.
Obviously, this depends on the product or service you sell. But if possible at all, you should have a team that is solely focussing on making a first-time customer place a second order as soon as possible. This team thinks of unique packaging material for your physical products, a nice letter to go with the first purchase to put a smile on the clients face, etc. You get one shot to turn a first-time buyer into a recurring revenue stream, don’t waste it.
The Advocacy Team
Customer advocacy is a fancy way to label the age old “word-of-mouth” marketing. In the end, truly great brands have customer advocacy in the back of their minds at all times when thinking about marketing.
When your team is big enough or if your business model depends on it, the advocacy role is one you might want to put a dedicated person or team on. At first sight, you might think Advocacy and Retention have a lot of overlap. However, just because people have not made a second purchase (yet), does not mean they are not interested in being a brand advocate for you.
Customer advocacy can be one of your strongest acquisition tools if done right. Combining a truly great customer experience with a solid referral program might be worth more to your bottom line than yet another display marketing campaign.
Marketing tools come and go. Marketing channels come and go. The internet is filled with practical how-to information that touches on all the different tactics for all tools and channels.
The true essence of a successful marketing department is, and always will be, in understanding the customer and their journey. Build your Marketing Strategy on that fundament and let the tools and tactics follow, not lead.
If you align your internal marketing team around that, you have set the stage for data-driven marketing success to follow.