Customer Centric Communications Demands Relevancy


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Why is relevancy becoming more critical to marketers? For one, customers demand it and marketing must meet that demand or risk losing customers. The second reason relevancy is so important to marketers is that it works. Customers are simply worn out by the tidal wave of meaningless non-targeted communications. Customers respond to relevancy, which is proven by lifts in campaign response, as well as improvements in strategic customer metrics.

So what does it take to achieve relevancy?

The explosion and mass adoption of social media coupled with the recent financial crisis, has caused customers to become more skeptical, conscientious and empowered all at the same time. Moreover, customers today are overextended with the demands of family and work and they appreciate communications that are fast, easy, personal and relevant. Achieving customer relevancy requires that customer communications arrive at the right time through the right channel with the right offer according to the customers’ preferences.

Research shows that if relevancy is ignored, marketers risk customer defection and reduced customer loyalty. Take a recent 2009 CMO study; it revealed that 63 percent of consumers have abandoned, or are considering abandoning, a brand altogether because of irrelevant emails and junk mail. Furthermore, according to the Relevancy Report, seventy-five percent of people continue to receive promotions for products already purchased. And, according to a Harris Interactive poll of over 2000 adult consumers, 80 percent of customers will never go back to an organization after a negative experience.

Achieving customer relevancy requires that customer communications arrive at the right time through the right channel with the right offer according to the customers’ preferences.

Marketers that use relevancy demonstrate to their customers that their organization understands who they are, can anticipate their needs and can provide offers unique to them and their particular situation. Relevant communication is a great way to launch an ongoing dialog with your customers because it demonstrates your commitment to creating a relationship that inspires customer confidence and loyalty. The overwhelming majority of customers in a recent CMO Council study state that, regardless of channel, relevancy is what they valued, if not required, in maintaining a brand relationship.

Unfortunately, many technologies, tools and processes are outdated and don’t fully support delivery of multi-channel relevant communications. According to Suresh Vittal, Forrester Research, “Many marketers are abandoning their traditional product focus and trying to adopt a more customer centric one. But doing so requires the use of numerous technologies that facilitate deep customer understanding and better targeting of offers.” (Eight Marketing Technologies that Enable Customer Centricity).

Business intelligence applied in the marketing environment can be a powerful way to achieve the level of customer understanding needed before relevant programs can be designed and executed. Add a customer interaction platform that support business rules, triggers and personalization, and marketing now has the technology tools needed to deliver relevant communications cost effectively.

Business Intelligence Unlocks Relevancy

To achieve higher levels of relevancy, marketers must work to transform their basic customer database into a 360 degree view of the customer. Contact information, demographics and lifestyle scores aren’t enough to drive relevancy in today’s environment. Marketers need greater customer understanding and they need it fast. Waiting for the technology team to provide reporting can create a missed opportunity with the fast moving customer. And flat reporting processes aren’t providing the insight marketers need to create the type of relevant communications customers respond to.

Business intelligence tools or application software designed for marketing is the ideal solution to collecting customer data from disparate systems and support marketing with easy to use tools to analyze customer activity. With business intelligence in place, marketers can perform data mining and querying to extract important insights about customers that drive the development of relevant communications.

The Customer Data Mart Serves as a Customer Memory Bank

Most business intelligence solutions rely on data stored in a data mart. If relevancy is “a basic demonstration of customer memory”, then the data mart is the repository for memories stored in the “memory bank”.

A standard marketing database takes on a multi-dimensional customer view when combined with behavioral data, such as response and visits and transactional data, such as purchases and interactions with your call center.

The data mart is populated with customer data housed in the varied applications throughout your company. The beauty of a data mart is that it supports different formats and different data structures, which means it’s easy to extract data meaningful to marketers—and then load that data into a data mart for marketing’s use.

Self-enabled Analysis Provides Freedom for Customer Insight
Many marketers still rely on spreadsheets or multiple custom reports to analyze and track customer activity and information. In the Aberdeen Group study, Providing a 360 Degree View of the Customer, senior marketers reported subordinates spending up to 16% of their time searching for customer data.

Business intelligence provides marketers with real time data from all sources so that customer understanding can be achieved through self-enabled data mining, queries and data visualizations. The ability to slice and dice data means more insight becomes available.

Take Action on Customer Insight

Insight is only the first step to relevancy. The next step is to use that insight to create meaningful offers to customers and deliver that offer when the customer is ready to hear it. By applying business rules for contact optimization and by using event triggers, marketers can increase relevancy in their customer communications, improve response rates and achieve greater ROI while improving the customer experience.

For example, a national specialty cleaning service combined the traditional customer database with the order/transaction data and call center data. Through analysis this company was able to better understand their customers. Specific service request patterns emerged with some customers ordering cleaning every three months, some every six months and some once per year. The company also discovered that a high percentage of customers used the service only once and never requested additional service.

To address the issue, the company tested a simple reminder program. Using triggers and business rules to vary offers, based on the timeframe pattern identified within the data, the company launched a multi-channel, multi-offer customer reminder program. After running the program on a weekly basis for six months, this company achieved 40% lift in revenue from repeating customers over the control group which received no reminder.


Relevancy works! Achieving high levels of relevancy needs to be top of mind for today’s marketers.

Mastering relevancy improves customer loyalty and customer satisfaction and generates more revenue per customer. Today’s new relevancy requirements demand that many marketers re-tool. Business intelligence, contact optimization and triggered software are powerful marketing tools that enable marketers to craft and execute relevant communications cost effectively. Achieving relevancy today demands technology tools that support a 360 degree view of the customer and allow marketers to easily manage dialogues with their customers and improve the customer experience. Marketers must consider adding these tools to their arsenal or risk reduced customer loyalty and customer defection.

Connie Hill
Ms. Hill has built her career and the company by identifying the evolving needs of marketers. Under Ms. Hill's leadership, VeraCentra has grown from a start up to a multi-million dollar industry leader in providing innovative marketing automation solutions for today's ROI-conscious marketers. Ms. Hill is a member of the DMA, NAPL, and is an Executive Board Member of MFSA.


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