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Data: As With Most Things, It's Not What You've Got, It Is How You Use It

For most companies the greatest asset is their customers, but there remains to be hundreds of businesses in the UK where that is not the case. Loyalty and customer retention has become secondary, and is being used as a tool to prevent cancellation. Organisations need to understand who their customer is, what they like and dislike, placing the customer back into the centre of the organisation structure and planning.

Usable customer insight from every touch-point will allow a business to reduce churn, increase satisfaction and grow revenues. Customer retention budget should be used in tandem with acquisition budgets to ensure that the customers being generated are the ones that you want to retain and supply your business with great long-term value.

But how can businesses do this effectively?

With the proliferation of devices, consumers are sharing information across multiple digital touch points, enabling the business to get closer to the consumer, supplying endless amount of raw data. By supplying this amount of information, the consumer wants to be defined and expects brands to understand what it is they want. Consumers' information (data) and interests don't change depending on what device they're on, on the contrary those interests are the glue that could provide a single view of the consumer. Therefore, serving blanket ads to a nation that is increasingly time poor and data savvy, no matter which device they're using, will simply switch the consumer off. Meaning that the effect on the ROI will be minimum, based on an expensive ad campaign or marketing activity.

There is a huge opportunity to harness data and provide targeted campaigns that will resonate with the consumer. Tesco is a good example of a brand leading the way in using multiple offline and online touch points to identify who the customer is and understand what exactly it is they want. By using schemes like the Tesco Clubcard, valuable data can be gathered to ensure a brand has the insight to influence the customer to purchase again and again.

But gathering data is just the tip of the iceberg. A truly successful targeted campaign goes beyond just data, it's about reach, frequency and monetary value (RFM). It's all very well understanding your customer/prospects but if you can't reach them there's little point building insight. For this reason, advertisers have traditionally leaned towards print and broadcast outlets with the greatest number of viewers or readers, in order to reach as many eye balls as possible. Yes, of course this gives brands the opportunity to reach a mass audience, however in today's market place it's no longer about one message fits all, it's about being able to create large marketable segments of consumers and delivering, the right message to the right audience in a timely fashion, not forgetting reach.

The beauty of the digital revolution is that there is a host of publications that cater for niche audiences. Whether it is car fanatics or new parents looking for advice, there is plenty of content available and communities to join. As such, these niche publishers have acquired highly engaged followings and so provide the perfect platform to advertise on. What's more, these niche publishers can be aggregated, enabling brands to advertise to the right audience, with the right message at scale.

The media solutions of the future will be led by audience insight, driven by technology. And so, over the next couple of years, we will start to see far more collaboration with publishers to ensure that data is harvested and shared. Smart marketers will take the time to understand more about their customers and what they want and use that insight to target new prospects via the right channels. Those that don't, will continue to see churn and loose to smarter competition.