In the past, the aim of direct marketing was to sell directly to the public using sales pitches which were based completely on the possible behaviour of groups of customers who had things in common. These usually consisted of location, typical purchases, family structure, household geodemographics and in-store and mail order transactions; then only once grouped together would campaigns be targeted across a couple of channels such as direct mail and telephone for example.

In today’s digitally led world, group marketing has morphed into marketing targeted at the individual, where offers are tailored for each customer. However, trying to win customer’s attention with targeted messages is no longer enough to succeed given the plethora of channels available for brands to use to reach out (mobile, email, interactive TV, cash-back schemes, telephone, SMS, IM, social media advertising, the list goes on). The solution? Personalisation.

To deliver truly personalised campaigns to customers and prospects a large amount of data depicting customer behavioural trends needs to be sorted and analysed – however, this is not the silver bullet solution for brands to achieve perfect personalisation, it is about merging information from a variety of silos to get a true single customer view (SCV) of their customers. Yet, this certainly comes with challenges. Let’s look at email – many people have multiple email addresses, some share email addresses with a partner and many have an email address which they use solely for filling in online forms (to direct junk mail to) and are rarely checked. However, there are far too few businesses who have the capabilities in place to monitor how many people are actively using the email addresses which the communications are going out to; resulting in a waste of time and effort.

It is important that businesses strive to gather as much information as possible on their customers to entice them to purchase more (including higher value products or services) ultimately increasing their lifetime value to the company. Therefore, just tracking one siloed communication with a customer is not enough! Combining a physical name and address with browsing history, abandoned basket rates, ecommerce and in-store transactions as well as email and mobile data are key to identifying the most effective marketing mix for a client.

A SCV doesn’t just help a company to understand how to communicate more effectively with customers by using the right channels and relevant offers but it enables businesses to get a better understanding of the value of each individual customer and whether investing in further marketing activities is worthwhile. But just because SCV is adopted widely does not mean it is effectively used. Research shows that 40% of businesses are storing over 80% of their customer’s data over multiple systems throughout their businesses (Experian, 2015 Digital Marketing Survey). This demonstrates that poor data quality, siloed systems and technology which isn’t integrated into the business all lead to a fragmented understanding of the customer. According to eConsultancy only a fifth of marketers have developed a SCV that is actionable – the reason for this being a lack of in-house digital maturity to cope with combining data accumulated from online with offline (Econsultancy, 20% of marketers have created an actionable ‘single customer view’, April 12th 2016).

Marketers must deal with the challenge at hand and pinpoint the data which can be turned into actionable intelligence to grow customer loyalty and ultimately revenues. There are tools and techniques available to decipher different entities online which are in fact different activities online being carried out by the same person. This provides insight to see where a customer has browsed the website which was the result of direct mail, started to purchase but then abandoned their basket, but then went on to make a purchase on their smartphone later that evening. This leaves room for the business to acknowledge when the basket has been abandoned and can offer a small discount to entice the customer back to purchase.

The key for marketers is to get a 3-dimensional view of their customers, or a 720o view, achieved through garnering an understanding of the customer across a variety of channels, and combining various data sets to understand their ‘typical’ behaviour. By doing this, it is clear to see which marketing actions are generating value and which are a waste of time and resource.

This break down means that businesses can shape themselves to be more relevant to the customers they are approaching and facilitates them to market to them more efficiently. Not only this but it means marketers will be well positioned to get Finance on board as they will have clear insight into how various channels are operating and can consequentially increase financial backing where it is needed.

Andy Wood

Andy Wood


Andy Wood, Chairman Go Inspire Insight