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Supercharging customer marketing - from £10 takeaways to £10,000 tiaras

(Image credit: Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock)

I've never drawn the parallel before between my Friday night Lamb Jalfrezi and exquisite handmade jewellery. However, it turns out there's more to selling these products than meets the eye. At the first of our Retail Leaders workshops this week, JustEat and Liberty found they had common ground when it comes to understanding their clientele: how can retailers use their customer data to predict when they will be buying next? Moreover, when that customer doesn't turn up on cue, what is the right message to send them that will be relevant, timely and compelling? How can retailers retain customers and sell more to them by being more targeted, relevant and data-driven? These questions and others were on the agenda for 25 CRM and Marketing executives at our Big Data for Humans event this week, with attendees from businesses as diverse as Ann Summers and Sky.

We've spent months developing our "Customer Marketing Playbook", a catalogue of initiatives which our clients are undertaking to increase customer value. Trialled at this week’s workshop, it was heartening to see each guest using this resource with such gusto! Before any sort of planning it's critical to be clear about objectives, so each company filled out a short survey which allowed us to understand their priorities such as the relative importance of sales growth or profit maximisation; of acquiring new customers or guarding the ones they have; of launching new products, or increasing the return from existing campaigns. We set the Big Data for Humans team of Customer Marketing experts the live challenge of turning these objectives into a prioritised set of initiatives for each participant. Keyboards began to smoke as survey results were frantically processed, evaluated, and used to show our guests their top three 'tracks' of Customer Marketing. 

These thematic collections of customer marketing initiatives broadly describe the different activities that marketers might undertake at different stages of their customers’ lifecycle. It was fascinating to see the relative weightings that came out from such a diverse spread of retail leaders, with the clear winner being 'Retention'. The feedback from our audience was that even measuring churn, in a non-subscription business, was a challenge in many cases. Beyond measurement, choosing which customers to actively retain and implementing automated programs to retain lapsing customers was a massive priority. In particular, using personalised communications and promotions to encourage second transactions was the top performing initiative chosen, reflecting our retailers' belief that retention can start from the moment you interact with a customer. Whilst there was a lot of agreement around some of the initiatives, it was also fascinating to see the variety in the potential projects that jumped out as being the key activity for each company. Eleven of the initiatives were chosen by at least one participant as a top priority!

Uniting takeaways and tiaras

An account of our event wouldn't be complete without sharing some insights from our special guest, Paul Currie, Chief Executive Officer of the venerable bookseller Foyles. I say 'bookseller', but a key point from Paul was that Foyles has to be much more than a bookseller to compete with Amazon and the supermarkets. Foyles is more of a lifestyle retailer: a temple to books, full of book people, giving book lovers an experience that Amazon can't hope to meet. Moreover, by identifying key buyer profiles, Foyles is beginning to differentiate the experiences they offer, based on the tastes and preferences of the customer, all powered by the treasure trove of data captured by the "Foyalty" card. For instance, email success has been boosted by eight times through personalisation. It was insightful to hear about the transformation that Foyles is undergoing, and indeed that some of members of their team are experiencing at the same time.

So, what does unite takeaways and tiaras? Whether it's trying to work out why a customer hasn't bought a Biryani, or transacted a tiara, the marketers in the room were wrestling with the same questions: "Who is this customer? What are their tastes and preferences today? What might they buy next? Where are they in their lifecycle? What should I be trying to achieve with this customer?” Whilst 10 o'clock on a Friday night might be the right time to retain our Biryani Brenda with a push reminder that the restaurant closes soon, for Tiara Tony, understanding the other luxury categories bought by jewellery fanatics might form the basis of a great offer to him next Christmas. Starting with these questions, and working them back into target lists of customers, with recommended objectives and actions per customer, is why Big Data for Humans exists. We're looking forward to helping our clients, many of whom were in the room, better serve their customers - and be rewarded for that by customers spending more money!

Ian Webster, CCO of Big Data For Humans
Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock

Ian Webster
Ian Webster is the CCO of Big Data For Humans .