Data has always played a role in how marketers reach their customers. So what is the challenge marketers face now that they have even more data to guide their efforts?

If you just said technology, you’re partially right—and also starting at the wrong end of the solution.

customer-centric approachDuring the latest Monetate webinar, “Big Data Demystified for the Marketer” webinar, Rob Brosnan, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research and Kurt Heinemann, Monetate’s CMO, urged marketers to build their efforts around the customer. As Brosnan put it: “More than an infrastructure, Big Data resets the customer paradigm.”

Customers, he explained, are not “a fixed problem to optimize against.” Given the control people have to shop whenever, wherever, however they choose, marketers are in the position of continually playing keep-up in order to present the most relevant information during each interaction.

That means the traditional marketing funnel no longer works as a model for driving the customer lifecycle—it just isn’t responsive enough to the constantly changing dynamic of customers, competitors, and the overall marketplace. By putting customer data, both historical and real time, at the center of the marketing program, Brosnan says, brands can leave behind the product-centric focus that is becoming less effective and adopt a customer-first approach that helps ensure their campaigns resonate.

To help marketers flip their thinking around, Brosnan offered four customer-centric use cases that Big Data enables:

1. Blend multiple product lines in a given interaction.

Instead of trying to force this week’s featured product or deal onto a customer, likely giving up margin via a discounted price, marketers can leverage a more comprehensive set of data to better determine in real time the product, service, offer, or mix that is most relevant.

2. Deploy cross-channel offers.

The goal here isn’t to market in more channels for the sake of doing so. It’s important that brands be able to execute well in the channels they use.

That said, marketers are best served by a customer contact strategy that is channel neutral. They should be thinking about who their customers are and how different segments choose to engage with the brand. This keeps the focus on how to best match up customers with offers, working in whichever channel best supports the interaction.

3. Move beyond transactional offers.

More than eight in 10 consumers last year researched a product before they purchased it, according to Forrester Research. And that included both low- and high-consideration items.

Furthermore, one-third of these purchasers indicated a desire to be updated as the brand launched new products. Clearly, consumers are interested in more content than just offers. Blending multiple streams of data (offline purchase history, clickstream, mobile/social activity, etc.) helps marketers understand where customers are in their lifecycle in order to deliver the most relevant mix of information that strengthens the relationship and drives revenue.

4. Embed a test-and-learn method across the marketing program.

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to figure out if the add-to-cart button is better in red or blue. That’s really just the tipping point in using data to understand how marketing programs affect customer lifetime value or profitability.

Again, combining and analyzing data from a variety of sources provides marketers with a bigger picture of who customers are and what they want, which enables more robust testing for continuous customer insight.

To learn more about Big Data and creating a customer-centric marketing approach, watch the full webinar.

Red Pencil image courtesy of Shutterstock.