For marketers, "knowing the customer" has always been a core responsibility of our discipline. And recently, this has taken on even greater interest as instrumented interactions enables us to gain new insights into our customers and prospects.
What's more interesting, though, is that we are beginning to see examples of marketers who are harnessing digitized marketing, data and analytics. They are stepping into new levels of personalization. That suggests an entirely new paradigm when it comes to "knowing the customer as an individual."
Meanwhile, our customers' expectations continue to grow -- as they communicate with us (and with each other) through a myriad of social channels. Brands need to reflect some new added value as a result of the additional knowledge afforded by this new level of transparency.
The best brands are able to combine transactional data with social data in way to develop a full profile of a customer or customer segment -- from purchasing to personality. And then they orchestrate a series of interactions which don't even feel like marketing at all.
CMOs tend to agree that data-driven marketing can impact the bottom line. IBM's 2013 State of Marketing survey found that marketers who proactively own the customer experience and apply technology across touch points produced more than triple the income, and double the profits, of their counterparts in companies without that organizational focus.
Putting this into action starts with a hard look at the skills within the marketing team. More marketers are asking: What skills do I need to manage marketing analytics, social media and mobile apps? What skills should I turn to agencies for, versus building in-house? Does it make sense to construct a marketing systems group, and should it live in IT or in marketing? How do I build a social business that empowers employees to deliver on what customers want?
Marketers ultimately will need to face the technology question as well, including the best way to make the case for new investment. A shift to more business-oriented ROI measures (versus just media-oriented metrics) also creates pressure for new insights. New customer acquistions, program performance, lead and revenue contribution are forefront in demonstrating marketing value. Marketers need to build business cases for their IT investments and clearly link them to financial metrics. These aren't standalone systems but integrated with CRM and other long-standing technologies, especially sales and service.
We've all got an inner "quant" -- but we need to reach this state with a clear vision of the end-point, and then create a clear picture of the skills and technologies we need for the journey.