Are You in the (Loyalty) Loop? How Customer Data Builds Relationships
Customer data is a powerful tool. It can help marketers refine messaging and campaigns that will more effectively persuade audiences to buy. But we can also use that data to build stronger, more trusting relationships with customers, creating more customer loyalty and even transforming consumers into brand ambassadors and advocates.
Yet as useful as data can be to marketers, we need to tread carefully and responsibly. Concerns about privacy and security are at the forefront of customers’ minds, and they’re looking for brands they can trust.
For a fascinating perspective on the nuances of leveraging customer data in support of relationship marketing, we talked to marketing expert Andrew Davis. With a background that includes co-founding a digital marketing agency and working for major media outlets, Andrew is now an in-demand keynote speaker and the author of the best-selling books Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships and Town Inc.
Here’s what Andrew says about using customer data to build relationships the right way.
Use Existing Customer Data to Bring in New Customers
One of the most powerful pieces of data you can use is the thing that motivated consumers to buy—something Andrew calls a “moment of inspiration.”
“I define a moment of inspiration as an instant in time that sends them on a journey,” Andrew says. He uses the example of a couple that discovers they are pregnant and need to buy a bigger vehicle. “Their path to purchase might look like any other, but the reason they were inspired to go on the journey to purchase a car is because they are having their third child and they need an SUV or minivan.”
But how do you identify a moment of inspiration? “You can use your existing customers to find those answers in sales conversations or in surveys, and then find customers that look like those customers,” Andrew says. Such customer data can provide new angles and avenues for targeting audiences and provide a foundation for a relationship. “If you can use data to understand that moment of inspiration, you’re unstoppable,” he adds.
3 Types of Personal Moments that Build Customer Loyalty
Leveraging data around personal moments of inspiration is key to supporting increasing customer loyalty. Andrew identifies three types of motivating moments: personal, history, and brand-inspired.
Personal moments are related to life stages or situations. Ultimately, says Andrew, “they’re about the person.” For example, “If they just graduated college, what exactly are they going to be looking for, and how is that going to affect what they buy and who they buy it from?” But, he emphasizes, these moments don’t have to be related to major events—they could be as simple as wanting a mint after drinking coffee or needing new shoes after deciding to take up running.
History moments relate to external forces—people we talk to or the media we consume, whether it’s traditional or social media. Such a moment could be a picture on Instagram that inspires a customer to redecorate a room. For another example, suggests Andrew, a customer watches a new show on Netflix and admires the clothing worn by one of the characters. “All of a sudden they’re buying a different kind of fashion than before,” he says. But, he cautions, it’s important to drill down into exactly which media caused the moment: “It’s the Netflix series that inspired them, not the browsing history.”
Brand-inspired moments are brought about by businesses through emails, newsletters, discount offers and codes, and more. “Think about the impact these little moments can have on the people you’re reaching—think of them as an opportunity to build a better experience,” Andrew has written on his blog. Understanding these communications as potential moments of inspiration can help companies track and use the data on how customers engage with them to build more loyalty.
Turn Customers Into Brand Advocates
It’s one thing to use data to create repeat customers, but Andrew suggests you can use customer data to create hardcore fans. His number one technique: identify where you can remove any friction from the customer experience—such as eliminating steps to purchase or streamlining forms. “Just one reduction of a field on a form can make people feel like things are easier than the competition,” he says.
In the same vein, businesses should take a proactive approach to customers’ frequently asked questions and concerns. For example, customers often have questions immediately after they have made a purchase. Marketers can use that opportunity to send answers before they even have to ask. “Use data about your historic customer relationships to inform and preempt the things that your consumer is going to ask,” he says. The forethought will lessen the effort and stress on your customer and create a positive experience that will impact their overall impression of your brand.
Finally, Andrew says, raise anticipation. “A lot of people are focused on just creating a rapid experience,” he says. “In fact, some of the best brands actually slow down the consumer experience and get people more excited about the product’s arrival in their lives. And that creates raving fans.”
Such an approach can transform even a mundane task into an experience. As an example of a brand that does this effectively, Andrew points to Domino’s Pizza and its order tracker, Customers monitor their pizza being made at every step, from prep to baking, and can then follow it along its delivery route via a GPS-enabled interactive map. “You can order pizza online from literally thousands of online vendors. Probably a lot of them provide a better pizza than Domino’s,” says. “But Domino’s by 2012 had done a billion dollars in online orders because they transformed the task of ordering a pizza into an experience.”
Deploying Data Without Scaring Customers Off
Increasingly savvy consumers may view obvious attempts to use their data with wariness, cynicism, or even alarm. How can brands use increasingly personal customer data without seeming overly intrusive?
Andrew says transparency and honesty not only help address concerns but also foster a sense of authenticity. “If you believe that the consumer might read an email or see something that all of a sudden makes them feel weird, you must address it upfront,” he says. “Their crucial concern might be, ‘how did they get this data?’ Well, tell them how you got that data, ask them permission to use that data.”
Andrew also suggests businesses “scale camaraderie” by integrating employees into interactions and messaging. “Instead of building a brand-driven relationship with the consumer, build a relationship between the people at your brand and the people you serve,” he says. If an action triggers an email to a customer, write the email in the first person and sign it with an actual employee’s name and information instead of sending an impersonal message from a faceless corporation. “Use the people behind your brand to power those data-driven relationships so that they do not come across as creepy,” he advises.
Think About Customer Data Beyond Sales
As you collect and analyze more customer data, it’s worth thinking about how you can shift your approach from just creating sales to building long-lasting customer relationships. Viewing your customer data with a relationship-building lens can help uncover opportunities to act on the moments that inspire customers and adjust the experience to speak to them. The resulting positive associations with your brand—especially in comparison with your competitors—can transform customers into lifelong fans. Ultimately, says Andrew, “We’re trying to create a great experience that with every encounter makes people feel something about your brand.”
Having the right technology in place is key to supporting these efforts. Treasure Data CDP can help you gather, organize, and act on your customer data to create relationship-building customer experiences. Ask for a demo today.
For more from Andrew Davis, join his upcoming webinar, sponsored by Treasure Data. The Loyalty Loop: How small insights add up to big business.
About Andrew Davis
Andrew Davis is a bestselling author & keynote speaker. He’s built and sold a digital marketing agency, produced for NBC and worked for The Muppets. Today, Andrew Davis teaches business leaders how to grow their businesses, transform their cities, and leave their legacy. You can keep up with Andrew on Twitter and LinkedIn.