Intelligent customer-focused marketing
Customer-focus has always been a key element of good service delivery, as well as effective communications and successful sales closure processes. This is particularly so where audience engagement with a brand and repeat, or add-on, sales are objectives. As the traditional marketing funnel is rethought in the light of changing media technologies and customer behaviour, there is also a case for saying it has become a critical factor in determining where marketing resources are best put. Target audiences are no longer isolated individuals in a crowd representing pieces of a market share. They are now connected by social and professional networks, which filter out the disinterested. They have become groups and long-tail markets with something in common.
Communication in the digital age
Experience of what succeeds in digital marketing and an understanding of the importance of usability considerations for the online 'information consumer' (and potential customer), gained since the emergence of digitally enabled marketing and communications channels and the rise of e-commerce, have not only reinforced this, they have identified a shift in customer expectations and tolerances away from broadcast generic messages; and revealed a greater need to recognise the segmentation of target audiences into increasingly refined subsets, ultimately approaching a direct and exclusive communication with the individual.
In a world of media convergence and multiple alternative devices, this complexity is magnified by the different forms of presentation that may be employed to deliver messages and the communication channels available to absorb them through. This introduces the further consideration of how information is best consumed by the intended recipient.
Not only is this 'relationship marketing' taken to its logical conclusion, which is that relationships are most likely to be effective at a personal level, it also demands recognition of the fact that taking a 'marketing orientation' approach—identifying, anticipating and responding to the 'needs and wants of customers', now also extends to how they 'need and want' to be communicated with.
The significant factors that underpin traditional marketing thought now have to be refocused on the integrity and relevance of the message:
- Product has become Solution
- Price has become Value
- Place has become Access
- Promotion has become Information
The ability to accurately measure the outcome of marketing and communication activities and evaluate their progress whilst current has also become an important factor since the advent of digital enabled alternatives. These are able to demonstrate return on investment (ROI) more exactly than traditional approaches and offer routes to the point of customer action that may be mapped accurately and are comparatively direct and flexible.
Because digital systems are capable of profiling a user by their interactions with them—in other words they can record what choices the individual is making by the actions they take; and may project the implications of this, with the aid of a little fuzzy logic, they are ideally positioned both to remember what the customer has said and to reflect them as a person.
This is what thoughtfully applied Variable Data Publication is capable of.
Digital technologies collect masses of data and each piece of data is evidence of something. As information collects from a Variable Data Publication (VDP) activity a detailed picture emerges. Analysis of this provides extremely accurate market research, which informs campaign strategy and allows the segmentation of audiences for follow up marketing activity at a level of refinement that offers highly effective customer profiling.
So, this technique enables the accumulation of valuable statistical insights as well as permitting extremely fine segmentation and highly personalised variables in any follow-up digital marketing responses, or on-going market analysis. The creation of the document, or response to one, becomes the entrance to a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) process with the user volunteering their profile. Advanced implementations of VDP technology have CRM system tools built into them, or may be configured to pass the information across to one that is already in place (a CRM system).