Yet marketers are tasked with addressing both, and so many are wondering about how these two distinct disciplines can be brought together.

To find out, we recently invited dozens of client-side marketers to roundtable discussions about how they optimize their customer experiences using data and analytics. Throughout the day, marketers offered their insights and our subject matter expert, Liz Sullivan, VP, Strategy & Insight, APAC, Epsilon provided guidance and real-world examples.  The main points are summarized below.

So how can brands optimize their customer experience using data and analytics?

1) Gather data. Lots of it.

In the discussions, marketers spoke about their experiences of using data and analytics to improve their customer experience, yet not a single participant complained about having ‘too much data’.

The reason for this is that when trying to tackle a problem as complex as improving customer experience, marketers need as much data as they can get in order to discover what’s happening during the customer journey. Data is also useful when trying to fix problems and measure whether or not the changes made a difference.

CX principles play a role in this process as well, but as one attendee put it “data tells you how good your CX really is”.

Additionally, participants noted that in order to get data, management needs to be on board. Without top-level support, departments tend to silo data and frustrate CX improvement programmes.

2) Work really hard on your unhappy marketplace marriages

Nearly every brand has a third party between them and at least some of their customers. For B2B it may be distributors and for B2C it is marketplaces.

Liz Sullivan, our subject matter expert, pointed out that this relationship typically resembles an ‘unhappy marriage’. Brands and marketplaces usually have different goals and often argue, but they are indeed stuck with each other. Marketplaces need the consumer appeal of big brands and brands need the digital distribution.

Their differences are most apparent when discussing what brands need most for optimizing the customer experience, customer data. Marketplaces understandably want to keep their data to themselves, yet brands need marketplace customer data in order to make product and merchandising decisions.

Attendees on the day concluded that the best way to move forward was for brands and marketplaces to work harder on their relationships. Marketplaces should release some of their customer data to brands and brands should be more selective about what they ask from their marketplace partners.

3) If you can’t get data, make the data

Many marketers on the day described situations where the data they needed to optimize customer experience simply didn’t exist. Whether its in-store metrics or tracking codes which fail to work cross-device, some crucial data regarding the customer journey always seems to be unavailable.

The suggested solution here is that when marketers cannot get the data they need, they should be creative and find alternative data which will satisfy their requirements.

Participants shared how they obtain customer data through focus groups, surveys, user experience (UX) workshops, and even by using mystery shoppers.  While not as accurate as clickstream data, offline data can usually help a great deal with customer experience improvement initiatives.

Some brands will go so far as to set up consumer discussion groups in order to find out what customers care about beyond the buying journey.  Many FMCG companies have set up community pages for this very purpose.

4) Ditch ROI as a marketing goal

Finally, marketers said that one of the biggest impasses to optimizing customer experience using data and analytics is having to deliver marketing ROI.

According to attendees, when marketers are busy proving ROI then the focus shifts from delivering value to the customer to trying to get value out of the customer. Increasing the click-through-rate (CTR) and reducing the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) become the only metrics that matter.

Instead, participants suggested that marketers should work toward improving customer metrics, such as Net Promoter Score, if they are serious about improving customer experience.

Doing so has the additional benefit of getting the whole organisation on the customer experience train, after which it is difficult to get off. Once management sees customer metrics ticking upwards, it’s unlikely they will ever stop looking at them.

A word of thanks

Econsultancy would like to thank our subject matter expert, Liz Sullivan, VP, Strategy & Insight, APAC, Epsilon for providing guidance and real-world expertise throughout the day.

We’d also like to thank the table’s sponsor, Epsilon, and all of the marketers who attended Digital Cream Singapore 2017 and shared their valuable insights.

We hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events!

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