Disruptions mean marketers need new data insights – Retailing Africa


The last couple of years taught marketing leaders critical lessons about customer data, predictive and prescriptive analytics, and actionable insights, says a new CMO Council report. First and foremost, marketers live in a new reality where disruptions in markets, customer behaviour and world events occur practically overnight. Existing data and analytics systems that rely solely on historical trends are no longer good enough at helping marketers predict and prepare for such disruptions.

Marketers now know they need powerful customer-intuitive data/analytics/insights systems to get ahead of the next disruption. That’s a lot to unpack. Adding to the urgency, there’s a lot of revenue on the line for marketers which get it right. Practically every marketing leader says customer behaviour has been seriously affected by the pandemic. This has levelled the playing field in customer acquisition.

Nearly 80% of marketing leaders say data, analytics and insights are very important to winning and retaining customers, according to a recent pulse poll of a select group of CMO Council marketing executives conducted by the CMO Council and GfK. This pulse poll helped to set the stage for a broader study set to be released in July 2022. According to our pulse poll, only one out of three marketing leaders is very confident in their existing data sources and systems, despite companies spending millions every year trying to shore them up. That’s not a ringing endorsement.

How can marketers raise their confidence?

Marketers have got to get a better return on their data investments. To be fair, the data problem has hung over marketing’s head well before the pandemic put a spotlight on it. A CMO Council survey in early 2020 found that nearly 60% of marketers had inconsistencies with the depth and granularity of customer insights. A shocking 36% admitted they didn’t have the data to know their consumers, let alone anticipate needs. All of this means there’s a big opportunity for marketers to advance their data, analytics and insights capabilities. It’s going to take some chutzpah. Marketers will have to re-evaluate data sources, aggressively adopt AI/machine learning technology and skills, and identify and plan for data-driven marketing insights that matter most in the days ahead. The goal, of course, is to unleash the predictive power of data in an age of sudden disruption and to act on data insights in a customer’s moment of need.

New marketing priorities

Over the next 12 months, marketing leaders will be prioritising market insights, content response and engagement insights, and brand health and engagement metrics, our pulse poll found. These top marketing data insights are all elements of customer behaviour. Marketers constantly seek the latest insights into customer behaviour because of the mutable nature of today’s consumer. Disruptions have caused dramatic shifts in customer behaviour, ranging from the rapid migration to digital channels spurred by the pandemic to the demand for purpose-driven marketing underscored by hundreds of global brands pulling out of Russia.

At the top of our pulse poll list of prioritised marketing data insights is real-time market insights. Such insights will help marketing get a handle on where the market is moving. In turn, this will enable salespeople to better respond to emerging customer behaviour trends. Further, AI has the potential to bring forecasting/predictive elements to market insights. Content response and engagement insights are also critical to the modern marketer.

According to Forrester Research, more than 60% of B2B buyers can finalise selection criteria or vendor list solely on digital content. The right content at the right buying stage can build toward a shortlist, a call to a sales rep or even an e-commerce conversion.

Lastly, brand health insights can lead to better customer segmentation, brand tracking and brand uplift. Data insights that shed light on shifting customer behaviour are incredibly valuable yet difficult to acquire. Marketing needs mature data capabilities.

These are now the questions to ask:

  • Are marketers extracting the right real-time data signals?
  • Do marketers have the depth and granularity of customer insights?
  • Are these insights actionable at scale?


Main image credit: Pixabay.


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