Retail 2 big


Understanding customer insight

More than just interesting facts


Is it useful to know that your customers love chocolate if you’re a shoe seller? Do you need to know your customers’ favourite holiday destinations if you’re a software provider? How do your customers’ social media preferences relate to your café?

While insight is a major marketing buzzword these days, it’s not all the same. True insight isn’t just any old information you can glean about your audience – it’s data that helps you add value to your business. Done well, data analytics can deliver valuable customer insights that relate to your brand and your broader business goals. These insights can be used to make better connections with customers, drive marketing and product development decisions and influence the way everyone in the business works – from C-suite down to sales staff.

So, how do you gain this sort of value-building insight? Getting it right involves teams across your organisation – from IT and marketing to operations and customer service – along with tech and help from outside organisations.


Analytics vs insights

Not all data analysis delivers insight, although all insight comes from some type of analytics. Confused? While analysis and insight are often treated as the same, they’re two parts of the customer puzzle.

Analytics is about looking at customer data and drawing out key information. For example, you might run an A/B test of an email offer and get a 6% open rate for A, and an 8% rate for B. This is analytics at its most basic – it breaks down information about a specific piece of content and the actions of your customers. However, it’s not delivering deeper insight into why or who is responding – the information is only helpful for one small-scale decision and it won’t inform long-term business decisions.

Insight comes from drawing in more data and widening the scope of the analysis. Instead of looking at pure open rates, you could pull in the data about the customers who opened either email to create a profile of likely ‘responders’. You might find that customers in a certain age range, income bracket or purchase history are more likely to open your emails. This is insight because the information can be used for tighter targeting and audience segmentation during future campaigns – not just this one.


Where does your insight come from?

While data is needed to gain insight, that’s not the end of the story. It’s also about your people. Many businesses are now hiring Customer Insight Managers (also called Customer Experience Managers) who are in charge of bringing internal teams and external partners together. Insight Managers need to have a big picture view of your business goals and customer information along with a strong knowledge of data analytics and data management. They’ll lead an insights team with skills in database design, analytics and modelling, systems support, market research and more. There’s no single way to manage insights – it’s about building the team and the skill set to fit your specific business needs.

Of course, your team also needs access to the right data and the right tech – your legacy database or databases, CRM, analytics tools and visualisation software – it’s far easier to gain understanding if you can quickly manipulate, map and visualise your data.


Accurate insight from a single customer view

Depending on the size and scope of your business, your insights team might be gathering information from a wide range of sources and using a wide range of analytics tools to pull out insights. No matter how large the toolkit, the goal should be the same: creating a single view for each customer.

A single customer view is an accurate, up-to-date profile that includes all the information your organisation holds about that customer. Personal information and contact details from your email list, past purchase behaviour from your CRM, response data from past campaigns and even responses to customer surveys. Whatever you have, creating a single view helps you build a fuller picture of the customer to personalise interactions and outreach in future. In terms of insight, a single view ensures that you’re working with accurate, up-to-date information and getting a real picture of customer behaviour – not a skewed view that duplicates data from the same customers.

Unfortunately, if your organisation has legacy data stored in databases and platforms across the business, getting that laser-focused view can be complicated. Different platforms may not interact or share information smoothly, and double-ups or missing pieces mean there’s no one accessible source of truth for each of your customers. A data mart or depository is the solution here, drawing in data from disparate systems to create centralised customer profiles that are automatically updated when new information is added.

Packing your insight toolkit

Customer insights are crucial to long-term decision-making – in your digital marketing and beyond. As we’ve seen, they’re not quite as easy to come by as you might think. Gathering insight involves a skilled team, the right tools and information and a working knowledge of analytics and your specific business needs. If you’re currently using legacy systems, with disparate databases and siloed information storage, you may even need to invest in a data mart or depository.

While your internal team may have the skills and knowledge it needs, partnering with an outside agency can also be valuable. Take the Datamine team: we know our stuff when it comes to data, analytics and insights, and we can help your team sort through the complexity and invest in the right software, making that single customer view and those valuable insights much easier to find.

Ready to go? Talk to the team today.


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