September 15, 2017

Customer Data: Is it the new Marketing Battleground?

By Peter Lavers

Marketing BattlegroundData and analytics are being called the new marketing battleground. Indeed, many experienced marketers are rushing to brush up on their technical knowledge.

So, continuing our focus on applications of data & analytics, I’m delighted to welcome back Peter. Peter Lavers is Director of WCL and Customer Attuned.

He is also regularly recognised as one of the top CX experts and influencers today.

Time flies by and surprisingly, it’s almost 2 years since Peter last guest blogged for us. Since then, we’ve seen the benefit of hearing the perspective of CX leaders on our data plans. So, over to Peter to share the first of two blogs on the battleground he sees.

The new marketing battleground: why?

I believe Marketing and CRM are experiencing their most exciting period in history. Certainly since my first involvement with them (over 3 decades ago)!

Why? Because, only now is it becoming economically viable, to unlock the incredible value, that’s often hidden in inaccessible and disconnected company databases.

Improved data management is a tremendous benefit to many corporate disciplines. Supply chain, stock/inventory management, finance, risk/compliance & logistics to name a few. But, my specialism is Customer Management. So, it’s in this field that I’d like to address some opportunities. Ones that will deliver commercial benefits and improved competitiveness for your business.

In this blog, I’ll set out why data is the new Marketing battleground. Then, discuss how analytics is the weapons guidance systems needed to win the battle. I’d like to apologise here to any pacifists reading this blog. I know that marketing isn’t life & death, and do not wish to promote corporate aggression. But, there are some great analogies that I’d like to draw out!

The new marketing battleground: wake up to it

For decades, we marketers, had to rely on Market Research to tell us things that we should already know about our customers. For instance: their value, loyalty and buying patterns. I remember wondering why a company, that stored the date of birth of all its customers, needed to pay an external agency to ask them how old they were!

We did this, of course, because it was easier and cheaper to keep asking ‘dumb’ anonymous questions than to connect our own data. Data which was often jealously guarded in fiefdoms or business silos. This situation can still exist. I’ve seen too many data warehousing projects torpedoed, not because of the technical challenges, but by internal politics.

In my professional lifetime, CRM systems, loyalty programmes, e-commerce, mobile/digital, instant feedback, and social listening have joined our customer engagement arsenals. But, in many instances, bolting them on as new and separate silos. This adds complexity and inconsistency to the customer experience.

It’s time to recognise that all these are about data. Each is both a consumer and producer of customer-related data. Indeed, so are all the ‘traditional’ sales, marketing, and customer service channels. “87% of Marketers believe that data is their most underutilized asset” (Forbes Teradata, 2015).

The new marketing battleground: break down silos

I’ve enjoyed spectating, on opposing arguments about the impact of loyalty programmes. Which improves actual customer retention and value? Yet, both sides agree, these programmes generate useful data! There are lots of similar academic arguments, about the veracity of differing tools and approaches. The truth is that they all could work, if there is the business will to break down the silos and  supply accurate, usable data.


This is why I would assert that customer data is the new marketing battleground. I passionately believe, that companies will win more share of attention (and wallet) if they overcome their internal barriers.  Connecting their data and deploying it through all their marketing tools (their arsenal). Thus improving personalisation and immediacy.

It’s also why I’m going to be attending the SAS Analytics Experience conference in Amsterdam in October. These should help practitioners take big steps towards achieving these goals.

Data isn’t a weapon in itself – it needs to be generating insight that directs deployment. My next blog will consider the Customer Management ‘battlefronts’ (the drivers of value). Plus, the way in which analytics are the ‘weapons guidance systems’, to realise hard commercial benefits.

The new marketing battleground: does that work for you?

Thanks to Peter for those thoughts. I can see the battleground analogy and it leaves me wondering whether AI is the new use of battle drones?

More seriously, I’d concur that often the impact of insight in organisations limited by silos. More often than technology or technical skills being the answer, it’s about people & culture. Perhaps working with people and softer skills is the new peacemaking, in this new world?

What do you think & what ideas does this analogy prompt for your work?