Mind the Gap
For marketers to continue communicating effectively with their customers and to get a step ahead of the competition, they need to better understand their customers and have a marketing strategy that integrates all aspects of a consumers purchasing behaviour.
With technology an ever evolving arena and consumers adapting to this - one in seven website searches are now carried out on mobile phones, more than double the number last year - it is important for businesses to adapt to this rapid change by bringing offline customer insight to bear within online domains.
This is also a world where consumers are becoming more independent and self-aware. They increasingly understand the importance of safeguarding personal information, are more conscious of spending, where to obtain the best price, and most importantly of all they are using this information to help them decide how and who they want to spend their money with. But how much do marketers and businesses in general really know about their customers and what are they doing to better reach and retain them more effectively? With online and mobile now truly ingrained in the purchasing experience, it is vital to keep up with the realities of today's consumer and know your customer.
Callcredit has carried out its own research with a number of businesses across a range of sectors to gain an insight into how businesses are tracking their customer journey, and how they are using this information to create an integrated marketing strategy.
The results showed that even though many businesses do recognise the growing need for an integrated marketing strategy most are not taking the full customer journey into account and missing out on Big Data assets which can provide a much more holistic view of the consumer.
There is also a train of thought that suggests there's more data out there than we can process (which to some extent has always been true) and is dressed up as the latest trend associated with technology must-haves. There is also a suggestion that marketers will be unable to see the wood for the trees and are getting too immersed in the concept of Big Data in its own right, rather than how it can help their business or, indeed, their customers. Essentially it's not the size that matters, but rather having the right data to address the business objectives we should be working to.
Callcredit recently commissioned research (as part of the fastMap Marketing Gap analysis) to look at the changing path to buying, which found that DIY marketing is becoming more popular with new gaps emerging between the media people use when they are sourcing goods and the contact routes they want markets to use. For example there is a hard core of people who don't buy insurance, utilities or research credit deals direct and have no definite plans to. But on average 1 in 20 of those who are not already buying direct do have plans to start. Those who already buy these services direct have quickly embraced new media. Of the 7 in 10 who buy over the internet 22% are recent converts. Of the 2 in 5 that buy by phone, 8% have started recently and more than half of the 12% who purchase via mobile 7% are new users.
Interestingly when marketers were asked what their view was of a consumers buying behaviour they expected just over a quarter of consumers not to have bought the same services by post or mail order, in truth almost 3 in 5 have never done so and almost 4 in 5 have not and do not plan to buy them via their mobile -marketers expected the figure to be just over half.
Marketers also significantly overestimated the numbers who had started to use direct buying methods - in fact, they overestimated by more than 100% those who have started buying by mobile and by 50% those who recently started buying via the internet.
The research demonstrates that one of the greatest challenges for marketers is that a customer's purchasing experience is now an aggregate of online and offline events, mobile and desktop, store and device, marketing and service - and channel perspective.
Therefore it's more important than ever that marketers better understand the purchasing behaviours of their customers today, it's surprising to learn that there still remains a discord between what marketers think they know about their customers to what the actual customer does in reality.
Head of Consulting
Callcredit Information Group