Composing Multi-Channel Harmony for a Single-Customer View

February 19, 2019 Brady Walker

Customer identities are increasingly fragmenting across digital channels as e-commerce shifts and evolves. To build loyalty in this complex landscape, retailers must reframe their efforts by adopting a single-customer view.

Thanks to the rapid proliferation of MarTech, retailers have a seemingly endless slate of media channels and marketing strategies at their disposal. And while most retail marketers have realized that leveraging these tools and techniques to improve personalization is the name of the game, many haven’t acknowledged a crucial caveat: personalized strategies are ineffective without a harmonized view of every customer across channels.

The rise of e-commerce has allowed retailers to amass previously unimaginable volumes of customer-specific data. But this immense scale has introduced a significant problem of integration.

Siloed information can lead to a limited scope of insight and a host of misguided assumptions. Because many well-engineered marketing tools only capture a sliver of individual customers’ behavior, they aren’t totally suited to inform personalization strategies.

Ultimately, a channel-centric approach to personalization will almost always fall short of delivering nuanced, sophisticated customer targeting because such an approach results in cobbled-together customer portraits that are fragmented and incomplete. Don’t worry, though. There’s a better way.

Why a Single-Customer View Is Paramount to a Loyal Customer Base

Let’s consider a scenario. Imagine that during the course of a single browser session, new customer Jayne Dough engages with a retailer in three distinct ways: she clicks through an email promoting a dress sale for herself, she browses Facebook Marketplace for men’s boots for her brother, and she visits the brand’s website to browse men’s athletic apparel for her husband.

Here’s the rub: while all three of these engagements involve the same individual, the retailer’s marketing execution tools will likely register Jayne’s varied activity as the behavior of three individuals.

An email delivery service optimizing for opens and clicks might infer she is a coupon-clipping woman looking for a bargain. A social analytics platform prioritizing view-through conversions might conclude she is an urban-dwelling male refreshing his winter style. And the retailer’s website personalization algorithms might glean that she is a middle-aged man looking to get in shape.

These three hypothetical customers have very different needs and psychologies—what appeals to one will not appeal to another—and represent vastly different lifetime values for the brand.

For the retailer, pinpointing Jayne Dough’s true identity is essential: she’s at a crucial juncture where a well-conceived marketing intervention might nurture her into a loyal repeat customer, but confused messaging could undermine the brand’s image and deter her from returning or even from making a first purchase at all.

What a Single-Customer View Can Do for Your Business

Rather than using unintegrated customer insights, a single-customer view attempts to put Humpty Dumpty (Jane’s fragmented customer identity) back together again. By stitching together numerous customer data points across multiple channel execution tools and analytics platforms, a single-customer approach provides a holistic picture of how individual buyers choose to engage with a brand.

Understanding the behaviors that mark distinct groups within your customer base gives you the 30,000-foot view from which you can more easily test and tailor your marketing to accommodate those behaviors.

The difference is like the general who rides into battle versus the general who stays out of the melee to watch from a hill. The general on the field might feel productive, but the one on the hill has the objective view of what’s working, what’s not, and what exactly needs to happen to win. The marketer with the best hill (of data-driven insight) is the one who’s the most strategically placed to win.   

Understanding how customers are distributed across different stages of the customer journey helps identify key pockets of results-driving potential. This is what we call the opportunity landscape.

Regardless of where an individual falls along the customer journey, adopting a single-customer view highlights a clear “optimizable opportunity”—a low-effort, evergreen initiative to consistently engage customers.

Addressing Pain Points With a Personalized Approach

This slight change of perspective can produce remarkable results. For instance, we recently worked with a brand who came to us with a nagging one-time buyer problem.

Applying our analytics to their customer data, we mapped their opportunity landscape and found that they did, indeed, a too-high percentage of one-time buyers—higher than comparable companies—and that nurturing more of these buyers into repeat customers would be the single most effective step they could take to move the needle on sales revenue.

Drilling deeper into their data, we identified a cluster of recently acquired customers who had all the markers of one-time buyers but, contrary to expectations, went on to make a second purchase.

This raised a number of critical questions: what went into these customers’ decisions? What differentiated these customers from one-and-done customers, and how could the brand leverage that information to convert more one-time buyers into loyal customers moving forward?

Working within a single-customer view, Custora found that these unexpected repeat buyers were particularly interested in en vogue fashions. They initially engaged with our partner brand for its trendsetting offerings, and they came back to update their wardrobe as trends moved.

The brand’s actual one-time buyers had initially engaged with the brand to purchase chic basics—practical and dependable items that would weather more than one fashion season.

Despite the heterogeneity of their customer base, the brand’s post-purchase welcome series catered exclusively to the fashionista, making no attempt to cultivate meaningful relationships with more understated dressers or customers drawn to other aspects of the brand’s identity. To replace this one-size-fits-all approach, we helped the brand design a multiple-segment welcome series that empowered the brand to tailor its introductions to the specific needs of its distinct customer types.

Now, by the time the brand’s first-time customers check out with their online purchases, they’ve provided enough data to automatically be placed in the proper customer segment, and voilà, they’re greeted with highly relevant post-purchase content.

Unsurprisingly, as soon as the brand made this data-informed adjustment to its welcome series, it saw a sustained lift in its one- to two-time buyer rate.

To learn more about customer-obsessed personalized marketing and how your brand can replicate this retailer’s results, watch our webinar on building campaigns using a single-customer view.


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