Jim Hodgkins, managing director, Experian Marketing Services, explains why an agile approach to marketing is the real x-factor behind marketing success.
The recession forced many businesses to re-evaluate marketing spend and as a result, much has been made about how marketing should respond to economic recovery. However, as consumers, we have all responded differently.
The fact remains that there is no universal approach when it comes to how consumers and prospects behave, especially during times of economic uncertainty. Some of us tightened our purse strings, some continued to spend, only making slight changes to their behaviours while others, owing to low interest rates through mortgages may have even felt better off.
It is against this backdrop that we will explain why an agile approach to marketing is essential if an organisation is to stand out from the crowd. .
Five steps to marketing agility
Agile marketing is the ability to adapt marketing activities quickly and successfully in response to changes in customer behaviour, market conditions and business direction to help increase overall market share.
It is a theory that once put in to practice can deliver exceptional results that will improve the performance of an organisation.
Yet it is also one that needs to be implemented carefully and in order to successfully adopt an agile approach to marketing, we have identified five crucial steps organisations should follow.
1. Join up customer insight, product and channel
Organisations need to live and breathe the concept of agility, making changes quickly and ensuring the speed at which this is done does not counter the benefit of change. Businesses that can identify where the overlaps in a business lie are likely to be far more successful at becoming more agile than those that do not.
It is often the businesses that have a joined up structure that succeed here as they can free up teams to offer best practice, identifying which channels, products and decision makers need to be involved in a campaign and at what stage.
2. Create a single customer view
Obtaining a single view of your customers is a vital step in becoming agile. This can be done by creating a marketing database to store all your customer data, whether it is an address, purchase history, a customer’s propensity to purchase new goods or how responsive they are to particular forms of marketing.
With all your customer data integrated and presented ready for use as a single record, organisations can gain valuable customer insight across a number of channels to deliver improved knowledge of customer behaviours to enhance experience, relationships, retention and cross sell strategies and activities. This is gold dust to any marketer looking to adopt an agile approach to their marketing campaigns.
3. Get customer insight and make it work
Insight into customers – previous purchase habits, channel interactions, geo-demographic data, lifestyle preferences, modelled propensities and so on - enables organisations to create targeted campaigns that deliver real results, whilst improving the efficiency of marketing spend.
Geo-demographic data is particularly important. The ability to target customers and prospects more precisely in the areas they live and work and then analyse this in relation to the location of retail outlets and geographical distribution of traffic to a website can also help marketers allocate resources more efficiently, improve response and maximise ROI.
4. Embrace marketing automation
Marketing automation is a move towards a less resource intensive and more trigger and event-driven marketing approach. It has a key role to play in marketing agility and requires an organisational culture to be comfortable setting triggers and business rules for marketing activity, defining what will happen at a certain “trigger” or event and then allowing that course of action to happen without further intervention.
Marketing automation technologies can significantly increase the speed at which companies can react to changing customer habits and profiles, helping to ensure that customer communications achieve consistent relevance around both “message” and “moment.”
5. Get customer insight onto the boardroom agenda
What customers are doing is a far more relevant barometer of the financial climate, than what the economists and media tell us. So, it’s vital to bring this knowledge into the boardroom so that marketing activities can be tightly aligned to wider business objectives, this in turn will allow marketers to gain approval and sign off more quickly, get more buy-in to initiatives and result in fewer hoops to jump through.
The good news is that in this world of data-driven marketing it is getting easier to get insight onto the boardroom agenda. Data is losing its nerdy tag and is becoming a recognised area of expertise within many organisations.
Marketing agility is about being fast, responsive and flexible in your approach to marketing campaigns. However, it requires a shift in approach and demands that organisations put the customer at the heart of the business, from financial planning to marketing campaigns.
The five steps we have outlined above are vital if organisations are to make the transition to becoming a more agile and responsive business that reacts to change. Beyond this it is about adopting a mindset that is open to new ideas and approaches.
Organisations that are truly agile can expect to enjoy rewards that will help them stand out from the crowd and win the lion’s share of the market.
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