Technology is the enabler: Focus on making the customer the driver of performance success

by OMG Performance Marketing, The Drum

As a digital industry we’re naturally excited about the emergence of new technologies and the capabilities they create, but it could be said that this innovation only materialises into tangible benefits when customer behaviours shift to engage with the technology and the space it occupies.

The ‘year of mobile’ is a case in point – I first heard the phrase being commonly used in 2010 but it was only in 2013 that substantial results were achieved, as consumer behaviours shifted.

Recent advancements in attribution and analytics are proving powerful when used to understand where and when customers are in digital space. Innovations in technologies such as programmatic buying, retargeting and remarketing are driving success in engaging customers effectively.

But the key to these technologies delivering results in performance marketing, as with any marketing, is first and foremost understanding who the customer is, what they are doing, where and when they are doing it in and the media they use to engage.

Getting this customer centric approach right is key to creating performance marketing campaigns that drive not only acquisition, but valuable acquisition, where brands can acquire not just customers, but the right kind of customers for them.

Big data as an approach enables brands to understand audience profiles and behaviours in ways that has never been possible before. Not only does this data allow a brand to better understand which of its own customers are most valuable, it also helps them to understand where they came from and enables us to define strategies to acquire more of them.

This integrated approach is currently the exception rather than the norm, but results from early adopters is demonstrating that publishers play an important part in
driving not just customers, but the those who proffer a higher sales value or cross sell propensity, for example.

One of our clients analysed their customer segments, identifying their most profitable segments and then overlaid these against all marketing channels currently in their marketing mix. The results were exceptionally positive for performance marketing, with eCRM and affiliate channels achieving both the lowest cost of acquisition and most profitable customer segments.

The objective now is to scale this volume further whilst maintaining, or improving, that quality. Knowing who your customers are is an important first step, but not enough in itself.

Understanding when and how to engage them is key. Retargeting is a fine example of how the timing of an offer can positively influence conversion, and where we’ve seen brands incorporate this as part of their strategy, conversion rates through this channel are typically five to 10 per cent higher than a banner or listing on site.

More specifically, an emerging brand identified that the preferred engagement channel for their most valuable customer segment was through telephony. Integrating a cost per call campaign alongside their cost per sale campaign drove substantially more valuable results, with upsell rates 110 per cent higher compared to the standard online journey.

It’s another example of how consumer behaviour is the driver and technology is the enabler for brands to engage with the customers that are most important to them.

In truth acquiring high value customers has never been the challenge – acquiring high value customers at volume and for an acceptable acquisition cost is far harder. That
may mean targeting specific groups of consumers on a broader reaching publisher. By considering what to promote, and incorporating offers and propositions that are relevant to specific demographics it is possible to exert more control of the type of customer acquired. Working with a national brand, exclusive offers were tailored to
fit specific channels.

This increased acquisition by 15 per cent attained a 30 per cent higher AOV from these customers, and increased cross sales of complimentary products by 100 per cent compared to other channels within the performance mix.

These examples clearly show that as technology continues to advance, the ability to deploy strategy that delivers profitability is easier, but only if strategy is devised
with a customer centric approach. We need to be mindful not to become too caught up in the technology itself and recognise that success comes from the new opportunities that technology brings to engage and understand customers and their behaviour better.

It may be a cliché, but it doesn’t matter how fast the digital landscape moves, we need to not lose sight of the fact that performance marketing success is best achieved when the customer is front of mind.

Carla Arrindell, MD UK, OMG