With small data here and big data there and lots of data everywhere, marketers must feel like Old MacDonald on a free-range farm. Small data. Big data. Demographic data. Behavioral data. 

Rather than feeling overwhelmed by data, where should marketers start and how can they use data effectively?

Marketers Aren't Psychic

The best place to start planning is with your customers. We know customers want personal and relevant messages — messages sent at the right time in the right way. As digital experts, we are good at targeting the message, but we are not good at being psychic. 

This is why intent data is so valuable. Intent data informs the timing of the message — the most important element of any campaign.

Intent data comes in many forms. We can understand prospects’ goals by evaluating their search terms, the Web pages they visit, and the information they request or download. Like breadcrumbs on a trail, each little action consumers take tells the story of what they plan to do. 

And thanks to the pervasiveness of smartphones, we know far more about customer preferences and intent-rich moments than we ever have.

So how are companies using intent data today?

Know When To Hold 'em, Know When to Fold 'em

Twenty-eight percent of consumers today lease their vehicles. It has been a long-term practice for call centers to try and help determine customer intent at least 90 days before the lease ends. The calls cost over $15 per outreach and have extremely low response rates. Customers just don’t want to talk to a call center!

One auto finance company achieved 34,000 online declarations of intent from consumers. They in turn informed dealers and the vehicle brands of the customer's intent, so they could directly follow-up and retain the customer. 

How did they do this? By including an option for the consumer to click on their intent within their online account.

Another example from the automotive world is when customers request payoff information on their retail contract for their current vehicle. This action is a reliable sign that customers intend to defect and/or sell their vehicle and buy a new one. That is the optimum time for the lender to offer a great loyalty offer to retain the customer.

Don't Be Left on the Farm

The ability to integrate data into a relevant, personal experience has historically been problematic. Both legacy systems and the way companies compartmentalize their customer sales and services areas have created giant silos of data. The challenges with leveraging intent data are no different.

In a recent Forrester study, marketers shared that when it comes to behavioral data like intent data, the big issues they experience are:

  • Inaccurate data (57 percent)
  • Inability to combine first- and third-party data (49 percent)
  • Inability to feed intent data into targeting technology (54 percent)

Customer data platforms (CDP) address these issues. CDPs are a modern version of a customer data warehouse. A CDP connects the silos of data, which results in a big data solution that provides one total view of the customer.

Basically, the CDP works as a data bridge across the data and people silos. It connects the data to the marketer’s toolbox (email systems, marketing automation, Web content management, call centers, etc.). It gives marketers access to first- and third-party data and allows them to feed the data into a targeting technology, personal microsites, email or SMS text messaging to drive customer behavior. Call centers or other parties that need to consume the data can access it.

Most CDPs are Software as a Service (SaaS) products, which means implementation typically costs less because there is no need for capital-intensive IT infrastructure costs. It also means solutions can be live within months.

Bridging the gap between the business and the customer with a nimble digital customer experience layer allows a business to launch, learn and adjust as the landscape shifts. Without this bridge or platform, marketers risk being left out on the farm.

Title image by Siobhan Fagan. All rights reserved