Webinar Takeaways: Why Did the Customer Cross the Road?

In recent years, the retail industry has experienced a significant shake-up. With the emergence of big-brand online retailers, brick-and-mortar shops are in stiff competition with these digital giants. Last year I joined a webinar with Adoreboard’s CEO Chris Johnston wherein we discussed customer experience in the age of Amazon. If you happened to miss our live broadcast of the webinar, you can access the recorded version here. Here a few key takeaways.

The rise of digitally-influenced shopping, and its resulting impact on consumer expectations, has changed the game and raised the bar for brands looking to gain market share in an increasingly competitive space. Research has shown that what customers really value is ‘the experience’. 86% of shoppers will pay more for a better customer experience. Yet only 1% of customers feel that brands and businesses consistently meet their expectations (Source: Forbes).

We live in a time where retailers must realise that customers are in control, but they’re a very complex mix of ad avoiders and brand advocates. It is not impossible to imagine that, by 2020, customer experience will take over price and product as the key brand differentiator (Source: Walker). So how can retailers keep up with, and capitalise on, today’s retail revolution? How can they meet and exceed their customers’ expectations?

We’ve identified four key trends that are shaping the future of retail:

1: The Hyper Relevant Retailer

The modern customer is hyper-connected, hyper-empowered and wants hyper-convenience. Brands must deliver what customers desire: value, efficiency and engagement, both online and offline. The rise of online reviews, and individuals having the ability to interact with brands and retailers on social sites, has given customers the power to compare prices and get the best deal out there.

Customers want to buy at the greatest possible convenience and lowest possible price. In addition to this is the emergence of the ‘experience economy’; customers increasingly prioritise experiences, and seek memorable interactions that engage them in a rewarding way.

2: Bricks .vs. Clicks

The Importance of the ‘omni-channel’. It’s important to note here that its not necessarily Bricks or Clicks. Even retailers who started online often end up with brick versions of their marketplace. 78% of customers like shops that start online and then develop into physical stores (Source: Retail Dive). Digital and in-store experience are seen less and less as mutually exclusive experiences. Often they complement each other.

Omni-channel shopping is the new norm. Blurring the lines between online and in-store; brands are successfully linking on and offline behaviour to create a seamless customer experience, which should be the ultimate ambition for brands.

3: Tech is Transforming the Retail Journey

Technology is transforming our daily lives and customers are now far more empowered to seek out product information. In short, customers want the future. Now. Technology is disrupting the customer journey and improving the buying experience in an exciting way.

By 2020, 40% of all commerce transactions will be enabled by cognitive/AI personal shoppers and conversational commerce (Source: IDC). The merging of the physical and digital worlds is truly irresistible in today’s retail landscape. Brands must exploit all forms of digital disruption for their benefit. They must focus on the experience and position technology as the path to get there.

4: The Right Metrics

Achieving a true customer-centric experience requires metrics that track customer behaviour in a way that is credible (can be trusted to base decisions on), reliable (can be applied across customer journey life cycles and multiple touch points), accurate (representative of the entire customer base), precise (specific enough to provide insight and make business decisions) and actionable (provides an insight into what can be done to encourage customers to return).

Data is everywhere. Customers are constantly creating insights online with every purchase or interaction. According to Harvard Business Review, by 2020 it’s estimated that we’ll produce 44 zettabytes every day. That’s equal to 44 trillion gigabytes. Data should always be about creating value for the customer. Learn from them to create a better experience for them.

In a world where customers have fundamentally rewritten the retail rules, modern day shoppers have the power to buy anywhere, anytime, on any device. Now more than ever, relationships must be built on the customer’s terms. Here are 3 key takeaways that we think are practical steps for any retailer to take in rethinking the customer experience:

1. Optimise Customer Emotion

Insight shows the opportunity to focus emotional responses as a way to differentiate means focusing on what matters to them most, and the target emotions you want to create.

2. Captivate Customers

Increasingly, customers want to be entertained and inspired. So brands need to align with the new emotional needs of customers moving from transactional environments to retail theatres. Whilst physical stores provide a natural environment to create an immersive experience, blending this with digital experiences can continue the positive experience at a different or later stage of the customer journey.

3. Reduce Customer Effort

Insight shows that customers want to reduce the effort of their customer journey – the time it takes to return an item or to speak to someone about customer service. Brands that reduce customer effort will win.

Regardless of the headlines, retail is not dead. In fact, here lies the punchline: the physical store could be the most powerful and measurable media channel available to a brand. It acts as the hub of customer experiences. In-store remains an important channel for acquiring new customers; they serve as showrooms that drive customers online, whilst also working as fulfilment points for e-commerce operations.

From online to real-world interactions, all experiences need to be seamless and cohesive. Successful customer experience is about finding what’s valuable for the customer, and putting forward strategies that put their evolving needs at the heart of the decision-making process.

First posted here

Thinking out loud - Not just data

I think we need to stop putting one element of marketing as the lead. Yes, data has become much more prevalent in the marketing teams of today, but that doesn’t mean sidelining the brand and the product. Apple haven’t ditched producing amazing products because they have more data. KLM haven’t ditched what the brand stands for because they have more data. But they do use data to help deliver what their brand and products stand for

New Year’s resolutions for 2019 when it comes to data and technology

The beauty of my role in CRM and Data is that I get to help brands who have a genuine desire to simply do things better. As a consequence, I get to work and meet like-minded CRM and data focused individuals. They might work with organisations who are part of the tech ecosystem needed to support the brand’s objectives ; who share common interests on LinkedIn or who attend the DMA North Council on which I sit.

So I thought I would take the opportunity to ask some of them this simple question: ‘What should brands New Year’s resolutions be for 2019 when it comes to data and technology?’

April Mullen Director at Selligent Marketing Cloud

Their resolution should be ‘’ I will make cross-channel messages and journeys more effective’’

Artificial intelligence continues to be a trending topic for marketers. Although the industry is still in its AI infancy, 2019 will be a year where AI experimentation and application begins to take off.

What is AI going to make possible? Content optimization is an obvious area where AI can have an impact. Using machine learning, AI applications are able to make decisions on the types of offers and content shown to segments or even individuals. That’s just the beginning. Just as what’s contained within a message is dynamic, the journey will begin to develop a dynamic path based on an individual consumer’s needs. Journeys won’t be a mapped and static experience with linear pathing. The future of journeys using AI is analogous to building the sidewalk where the beaten down path has developed. Think of it as real-time optimization. It’s exciting to see the dream consumer experience that marketers have long desired to deliver finally becoming reality as a result of AI. 



Tom Howes - Director, Enterprise Sales Persado

Conversion data through email campaigns, has shown at great lengths, the ineffectiveness and overexposure of poor performing 'urgent' language. The drop off is even worse in paid media.

Brands need to think twice before using “HURRY: THESE DIAMONDS ARE SELLING FAST!” and “Cold Feet? Buy these socks ASAP!” People in 2019 don’t want to be told to buy on a deadline — even if the creative is good and your text is in all caps. Be sure to test other emotions as well. 

And guess what.. AI can be used today to enable your marketing team to do this effectively with little effort



Scott Logie - Managing Director, REad Group Insight

Brands need to take note of the increase in self-service technologies in 2019. This technology allows businesses to run important services automatically and effectively

The first is the use of AI and machine learning, which will automate contact strategies and customer profiling; enabling businesses to ensure that they are targeting the right people. The technology will become less expensive and therefore more accessible, meaning more organistions will have the ability to use it, not just the big ones.

The other key development in 2019 will be the use of Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), a technology that will give access to wider data sets for cleaning, profiling and data tagging. Under GDPR, there is an increased emphasis on the requirement to keep data held on customers clean and up-to-date.  DaaS enables data cleaning to be done automatically, in real-time, without staff having to manually process large data sets, enhancing productivity and data security. DaaS results in more intelligent and cost effective use of data.

Brands need to look at the use of open-source data for identifying geographic areas of focus. Some will even be able to use personal health data from fitness trackers, allowing insurance companies and other organisations to better understand target audiences, as well as to use and predict travel data to help decide on advertising locations.



Duncan Muir - Head of B2B CRM Enablement Standard Life

They should consider how to use their rich insights and data to ensure there’s recognition of the customers previous interactions to inform relevant and timely future interactions. Engaging with context is the way to build and grow relationships



Chris Johnston - CEO Adoreboard

Brands need to think customer touch-point rather than channel. Their first resolution should be to go the extra mile to discover all the customer touch-point with your brand. This will force them to test assumptions rather than assume the customer journey. In many cases that might mean having  to collect new data as they identify new gaps.

The  second resolution should look at the holistic view of customer rather than as data points. This might mean exploring emotional drivers of customers or getting out to speak with customers directly. They need to discover how  customers feel and why.

Business impact first. The final resolution is to communicate the business impact of data and not the data itself. This is should be a shift from actionable insight to decision ready insight. The insight  generated from the data should be connected to the business context. This will enable a move from what many experience as recommendation fatigue to empowering decision makers to actually prioritise the decisions they need to make. By connecting these decision ready insights through narratives rather than raw data they’ll create immense value for your firm in the year ahead.



Paul Meersman - Head of Marketing CDS

If brands should be making New Year’s Resolutions on how to use data in 2019 they should first look at how they intend to measure ROI. As companies invest in data analytics systems they need to prove how these systems are impacting their bottom line. Companies are also struggling with legacy systems. These two issues have to be tackled before they can use data to drive their business strategy so that data gives them a competitive edge



Thanks to everybody who contributed, it makes great reading

A clever blend of data is key to building loyalty

Whenever I go to York railway station and decide I want a coffee, I make the subconscious choice to go to Starbucks rather than any of the other outlets. Is this because I feel loyalty to Starbucks? No – it’s because I can get my espresso in a china cup rather than a paper one. At what point does a customer become loyal to a particular brand, anyway? Do they ever actually think: ‘I’m loyal to Brand X’? I’m not sure we have these conscious Road to Damascus moments. 
However, buying coffee is often dictated by availability – and being desperate enough to choose the lesser of many evils. More considered choices, such as supermarket, insurance provider or next car purchase, are much more likely to bring loyalty into the equation.

We often talk about ‘choice architectures’ during the decision-making process, in which defaults, frames and price anchors have a bearing on consumer choices. Ideally, brands want our decisions to be based on experiences we have had with that brand, product or service. The abundance of data now available to brands gives them the opportunity to influence, and hopefully enhance, the experience that customers have. As a result, they can have a positive influence when that customer comes to re-evaluate their needs.

Take car insurance. Aviva offers Drive, an app that monitors driving skills. Once the driver has completed 200 miles, they get an individual score out of 10 based on things such as cornering, braking and acceleration. Drivers who score 7.1 or more save an average of £170 on Aviva’s comprehensive car insurance. So this piece of IoT thinking (a mobile phone in my car) not only potentially makes me a safer driver but could also save me money. Forget the tricks of behavioural economics theory on the insurance quote page – I’m in.

What would prevent me from cancelling my gym membership? Personalised prompts from my gym to keep coming back if I start missing sessions are useful. So the fact that gyms like Pure Gym provide usage statistics like this means that they can use the data to understand my behaviour and react when that behaviour changes.

And if one of the reasons I don’t come in is because I hate when it’s too busy to use my favourite machines, why not let me know when it’s busy so I can plan my sessions accordingly?

One of the biggest issues Telco companies have when considering churn is the impact of ‘bill shock’, when a customer is distraught at the size of their mobile phone or data usage bill. And yet, data can tell them in advance when a customer is likely to go over their minute or data limit. My bank warns me when I’m in danger of going overdrawn, therefore my Telco provider can easily do the same thing.
In a similar vein, my credit card provider reminds me when I haven’t looked at my online statement for a while. Yes, it shows a sense of corporate responsibility to make sure I keep an eye on my finances but it also makes sense from a business perspective. If I run into trouble financially, having a credit supplier that has an eye out for me means their card won’t go near the shredder.
This stuff isn’t rocket science, so why aren’t more brands doing it? For some older organisations, pulling together all of their various data can be a painful process, while some companies feel they need to have the perfect data set before getting the ball rolling (they don’t – just take some data offline and play with it). There is a (slightly controversial) theory that some marketers think they know best and are afraid that the data will tell them otherwise or even take their jobs away.
But really, it’s just about data making brands even better – by looking at some of the real influences on customer loyalty and tapping into the data available to shift the loyalty dial in their favour.

First published on Zone's site

ePrivacy Directive: combining modern marketing and privacy

I was invited to attend a debate hosted by FEDMA on the future of ePrivacy and held at the European Parliament in Brussels on February 8th.

The event, ePrivacy Directive: combining modern marketing and privacy was hosted by Member of the European Parliament, Axel Voss.

Claire Bury, Deputy Director General of DG CNECT, at the European Commission set up the session by outlining the EU’s intention to align the ePrivacy directive with the recently adopted GDPR ( General Data Protection Regulation). ( Learn more about GDPR on the DMA’s website )

For those of you not in the know..this is Directive is more commonly known as the Cookie Directive.

In the first panel, ePrivacy: the right balance between business & buyers, Wojciech Wiewiórowski, Deputy European Data Protection Supervisor and Harald Lemke, Senior Vice President, Special Representative for e-government and e-justice at Deutsche Post DHL shared their views on what should be the focus of the ePrivacy Regulation proposal. Although everyone agreed that yes, the  confidentiality aspects of the ePrivacy Directive should be respected there was a disagreement on its impact on the growing digital and data economy in Europe. Mr Lemke, obviously representing the commercial world’s interests warned against implementing the Directive without first studying its impact on this economy. Bizarely Mr. Wiewiórowski claimed he had not seen any studies that flagged any impact on the industry (I’m not aware of any that having been commissioned)

Mr. Wiewiórowski also stressed his optimism that the Directive could be introduced in time to mirror the introduction of GDPR in May 2018. This not created a wave of sceptical smiles through the audience but also prompted Mr Lemke to flag that his legal team were so busy with GDPR that he doubted that they could then also cope with ePrivacy

Some mention was made of research carried out by the Norwegian national data protection authority, which found that consumers prefer random versus targeted advertising when given the choice. Although I’m not sure how much weight this should carry considering the maturity of the data and direct marketing in Norway.

Diana Jannsen from the Dutch DMA, presented some highlights from their recent study What consumers think about data. Interestingly one highlight is that 75% of consumers are willing to share data, but 89% of them state that business currently benefits most. The study is available to download in English here

In the second panel ,Judicael Phan, Senior Counsel at Criteo presented the different technical tools that already exist on the market to provide users with ways to express their preferences and in fact made a very strong case for how being much more transparent about the use of data can provide a business advantage

What’s the difference between a Directive and a Regulation? A regulation means that each of the member states in the EU must adhere to the exact same laws and ways of implementing them. Whereas each country in the EU can implement whatever version of a directive works best for their individual markets – usually a reflection of the maturity of that market

The annoying banner pop-ups that appear on any website we visit, asking for consent to collect cookies? That was the product of the last (and existing) EU cookie directive update. The new Directive actually drops these banners – as they are annoying – but actually then essentially insists that anyone who wants to drop cookies onto a device will need to go through more hoops to collect permission. More banners anyone?

And it’s not just websites – messaging apps also get roped into the new legislation! This Guardian article gives you a flavour

As mentioned above, the EU aim to get this place alongside GDPR in May 2018

To really feel your customers' pain, you have to stand right by their side

I’m going to make a bet with you. At some point last summer the sun properly came out (no, really), and the mercury started to rise. When it did, sales of ice cream started to rise. As it got hotter, they continued to rise… until, at about 25.3C, when they suddenly plateaud, before falling steadily as the temperature continued its hypothetical march towards the traditional “London hotter than place X!” headlines.

Why am I so sure? Big data tells me so.

Now, as Zone’s head of CRM, you might expect me to tell you that – as big data can tell you everything. However, I’m happy to admit that it can’t tell me why ice cream sales plateau at 25.3C, because it doesn’t know. You actually have to speak to people to understand the real-world dilemma that prompts this behaviour (apparently, this is the temperature at which concerns over melting outweigh a craving for refreshment).

Big data is incredible: it can help us map out customer journeys in a granular way, particularly when thinking about online experiences. But often the problem the consumer is trying to solve occurs offline, leaving a disconnect between the pain point and the big data. To bridge that disconnect, you have to talk to the customer – and that’s when you might find an opportunity.

Take washing powder. Retail sales data tells me that washing powder is bought on specific days early in the week (possibly after a weekend of multiple washes), or simply once a month when consumers do their big non food-related shops.

OK, fine – but now personalise it. If you’re like me, you realise that you have run out while standing at the washing machine (the dilemma). Standard operating procedure in the Cuzziol household is to jot it down on the shopping list ready for the next Waitrose order… and thus contribute to that standard big data analytic.

But in that pain point, there was an opportunity to bypass the shopping list. An obvious e-commerce solution might come in the form of a simple one-step order interaction with my mobile. But I don’t keep my mobile in my pocket when I’m at home. What I need is an ever-present, dedicated digital solution present at the pain point – such as Amazon’s Dash buttons.

The identification of these dilemmas – and their solutions – happens when we get closer to the customer than big data might allow. Essentially a kind of ethnography, it’s about gaining insight just by being with consumers, in their own environment, as they perform tasks. Focus groups and surveys can ask these questions, but don’t happen where the real action takes place – and are unlikely to discover that I actually don’t have my smartphone with me next to the washing machine.

We can use all the web analytics data to describe the journey a consumer takes when trying to make a purchase on an e-commerce platform, but it’s only by sitting with them and recording their struggles with the credit card section of a checkout that we get a richer understanding of what’s going on.

That’s why we place such a premium on user research, observing them on their digital journey to observe where the speed bumps are, and working on ways to smooth them out… even to the extent of mapping people’s facial expressions to the movements of a mouse on a test screen. A grimace, for example, can be an incredibly valuable data point.

Yes, big data can get us closer to customers, but we only get really close to them when we are literally close to them… and can share the pain point.

First published via the DMA

Gamification is now the point when it comes to customer loyalty

The shop-ocalypse has arrived, and as the twin horsemen of Black Friday and Cyber Monday looming on the horizon, supermarket security guards and server-maintenance technicians alike were crossing themselves in fear.

And while retailers -  both of the bricks and mortar and e-commerce variety – are hopefully enjoying the benefits of the annual pre-Christmas shot in the arm (I say most as, of course, we know that Asda are giving this year a miss), a question that often gets forgotten by their marketers is: ‘What do we do with all these new customers?’. Wearing my CRM hat, all too often I see too little attempt to look beyond the sort of ‘stack ‘em high, sell ‘em low’ mentality that will prevail this weekend in terms of follow-up responses to first-time interactors. 

It’ll certainly be interesting to see if the increased embracing of a gamification approach to CRM – i.e the application of elements traditionally associated with gaming  ­– has an effect, and whether the marketing departments of any major retailers adopt that kind of approach specifically to post-Black Friday purchasers.

Even the most basic CRM model knows three things about customers post-purchase: who they are, what they bought and when they bought it. And this week the ‘when’ is crucial, because as it’s Black Friday marketers know they like a deal. That’s the kind of genuine, actionable intelligence that retailers need to exploit as they attempt to drive more value than occasional purchases of heavily discounted goods. It’s here where the gamification aspect of a sophisticated CRM approach kicks in.

Whereas the old temptation for marketers was to see these customers merely as prime fodder for end-of-line discounting sales and the like, a smart CRM approach will have identified the desired behaviours, and seek to encourage and reward them on an ongoing basis – as well as ensuring there is more than one route to success (and reward) for the customer.

By delivering genuinely meaningful rewards (such as free priority delivery or early access to new products) and increasing their scale (in line with greater, yet still attainable challenges), gamification can create an ongoing relationship that goes beyond the occasional interaction generated by specified discounting or the now increasingly dated accumulation of points approach.

Look at what Marks & Spencer has done with the recent launch of its Sparks loyalty scheme, which now has gamification at the heart of its structure. The retailer has identified frequency of spend, amount spent, advocacy (hopefully) via reviews and promotion of CSR credentials – via ‘Shwopping’ – as the behaviours it wants to influence.

Points in the form of ‘Sparks’ are given based on these behaviours and, by reaching key thresholds, the customer is rewarded with access to special events and priority notifications of sales etc. The scheme goes further by promising to tailor rewards based on a member’s interests.

It’s a similar story with ASOS, but because of the very nature of the brand’s audience the social aspect of ASOS rewards will do the bulk of the lifting to encourage engagement with the brand. Currently when users post an image of themselves on social channels using certain hashtags the content is used on the ASOS website.

Moving forward, those signed up to the loyalty scheme will be awarded points for posting on social channels and interacting with content thus recognising, promoting and rewarding an natural existing behaviour. 

In this age of big data, there’s no excuse not to use this kind of approach: one that both understands a customer’s existing behaviour and attempts to alter it through ongoing interaction. It’s certainly a far better way of winning a customer’s loyalty than straight discounting… after-all, a digitally empowered customer is a notoriously fickle one. 

Post first published in Marketing

Do we ask too much of our analysts?

Have you ever hailed a cab driver who is new to the city and asked him to take you somewhere that you know kind of exists but aren’t too sure where it is, but you need to be there in 30 minutes ?
Of you course you haven’t. But that is exactly what we are asking of our analysts

Whether or not the analyst is embedded in the client group, marketing function this is what we end up doing.
‘Hi Jeff, we ran this email campaign last month. If we get someone to extract some data for you would you mind pulling together some insights for us so we can present to the client the day after tomorrow?’
Sound familiar? Of course it does. We do it all the time. We have analysts. They are smart guys. They know about email metrics.

What’s the problem? Let me explain.

Our analysts help us move along the journey from Data, to Information to Knowledge, Understanding, and finally Wisdom

Ervick, Michael (2012) DIKW Perspective

They will often be tasked with moving numbers from its rawest form into some sort of organised collection say within Excel. Converting Data into Information. At this point we can do some Descriptive Analytics where we can talk about who did what, where and when. And to be honest as one off pieces of work, this is pretty easy for anyone to do.

It’s the next stage that begins to take some time, effort and to be honest a little bit of experience.
Before we can convert this information into Knowledge and Understanding (How and why things happened), the analyst needs to apply some experience and a theoretical framework to deliver. Experience because he knows that the manipulation, summing, averaging of certain pieces of data can give us some further knowledge. But it’s only by applying some framework to the thinking that he can help us really understand. This framework could be as simple as say the one that lies behind an A/B Test within that email campaign or slightly more complicated in the way that the campaign was delivered to multiple segments with varying copy and image permutations. 

And again, a smart analyst will make a pretty good stab at this but we would probably get the most out of him by involving them at the creation of the campaign and getting them to fill the measurement and evaluation piece of the brief. Not only does this then shortcut the time to delivering the Knowledge and Understanding (Insight) but will probably have resulted in a better measurement and evaluation framework to start with. 

When discussing the Business, Programme and Campaign KPIs it’s probably a good idea to have your analyst sit with you to make sure that the things you want to measure are actually the ones you should be measuring and in fact, that your tech allows you to. Even by sharing upfront what decisions you are hoping to make as a result of this activity will draw out any limitations on the original tracking/measurement requirements and indeed what improvements can be made to the Analysis Brief. 

‘Analysis Brief?’ I hear you ask. Of course. We have no issues providing a creative or editorial brief but seem to forget that to establish the effectiveness of the ensuing creative or copy, we need to make sure that their impact is analysed thoroughly . Without the Analysis Brief, we will only get delivered what the analyst thinks we wants, not what we all want.

Is it no surprise then that when you come to the real value add of insight generation, the gift of Wisdom in doing the right things going forward, we miss out and just end up in the first place the cab driver thinks looks interesting. 


Leeds United 1 Burnley 1

As the big brands make the most of the kick off of the Barclays Premier League we often forget about how fans of shall we shall teams who aren't famous anymore ( a popular chant at Elland Road these days) might see marketing comms from brands

Here's my 24 hours build up to the game


The main channel I noticed football related messages in was email. Pizza Express got the ball rolling( pardon the pun), with the opportunity to get Pizza as a take-away

Interesting as it wasn't really the main message in their regular offer email and with the majority of games being televised this weekend being midday or early afternoon kick offs, I'm wondering if a stronger message targeted at males when the midweek games get underway this week might have been a better option or in fact a stronger reference to some of the evening programmes such as Match of the Day or Channel 5's new Football League show on Saturday evening

Next up, BetFair ( ok so I like the odd flutter). Obviously a big weekend for the betting sites in particular with bets no longer being taken for the Great British Bake Off 

Betfair tried to convince me with one of their Get a Free Bet propositions


Then the postman came a calling with my Leeds Membership Card. I'm a big fan of personalisation on the outer


As a BT Sport customer I then noticed that Gumtree were getting in on the act

Hannah Wilson, Gumtree’s head of marketing, said on a Marketing Week piece : “One of the key things for us is improving the awareness and consideration of our motors category. We have 95% brand awareness but our motors category is relatively new. So far this year we’ve had a bias towards targeting women and we wanted to find a property that was almost exclusively male''


Just before heading off for the lunchtime kick off, SkyBet got into my inbox

But I have to admit the piece that made me smile was this piece of old fashioned OOH on my walk in between the railway station and the ground with Sky Sports using the image of a famous Leeds goal ( Tony Yeboah to be precise) to promote its heritage with the Premier League - Yes Leeds once played in that elite division

ps..I may have received a Puma email as well but it was promoting the new Arsenal kit so was immediately deleted!

Do as I do, not as I say

Or how data based on behaviour delivers better customer experience than data based on what customers tell you

Versions of this have appeared via Zone's weekly Digital Distractions email and the The Wall blog

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses’’ Henry Ford (allegedly)

History is littered with examples of how actually talking to customers about what they want has resulted in shall we say less than productive outcomes for organisations. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink cites numerous and entertaining examples of how consumer research lets us down.

This boils down to many factors and in fact doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to customers, but try to understand the context in which they are making those decisions or providing us with that information. I wonder how many restaurants collect information from customers signing up for discounts who tell them that Aberdeen, Aberaeron, Abingdon or Acton is there favourite restaurant; how many retailers see people who register for an account who have their birthday on January 1st; or market research companies have questionnaires completed by individuals who claim their annual income is one range higher than it actually is.

You could argue that all data is made equal, but some more equal than others.

In general I have a rule of thumb that Demographic data is less reliable than Profile data is less reliable than Behavioural data is less reliable than Transactional data.

Demographic data – Does my postcode really flag me as being similar to my neighbour

Profile Data – Even if accurate when I gave it to you, that was 12 months ago

Behavioural Data – Yes, I told you I was interested in Politics but the funny pages online are so damn appealing. Anecdotally I’ve heard that Film Four audiences in research groups told them they should be running French art house films and it turns out everyone just tuned into Dumb and Dumber 2

Transactional Data – Ok, so now I’ve put my money where my mouse is

But of course context is important and that can often be the most important factor that needs to be considered. Amazon were great at suggesting products similar to the cake boxes we recently bought for our daughters christening. But to be then bombarded with emails and given amazon.com recommendations all about cake boxes and related products doesn’t really work when I’d rather be getting recommendations based on the constant stream of comedy DVDs and CDs I’ve bought over the last few years and watch on Amazon Prime.

It’s confusing isn’t it. And that’s before we start talking about how customer behaviour might give us a clue to future spend. I hear that Homebase can predict that a major home project is on the cards based on your purchase of a random packet of bird seeds when in one of their stores.

All of this data can be useful, but perhaps it’s the changes in a customers behaviour or transactions that matter the most. I may be constantly engaged with your content and with your products but what does it mean when I start to show a decline in watching your TV programmes or eating your pizzas?. Is that an indication of future churn?

Conversely what happens over a period of time if I become even more engaged with your content? Is that the real time to deliver a member get member offer rather than just running it to everyone who currently has an engagement score of 8. It’s the rapid movement from a score of 5 to 8 that might offer more insight

Stringing together data and the customer journey both off and online can be a powerful tool but a journey that can be quite heroic . Don’t believe me? Check out this ad by software company Thunderhead