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Guest opinion: Driving sales through intelligent data-led marketing

Rachel Morgan, planning director at data insight agency Planning-inc, explains how important it is to establish the right database to support the marketing and business strategy, helping to build profitable relationships with customers.

"As the automotive market tries to recover from the hits it took during the recession, there has never been a more vital time for companies to ensure they are ahead of the game in terms of delivering effective marketing and sales strategies.

Building and maintaining a marketing database is an invaluable investment which provides the foundations for improved customer understanding, greater effectiveness of the marketing strategy and ultimately, increased revenues.

A good place to start in designing a relevant, valuable marketing database is to map out the customer journey, identifying the instances that a customer interacts with your brand, and where you capture relevant data or data footprints.

During such instances, where a customer is giving you an opportunity to understand them more, it is important to listen.

For example, many people in the market for buying a new car will head straight to the manufacturer's website, presenting a perfect opportunity to gather information to aid the eventual sale.

Many of these sites include configurators that allow potential customers to customise and build their perfect car online.

They may also browse various models on your website, request or download a brochure or request a test drive.

All these interactions are key opportunities to capture relevant data, enabling you to build a greater understanding of your customers.

Also consider your communication strategies and if any data is captured as a result of them – for instance, you may ask customers to complete a questionnaire as part of a welcome programme, or send out surveys to your customer or prospect base.

Where a customer is sharing this information with you, it is important you do not ignore it and use it for more personalised, relevant communications.

Most companies will have access to numerous sources of customer data such as those illustrated above, but they are often held in disparate locations with little interaction between them.

Integrating such sources into a Single Customer View (SCV) would provide a vast and valuable source of information for relevant and profitable communications.

Start by considering your business objectives and marketing strategy, and relate the data that you would like to acquire back to these objectives.

This will help your prioritise your data sources that will support and drive your strategy forward.

A SCV should then be designed to pull each relevant data source into a single database enabling the marketer to access and use all data collected at different touch points for an individual customer.

The SCV will also provide a robust platform for future customer analysis and insight such as understanding customers’ likelihood to remain within the brand, propensity to purchase a particular model or propensity to respond to your marketing campaigns.

Applying such insights to communications can have a positive impact on customer behavior, and subsequently business revenues.

Ultimately, knowing the best way to work with data, and how to identify and source the right data in the business is vital.

It is beneficial to get resource with a complimentary blend of technical and marketing experience involved in the SCV build process in order to ensure that the solution designed is not just achievable but also able to best maximize revenue."

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