As consumers use an increasing number of channels and devices to interact with retailers, brands must ensure they have strong analytics rigor and processes in place to understand how to communicate to today’s shopper. These processes must help retailers attract and retain shoppers by effectively analyzing data and measuring the success of marketing strategies and channels. Analytics tools help companies gain insight into changing customer behaviors, target consumers through the right channels, and continue to grow their sales to gain greater share of wallet.
As the number of purchasing methods expands along with the amount of data available on consumer behavior, a company’s measurement tools need to be more sophisticated to keep up. This white paper provides insight into
analytic tools available and their impact on both top-line sales and bottom line profits.
Measuring individual customer behavior
To effectively measure and analyze consumer behavior, companies need a traceable process to tie sales to individual customers. Typically, a unique identifier is mapped to a database or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform that tracks each customer. This is a key element for retailers to measure the value of every customer and the incremental benefit of every interaction with the customer.
The database or CRM platform should be designed to track all interactions with customers across all touch points. This enables companies to measure consumer spending by channel, frequency, etc., to determine what types of campaigns consumers respond to and their preferred channels of engagement. Once these types of analytics are in place, retailers can calculate the value of each customer or defined customer-level segment. This becomes crucial in order to determine the communication, prioritization and marketing investment strategies.
What to measure
When measuring the effectiveness of a marketing campaign, there are several metrics that should be analyzed to determine the impact:
• Incremental response rate
• Incremental sales per mailed
• Total incremental sales
• Incremental average ticket size
• Test cells for offer, segment or creative
These metrics evaluate whether the campaign generated the desired performance results and goals. In addition, the results of a new campaign can be compared against prior campaigns to determine which offers, strategies, timing, and volumes yield the greatest incremental results. The information and insights obtained from this process should be incorporated into the marketing plan, along with regular testing to continually refine the strategy and optimize the marketing budget.
Set up a test and learn structure
A key element in measuring the success of a marketing campaign is incorporating a valid test and learn segment. It is important to establish a control group that is excluded from the offer or campaign. Having a separate control group allows retailers to measure the effectiveness of their marketing strategy and whether the test offer generated a lift in sales. In this way, retailers can experiment testing the offer, creative, or targeting strategy. Sometimes multiple combinations of approaches can also be tested simultaneously.
To do this, it is important to ensure that an appropriate sample size for the control group is selected so the results are statistically significant and can be attributed to the strategy. A statistical significance test (“T-test”) can be run ahead of time to measure the sample size and validity of the test. It is also important to randomly select the control group to avoid selection bias, which can lead to inaccurate results and overstate the value of the marketing campaign.
Five critical tools to help improve marketing results
The following five analytic tools help a company clarify who their customers are, how those customers interact with their brand, and what their buying habits are—so marketing resources and budgets can be focused for the biggest impact.
Targeting and Predictive Modeling:
Focus your efforts for maximum impact
Targeting: In addition to a differentiated, compelling offer, targeting also plays a significant role in campaign performance. It is critical to measure which customers or segments are more likely to generate incremental sales and which offers are most attractive to a particular audience.
By optimizing customer targeting strategies, companies can ensure they are marketing the most relevant offers, services and value to customers and thus maximize their return on marketing investment. Since markets often change over time, it’s important to periodically reevaluate the target groups to make sure they are still relevant.
Predictive modeling: Modeling is another key analytical strategy used in successful marketing campaigns. In essence, predictive modeling is an attempt to predict a campaign’s results based on relevant past data. This tool can reveal how changes in customer behavior or marketing strategy can influence shopping patterns, campaign performance, sales, and profitability.
Predictive modeling can be leveraged to:
• Acquire new customers
• Predict the profitability of a customer
• Identify which customers are likely to leave the brand
• Predict who is likely to spend more or less in the following year
• Determine the next likely purchase
• Measure which offer(s) result in higher responses
• Develop a lifetime value score for the customer (LTV)
Another method is back testing, which is conducted after a campaign is completed to evaluate
the results that would have been achieved had a certain model been selected. This model can
then challenge the existing strategy in a live test in order to acquire new insights and determine
Track and refine the number of customer interactions for optimal impact
Many companies engage their customers through multiple communication channels in order to build brand awareness, drive customer loyalty and increase sales. All types of communications—including general brand messaging, personalized offers, events, and notification of sales or clearance items—should be tracked to determine the number of times each customer is being contacted through each media channel. This information provides insight into the optimal number of touches by customer or segment, and helps identify those channels and offer preferences that drive engagement the most. An effective contact management strategy helps companies avoid file fatigue, ensure messaging remains fresh, and reduces clutter in the customer’s eyes.
A successful contact management system starts with the right infrastructure—a key component being a solicitation history table that keeps track of every communication and campaign. This helps to determine:
• Number of touch points per customer and channel
• Timing of each communication
• Types of communications/offers targeted to each customer
• Purchasing channels used
• Campaign and offer response rates
• Customer service inquiries
This critical information can be leveraged to drive marketing strategy by measuring which campaigns and communications are most effective for each customer/segment, and to determine where and how each retailer should prioritize their marketing dollars.
How do we maximize sales without overwhelming the customer?
Often, if a marketing campaign is successful, our immediate reaction is to do more of it. For instance, if a free email coupon offer is successful, should we repeat the offer six times in the next two months? Not necessarily. In fact,
studies show that increasing marketing touch points does not always translate into increasing success. There is an inflection point, after which increased communications come with diminishing returns.
The key then is to determine the maximum number of marketing touch points needed to achieve the highest sales and ROI, while minimizing the number of opt-outs.
The example below illustrates a successful method for measuring—and achieving— maximum results while balancing the number of touch points.
In this example, incremental sales increased with each touch— up to a certain point. Customers who were targeted five times had the highest incremental sales, with a significant drop-off at six touches. In general, once the saturation point is reached, it is no longer profitable to target customers and could have a negative impact.
By measuring prior response behavior through solicitation history and number of contacts, targeting can be improved to drive higher response rates and yield incremental sales per customer.
The key is to determine the maximum number of marketing touch points.
Contact and engage customers in their preferred channel
A key step in channel optimization is identifying which channels the customers prefer. Consumers interact with retailers in multiple ways, including:
• In-store shopping and browsing
• Online Web: research, browse and buy
• Open and click through emails
• Mobile/digital: apps, text messages and mobile wallet
• Direct mail and catalogues
• Call or visit customer service
• Loyalty programs— points accumulation and coupon redemption
Besides optimizing the frequency of customer contacts, optimizing the types and numbers of interaction channels will also improve the marketing results. Data shows that customers who shop multiple channels yield significantly higher sales. In fact, these omni-channel shoppers have been shown to account for nearly twice the sales as in-store only customers.
Understand each unique audience segment for customized communication
Understanding customers’ shopping habits allows companies to better reach them and enjoy greater marketing success and profitability. Knowing customer’s shopping behaviors, such as if a customer shops on discount or clearance only, generates a higher number of returns, shops exclusively online, never responds to marketing campaigns, or makes purchases in a single category, all contribute to understanding the customer to allow for more effective engagement. These factors should be analyzed to acquire a single view of the customer in order to improve personalization, deliver higher response rates, and influence the timing and types of offers.
As shown in the chart below, the response rate of different segments varies greatly. Obtaining this information and mapping it back to individual customer channel and touch point preferences helps improve marketing effectiveness and ROI.
Determining the right communication channel is a key component of CRM strategy. Analyzing which channels customers prefer helps retailers learn to optimize their marketing dollars. For example, if a customer never responds to direct mail, those dollars can be allocated elsewhere and their channel preferences can be tagged and used for future communications and offers.
Media Mix Modeling:
Optimize results by adjusting the media mix
Media Mix Modeling analyzes marketing spend per channel and its impact on sales, allowing retailers to measure the incremental sales attributed to specific marketing efforts. It also determines the level of sales that would have been achieved without marketing, providing an accurate representation of return on marketing investment. By seeing how their marketing mix affects sales and ROI, companies are able to refine their strategy or channel mix as needed.
The process of Media Mix Modeling also uncovers “sensitivities” that show the level of sales increase or decrease along with different levels of investment. This allows companies to vary their marketing budget by market in order to maximize sales and ROI as well as establish a baseline measure so a company can analyze its marketing performance over time.
The development and implementation of a strong analytics toolkit helps maximize the effectiveness of marketing programs. It begins with setting up the right measurement strategy in order to uncover incremental gains for all
marketing initiatives. The right structure captures solicitation history and uses traceable data to tie back to the drivers of customer behavior. An additional focus on media mix optimization will provide insight and enable retailers to
adjust their marketing spend across all channels in order to maximize sales and ROI while staying within budget. Measurement is a critical component in marketing, and should be deployed across all campaigns to influence strategy
and drive improved results.
The implementation of effective analytic tools is often the difference between marketing campaign success and failure. An organization can either create these tools in-house, or hire a competent, experienced company to implement the tools and provide advice.
For additional insights from Synchrony Financial, click here.
Author: David Liebskind—Vice President, Analytics Consulting Business Leader
Sue Yasav—Vice President, Thought Leadership and Research Insights
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