OPINION: Marketers must retain control of consumer data

When you open your presents next week, consider yourself lucky if a really clear guide to successful multi-channel marketing is among them.

Because the pressure in 2003 to come up with the strategy that allows customers to be able to contact companies when and how they want - and be recognised - will become even more relentless. Relentless, because moving into the multi-channel arena is a potent mix of both carrot and stick.

The stick is that gaining even a sliver of extra market share is so difficult that you have to not only keep your best customers but attract more of their business. The carrot, according to research from consultants McKinsey, is that multi-channel shoppers represent increasingly substantial proportions of what it calls the attractive buying population.

For instance, it has found that retail customers using multiple channels for purchasing spend two to four times more than those using one channel. In banks, they are 25% to 50% more profitable.

So when a multi-channel approach works, it is every marketer's dream.

Take the case of the shopping channel QVC, which had sales last year of $3.9 bn from its 24-hour cable channel and its web site.

QVC's 24 million customers are served by seven contact centres around the world with more than 6,500 staff who answered almost 113 million calls in 2001 from customers in the North America, the UK, Germany and Japan.

And, in January 2002 alone, it received 77,000 e-mails.

What QVC does is create a member profile from someone's first transaction onwards, collecting basic transaction and preference data, including the preferred channel, whether telephone, automated self-service or e-mail.

This is all combined into a single database to get a total view of each customer across the channels.

That's pretty a powerful scenario - but, it must be remembered, it's also an exceptional one. So why aren't more companies moving more quickly to adopt that model? There's one big problem. As the technology has become so complex that it can take the IT people up to two years to implement the systems, marketing professionals in many companies has lost control of the all-important customer data to their IT department.

And the custodian of the data is, by default, the custodian of the customer.

Which means that marketers have had little incentive to clean the data to the point where it becomes valuable customer knowledge.

This situation could be changing, however. There is a small but growing band of companies that are developing manageable, easy-to-use customer knowledge systems that they offer to run for companies on an outsourced basis. This starts to allow the companies' in-house marketers to regain ownership of customer data from monolithic centralised CRM systems.

The interesting twist in this approach is that marketers pay as they use the data based on the number of customers involved. This means that they can assimilate the costs into their budget. The systems also allow them to see the results of their programmes on customer behaviour quickly and accurately.

According to Clive Jackson of Global Beach, one of the main players in this field, marketers across sectors, from automotive to consumers goods, are all looking for better, and cheaper answers to questions of managing customers on a multi-channel basis.

His company is benefiting from the growing trend: it was in 33rd place in the Fast Track 100, the Sunday Times ranking of the this year's top 100 fastest-growing unquoted UK companies. So the coming year could see multi-channel marketing not only come of age, but marketers be freed to do what they should be doing: reclaim their position as the voice of the customer.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug
Thetrainline.com backs 'rubbish' mobile app with TV ad