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Using Data to Give Experiences and Engagement Context

By Oct 21, 2013

By Michael Miller

Despite all the complexities of omnichannel message creation and deployment, demand-side publishing, Big Data and technology the modern world of marketing is fundamentally simple: More emphasis needs to be focused on customers’ wants needs and desires.

To say this is an easy task, however, would be a gross understatement. There is often a disconnect between what consumers say and what they actually do. Therefore, we must bridge the dissonance between the two in order to fuel our marketing models.

As business leaders we are fortunate to live in a time of Big Data, or what I like to call “All Data.” All Data is the combination of digital data, such as the over 1 trillion indexed URLs by Google; physical data, such as the 6.7 billion mobile accounts available globally; and interaction data, including 127 daily application minutes logged by U.S. smartphone users.

From All Data we are able to ignite hyper personalized connections at scale to meet the demands of our complex customers. It’s up to us as marketers to create a powerful experience, one that is fundamentally useful in consumers’ lives, provides the information and messaging that they demand, inspires them to share and is culturally relevant.

But to be successful, brands need to use All Data to integrate consumers’ positive experiences and engagement with the brand, to close the gap and create a relevant context. One brand that is hitting this mark is TXU Energy, a leading retail electricity provider.

The state of Texas represents the largest electricity market in the United States. Over the last several years the majority of the market was deregulated, allowing for competition and spurring the entry of more than 60 competitive electricity retailers. TXU Energy, one of the two incumbent providers prior to deregulation, is the current market leader. They are also among the higher priced retailers.

As a premium cost provider of a commodity product in a now highly competitive marketplace, retaining current customers and attracting new ones presented an ongoing and difficult challenge.  Because they decided not to compete based on price, they needed to explore other relevant ways to differentiate the brand.

TXU Energy had to radically shift how they perceive and relate to their customers—from the traditional “utility” mindset of “buying power from us,” to a more customer-centric model, where the retailer empowers their customers with information and tools.  The company shifted perception and strengthened their relationship with customers with the launch of a new website, interactive online tools and a mobile site and app. Real-time energy information was now within the customer’s fingertips, delivering on an overarching strategy of customer empowerment and control.

TXU isn’t alone in their approach to engagement and experience. When it comes to leaving a lasting, emotional effect on a consumer, what could be more important or personal than your health and the wellbeing of those closest to you.

Walgreens embarked on a journey to create a loyalty platform designed to better engage consumers and encourage them to take better care of their health. The program is designed to leverage the company’s goal of helping its customers “Get, Stay and Live Well.”  Every element of the program—from how members earn points to what

they can spend them on—connects to that concept.  Within months of its launch, more than 72 million customers had enrolled in the Walgreens Balance Rewards program.

The program is highly relevant to their customer base, because it focuses on three core tenants: ease – customers want a program that is easy to join and use; value – customers want a program that enables them to save and earn meaningful rewards; and wellness – customers need access to information on how to get well, stay well, and live well.

The complexity is not in our tools or capabilities. The complexity in marketing is that our customers are ahead of us and many brands don’t know how to catch up.  If you build the right experience—transformative ideas —and you engage your customer through relevant and personalized channels—distributed by Big Data, or All Data and technology—your business and brand will gain exponentially in returns. At the very least you will meet the demand of your beloved customer.

Michael Miller is CMO of Epsilon Agency Services.