Today’s consumer is certainly aware of the fact that a strong brand reputation does not happen overnight. Some of the most iconic brands are decades in the making—Disney, Lego, Rolex and Nike, to name a few. And for better or worse, a consumer can do serious damage to a brand from their mobile phone in a matter of seconds. Beyond just calling in to a customer contact center, posting disparaging comments over web, social or other digital channels can cause a red alert.
In today’s highly competitive market, it is becoming increasingly important yet difficult for brands to keep their brand value and grow their image. The cultivation of brand equity, which certainly impacts the customer experience, is what differentiates brands and promotes business growth. But it requires a lot of time and investment.
How can your marketing department measure and monitor brand health in order to build brand equity and customer loyalty over time?
In my experience, a strong brand monitoring and measurement framework rests on a foundation of sound data management, analysis, marketing process orchestration and measurement techniques.
Brand data as the bedrock. Data about your brand is the most valuable asset when it comes to building brand equity over time. But which types of data? Well, in my opinion, it’s best to collect as much as you can possibly handle. And sure, not all data is the same—some types are more valuable than others. For example, data about how an individual consumer navigates your brand’s website is certainly more valuable than data on which customers were sent the last mega-outbound mailer.
Managing all the data you collect, then, poses a challenge in and of itself. Keep as much of the data as you can in a single repository, making it easy to integrate, cleanse and edit as needed. And remember that if you don’t care for your data, it won’t care for you. We have all heard the term “garbage in, garbage out” when it comes to data, and particularly in using that data for marketing purposes. Doing the hard work around data collection, ETL, and creating sound data quality and integration processes on the front end pays off tenfold on the back end. With a complete view of a customer and how they engage with your brand across all channels, developing strategies and programs based on that data will be much easier and more effective.
Analytics drive action. So now that you have all this data at your fingertips, what do you do with it? I think that the single best way to measure and monitor brand health is through analytics. Analytics allows those keeping watch of the brand to derive insight from data in order to take action. Whether it’s a brand value calculation exercise, a C-level executive asking for a report on the value of marketing programs—commonly called marketing accountability—or a modeling and attribution exercise, analytics provides insight into which initiatives build and detract from overall brand value. For example, analytics can combine brand health scores, sentiment and customer lifetime value scores to help brand marketers determine the optimal actions for establishing strong brand equity and health. And analytics doesn’t just include marketing data; purchasing, financial and service data can all be integrated to get a complete view of the brand and its health across departments.
Orchestrate marketing process magic. If you’re a brand marketer and you see things trending negatively, what can you do? For many brands, it’s just a “wait and see” approach. However, it doesn’t have to be this way—taking action, whether in the marketing department or within other departments such as sales, service or support, can strengthen brand health.
Using analytical techniques, brand advocates can start to move things in the right direction. How? Analytical segmentation can help you understand which segments are trending negatively, and you can create a marketing activity to reach those customers. Prior to executing this marketing activity, analytical optimization can ensure the right segments are receiving the right activities or campaigns at the right time, while working within brand constraints. Decision management techniques can ensure that when that customer does engage with your brand over the web, kiosk, ATM or contact center channels, you can respond with the right message, offer or action to build loyalty and start to re-strengthen your brand. Customers appreciate the individualization of offers. Having that feeling that this brand “gets me” and knows my preferences, needs, and how to interact with me builds loyalty and creates a strong positive perception of a brand.
Measure to close the loop. Finally, I am strong believer in the value of measuring results in order to continually improve on efforts. Whether its sports, learning a new skill or hobby, or a professional endeavor, tracking progress is important in order to know where to adapt to improve. If you are going to market and advertise in order to change or improve the perception of your brand, doesn’t it make sense to track what’s happening at a detailed level?
In order to measure movement and results of marketing, marketers must collect both contact and response history when engaging with end consumers. When I contacted a customer with an offer, how did they respond? Did they open the email, click through to the website and view the offer? Or did they just delete the offer straight away? Knowing this information helps inform marketers as to what is working and what isn’t.
Additionally, traditional campaign performance reporting metrics like lift, ROI and conversion are all valuable, as they are all indicators of positive movement. I would add that metrics like sentiment scoring, propensity scoring, customer lifetime value score and net promoter score can be used, too, to understand what customer segments are the most critical to brand health.
Sentiment scoring gives a brand insight into what customers are saying at a text level and applies a score to that commentary. This can help brand marketers understand exactly what issues a brand may be having, whether it’s image quality for a cable provider, store layout for a retailer or customer service wait times via digital channels for a financial services company. Knowing this allows the brand to correct potential issues and thus improve brand perception.
Propensity scores relating to which segments and customers may attrite is valuable from a retention perspective. And retaining strong and loyal customers will build brand value. Reports can also include customer lifetime value scores and net promoter scores to help brands understand which individual customers are most valuable. Encouraging those strongest and most loyal customers to be brand proponents only makes sense.
Keeping a brand strong and viable is more difficult than it ever has been due to our digitally empowered society. With the consumer ability to disparage a brand so rapidly, brands have to go beyond manual processes in order to be successful. Automating data management, analytical and marketing orchestration processes, and then reporting on the success or failure of the initiatives within those processes, is critical to creating and maintaining a strong brand.