Perspectives from a Former Retailer: How a Customer Data Platform Changes the Game

August 07, 2019

One of the reasons I enjoy working as a Customer Success Manager at AgilOne is that I can help marketers solve the very problems that used to confront me back when I was a retailer. Before coming to AgilOne, I worked in Europe and Latin America at both a big-box retailer and at a large online-only company. These companies struggled with how to better engage their customers while increasing margin. They were capturing a ton of customer data but it all sat in IT databases, and in my role on the marketing team, it was very difficult to access the data, much less gain insights from it. The only way to analyze the customer data that we captured was by using Excel and creating numerous pivot tables that would always make my computer crash because they couldn’t handle the volume of data. The times that reporting did work, it would provide insufficient information and have minimal insights on customers. It was nearly impossible to leverage these small insights to drive greater profit. If only I had used a customer data platform in those days! Thankfully, in my role at AgilOne, retailers I work with have the tremendous advantage of using a customer data platform (CDP). And with a CDP, they can gain important insights. Here are the use cases with the quickest wins I’ve seen work with omni-channel retailers who are using AgilOne's CDP.

Quick Win #1: Optimized Category Migration with a CDP

Category Migration in Seconds

 

When I worked at the online only Amazon-like company, we used to spend a lot of time and money on marketing campaigns. One of the techniques we would use to drive sales and customer acquisition was to sell low priced items on Facebook. The margin after Facebook marketing costs would be negative and weigh down the overall profitability of the division. When I asked why we even advertise these low-priced products the answer I received was, “We thought that this would influence customers to come back and buy bigger items from our website and overall would lead us to have a higher return on investment.” While this might have been a good idea in theory, there was no data to back up this statement because there was no analysis being done on new vs. repeat customers. So, did this spend in fact bring new customers back a second or third time? Because this retailer wasn't using a CDP, it was difficult to dig into the data to get the answer. But when I ran my own reports with the minimum data that we did have, the results that I found were disappointing. The customers that did buy smaller items mostly never came back, and when they did they were buying other cheap items from us. Because of this insight, the Tech and Home division that I managed changed its strategy of how the products were being marketed.

Now, each time I onboard a new client into the AgilOne platform we build a category migration report together. This report shows which category the customer buys the first time, and which category they are most likely to purchase in their following visits. It is so much easier to do this with a CDP than without one. When you think about a first time buyer’s customer journey, you want to do anything to make that buyer a repeat customer, so as marketers we have to focus on what other products to serve to make first time buyers want to come back. Typically when you look at the data, we can see that second time buyers buy within the same category. But then you can run analysis to see what customers who come in from one category are likely to buy next outside that category. A CDP reveals what other categories each first time buyer might be likely to purchase, so rather than only promoting products within the same category to new purchasers, a CDP opens up additional possibilities. For example, one high fashion retailer that had done this analysis realized that one particular accessory category was the best cross selling opportunity to all customers across category of acquisition.

Quick Win #2: Analyzing Customer Loyalty with a CDP

Crossing Repeat Purchase Behaviour and Digital Channel of Acquisition

 

Digital advertising platforms do a great job at showing performance down to a granular level (including attributing performance to a keyword or campaign) but ad platforms capture only the online transactions that follow the interaction and do not easily keep track of loyal behavior across a long period of time. Hence, relying only on those tools may lead to missing a key element for a healthy business: Are we acquiring long-term or one-time customers? When you’re optimizing your ad spend, you tend to stick to what you see (e.g., Google, Facebook, Criteo track success at the campaign level). One of the advantages of having a CDP is that it is really easy to track customers and see how often they come back over time -- the true metric that marketers care about, because this gives real insight into where marketers should allocate their budget. For example, customers acquired through Google shopping typically have a higher average order value than customers acquired through Facebook. You would think the solution is to invest more money into Google Ads, but if you look at who actually comes back, and find that 50% of Facebook shoppers comes back vs. 20% of Google shoppers, you may want to re-think that solution. This is the kind of analysis that takes seconds to create within AgilOne’s CDP, and we can filter it down to a specific keyword. AgilOne’s CDP is also capable of feeding offline transaction data to different digital platforms which enables marketers to understand who converted both online and offline.

Conclusion 

As a Customer Success Manager these are the key points that I like to cover when speaking with new clients to get a better understanding on how a CDP is going to be valuable for their business. To learn more about how AgilOne can help your business, register for our upcoming 30-minute webinar here!