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Creating a Data-Driven Competitive Advantage

Being able to provide relevant, appropriate and personalised journeys to customers is the key to creating connected experiences of the future that effectively build and retain customer bases.  People increasingly know what they want and how they want it, and we may only have a limited chance to meet their needs before they move on. To do this, informed data-driven decisions need to flow throughout all business activities; and marketing is no exception.

Positioning data-driven decisioning as the beating heart of marketing and advertising operations is now a key part of most businesses’ digital maturity and growth strategies. Data-enabled technology is reaching a level of sophistication where we can use it to understand customer interactions and predict customer intent across our digital ecosystems – even at such a granular level as to attribute value to individual points of interaction. Solutions now also exist that can marry up the online and offline interactions of customers to a degree. All in, we can build an increasingly accurate picture of our complete customer experience and use it to optimise our entire customer journeys. We can also develop how we communicate with all of our different types of customers to drive performance, through building interaction matrices and enhanced audience strategies.

With our well-versed Maturity Frameworks, Merkle are already working hard to develop, drive and enact digital and data maturity strategies for our clients and partners. Each business we work with, be it local or global, is on its own development journey. Each requires a slightly different approach that suites the operational nuances of their specific industries and organisational structures. The data required by each will also be subtly different depending on objectives and goals. Through building teams of subject matter experts over many years that can operationalise data and insight for a wide variety of topics, we are able to support businesses going through digital and data transformations whether they choose to outsource activity or build highly capable in-house units.

One key facet of the transformation process that must always be addressed is ensuring the marketing and advertising technology stacks and strategies are future-proofed. By this, we actually mean looking at how the stacks will continue to be effective long into the future, even when everyone else has levelled the playing field. When all businesses have a heart built on data-driven action (i.e. a level playing field) the differentiator will be the ability to quickly respond to market changes and deploy actions to take advantage of opportunities faster and at a greater scale than competitors – which also means beating your competitors to the punch with more relevant and better timed marketing messages to customers earlier in their consideration phases.

We need to ensure that we build a level of flexibility and agility into any transformation to ensure our clients and partners continue to maintain a competitive advantage when everyone around them is working with the same tools and has access to the same quality of data. Adding to this, consistent tools that have been integrated effectively throughout a business allow the breaking down of growth-inhibiting operational silos that may prevent a flow of data, insight and knowledge. Of course, silos can also be communication-based, so it is vital that these strategies are supported by a collaborative approach to knowledge and information sharing across all stakeholders and data owners (imagine what Rome and Greece might have achieved if one had used the collective knowledge of the other, rather than burning it down!). Flowing knowledge and insight throughout a business and then operationalising with local expertise will be key to ensuring businesses and brands stay relevant with their customers in the future, both at scale and on a more personal level.

If you are considering your own digital or data transformation or reviewing your strategy to ensure it is future-proofed, we would love for you to get in touch to see how Merkle can support you in achieving your long-term data-driven competitive advantage.