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Do you really want to engage with your customers?

Have you ever thought, “What would my customer think if she knew the label we’d given her”?

I may address her breezily as “Hi Penny” and use knowledge of her past purchasing behaviour to categorise her (using my business rules) as lapsed with a history of buying “x” product at “y” frequency with a projected life time value of “z”.

I may even have some good data on Penny’s response to email communication and web journeys. A lot of information, but very little real awareness of what makes Penny tick and, why, despite all our knowledge, she’s moved away from buying our products.

Penny is now clearly labelled as a lapsed female, 30 – 40 years of age, a “y” frequency purchaser with a preference for shoes, cosmetics and handbags. All neatly categorised and coded with an appropriate business rule in our customer database ready to trigger a personalised and relevant message.

Penny isn’t who you think she is
Penny would be horrified because she thinks of herself as a youthful, successful, intelligent, discerning, professional lady. A woman who is calling the shots, making her own decisions about when and where to shop – on her terms, at a time of her choosing.

She thinks of us as just one of a wide variety of places she visits from time to time as she flits with very little loyalty, to us or anyone else, from shop to shop. She doesn’t keep a record of what and where she buys – let’s face it she doesn’t care.

Penny shops online using a combination of mobile, iPad, laptop and PC. She also enjoys shopping on the high street especially when meeting up with friends.

Poor lapsed Penny is going to receive a reactivation (or winback) email, a robotic term we all tend to use now, perhaps with an offer appropriate to her buying history as part of a sequence of marketing messages aimed at getting her back where she should be – shopping with us.

Penny is a real person not a bunch of stats
What if Penny’s response is purely emotional – she’d had one bad experience of your brand, or delivery was slightly off, or the product just doesn’t seem to be as good as it once was.

Penny now feels she needs a change and, let’s face it, she has many alternatives already available. The problem we have is that past behaviour isn’t always a very good predictor of future activity, or current individual customer problems we need to solve. Penny isn’t helping either because she won’t tell us where we’re getting it wrong (we may be doing nothing wrong).

Using customer insight works for very loyal customers who are already in love with your brand – but let’s be honest most of your database doesn’t fall into this category – most people you email aren’t loyal and never will be (to the extent that you want them to be) – most are like Penny flitting in and out of your life – so how do we deal with this in a cost-effective, timely way?

What are we going to do about Penny!
Using incredibly powerful analytical tools we can predict her future needs, offering Penny personalised goods and services we know she likes. However, all the data in the world won’t help us if we haven’t managed to connect with Penny at a very basic emotional and sociological level.

Doing this requires the combination of insight into Penny’s habits and behaviours linked to creative brand treatments that also match her expectations, meet her desires and marry with her personality.

Touching Penny’s heart as well as her head.