Brands Don't Know Their Customers As Well As They Think They Do

Chris CrumBusiness

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IBM and Econsultancy have some new research out suggesting a "massive perception gap" between how well brands think they are marketing to their customers and how well customers actually think brands know them. Businesses think they're doing a pretty good job. Consumers, not so much.

Do you think you know your customers well or do you need some improvement in that area? Share your thoughts.

The study, which surveyed businesses and customers specifically in the United States, found that about 90% of marketers do agree that personalization of marketing campaigns is critical to their success. Even still, 80% of consumers polled don't think the average brand understands them as individuals. This is despite consumers sharing more personal details with businesses than ever before. Some how, brands are still failing to make the most of it.

It probably comes back to the smart data versus big data concept.

“2015 is about smart data," James Whatley, the social media director at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, London, recently wrote a blog post. "With Facebook killing its organic reach, the free ride is over – and you’ll have to start remembering to commit media money to hit your social targets. This is not news. The thing that continuously blows minds is just how niche you can get with that detail. In the autumn of 2014, one enterprising data monkey even managed to get his targeting so perfect that he set about specifically serving ads to his roommate as part of an elaborate prank. That’s mind-blowing.”

“In 2015, it would be great if the creative industries could get familiar with the smart data available to them,” he added.

The IBM/Econsultancy research found that 80% of marketers "strongly" believe they have a holistic view of individual customers and segments across interactions and channels. They also strongly believe in their ability to deliver "superior experiences" offline (75%), online (69%), and on mobile devices (57%). Yet just 47% of marketers say they're able to deliver relevant communications.

Worse yet, customers don't think they're getting personalized experiences. Only 37% said their preferred retailer understands them as an individual. And that's the preferred one. Only 22% said the average retailer understands them. 21% said communications from their average retailer are "usually relevant". 35% said communications from their preferred retailers are "usually relevant".

According to IBM, this all may contribute to why shoppers leave a brand's website without completing their purchase. Shopping cart abandonment is, after all, only growing as an issue for businesses.

"One explanation for relevancy void may be a lack of innovation for the multi-channel lives we all lead," IBM said. "According to the study, only 34 percent of marketers said they do a good job of linking their online and offline customer experiences. With the vast majority of dollars spent offline and the majority of product research happening on the Internet, the two are already linked for consumers but this gulf must close for marketers if they are to advance. One issue is the technology of integration, with only 37 percent of marketers saying they have the tools to deliver exceptional customer experiences."

It's all effecting customer loyalty as well. The survey asked consumers about changing providers in several areas "known to be inherently sticky," only to find that 49% claimed to have changed providers in the last year with experience-related factors playing a prominent role.

30% said they switched because of failure on the part of the provider, and 51% specifically cited customer experience as the top factor.

"The customer is in control but this is not the threat many marketers perceive it to be. It's an opportunity to engage and serve the customer's needs like never before," said Deepak Advani, GM at IBM Commerce. "By increasing investments in marketing innovations, teams can examine consumers at unimaginable depths including specific behavior patterns from one channel to the next. With this level of insight brands can become of customer's trusted partner rather than an unwanted intrusion."

Getting better at customer service would probably help a great deal too. As we explored in another article, businesses are having a tough time getting it right online.

Are you getting personalization right or is this a struggle? Let us know in the comments.

Via Digiday

Image via PR Newswire

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.