How marketers are putting customer insights at the heart of their CX strategy


Steve Warren, Chief Executive Officer, Mapp

Customer experience is overtaking price and product as a key brand differentiator. In other words, the marketing team’s competitive edge is based on the experience they deliver to their customers. But that’s easier said than done. Despite recent innovations in marketing tech, brands still experience obstacles when it comes to implementing effective customer experience strategies.

In ‘Use Analytics and Insights to Accelerate Your Customer Experience Strategy,’ a new study commissioned from Forrester Consulting on Mapp’s behalf, the results show a mixed picture of the industry as it engages with challenges and opportunities in an effort to improve the customer experience. 

The goal is to bring about faster growth and higher revenue. However, despite the clear benefits, companies face major hurdles when it comes to updating their customer experience strategy. Specifically, they cite the difficulty of linking business outcomes to real customer needs, insufficient technology platforms and a lack of vision and alignment among leaders, teams and employees. Finding adequate time and resources to implement a better customer experience is an ongoing challenge.

Lack of insights is the brand’s biggest challenge

Marketing decision-makers know how crucial customer analytics are in developing a CX strategy. Our research shows 88% agree that it is important to understand changing consumer needs to improve customer experience. However, many are not acting on this knowledge. Only a little more than half of the decision-makers are planning to implement customer analytics in 2021. 

Our research also uncovered that more than half of the marketers polled are unable to identify customers on their website, even though this is the first vital step in gaining insights to improve the customer experience.

For 54% of respondents, the lack of customer insights is by far the biggest challenge when it comes to enabling better brand experiences. Following Google’s announcement that they will no longer support third-party cookies, first-party data will play an even more important role moving forward. Companies need to focus even more heavily on accurate data collection and identifying the right insights.

Marketers are struggling to unlock the value of data

Finding a way to unlock value from an abundance of data is a major concern among marketers in our survey. Enlisting the help of a dedicated data team can help, although finding such a team can prove difficult. More than half of the marketers surveyed consider a lack of skilled talent as their primary challenge in delivering a better customer experience.

At the same time, however, only a quarter attribute their success in recent years to talent improvement. While hiring and developing qualified staff is significant, using the right tools for insight-driven marketing offers the greatest economic success. In our survey, 65% said they expect that new technology will lead to improved customer insights. Fundamentally, there needs to be a blend of strategy and technology to extract value from raw data.

Can technology change the game?

Investment in mar-tech stacks is well underway as companies seek to improve their customer understanding. The marketers we surveyed consider customer analytics, customer data management and marketing automation to be the top investments they made the past two years. 

Additionally, half have already achieved greater performance using customer insights. Companies that have implemented machine learning or artificial intelligence software also report improved ability to update their strategy, greater understanding of customer intent and better customer insights.

Machine learning and AI tools enable marketers to manage the customer journey in a data-driven way, where everything revolves around obtaining a holistic view of each individual contact across all channels. Through unified customer profiles, information such as transactions, socio-demographic profiles and interactions can be used for targeted personalization.

Customer insights are driving performance

Improved performance hinges on the ability to truly know customers. Marketers are striving to break away from decisions based on gut feeling and traditional campaign thinking. Marketing teams have a responsibility to understand who their customers are and instill a culture that leverages customer insights and represents customer interests. That’s the only way to meet expectations for the customer experience and deliver real value. 

Our study shows that improving the customer experience leads to significantly faster growth and more revenue — the move should, therefore, be a top priority for every marketer.

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