Does this sound familiar?

Your B2C brand has a big sale coming up to move excess women’s shoe inventory and make room for next season’s styles. You want to send out a compelling sale offer to drive traffic to your site and convince people to buy high heels.

Seems simple? Not quite. In order to do that, you need access to your customer data. You have to know who has purchased women’s shoes in the past year, along with anyone who has browsed those products on your site or liked shoe-related social media posts in the last 12 months.

You call your data analyst and explain exactly what you need. It’ll be a few days, she says. The CMO has asked for sales conversion metrics for the last six months, and that comes first. You eventually get the report back and it includes data on casual sneakers as well as heels. Not quite the customer segment you wanted, but you’re on a deadline, so what can you do?

What you can do — and what you need to do — is have access and ownership of all customer data yourself. Instead of having to turn to an analyst or data scientist, you need a single place where you can both analyze the data and execute campaigns based on that information. In today’s B2C market, getting your hands on customer data is not optional, but rather an integral part of B2C marketing today.

Ability to create personalized campaigns

The first immediate benefit to owning customer data is the ability to personalize all of your marketing campaigns far more easily. While Amazon is often held up as a shining example of B2C personalization, its formula of “customers who bought this also bought this” is really the most basic version of personalization. But with high-quality customer data, you can do even more to personalize your marketing. And personalization is incredibly effective. According to research firm McKinsey: “Targeted communications that are relevant and useful can create lasting customer loyalty and drive revenue growth of 10 to 30 percent.”

But to deliver true personalization, you need to have access to a single view of your customers with information pulled in from all your marketing platforms. This includes aspects such as when they bought a certain product, where they are located (snow boots may not be suitable for your Miami shoppers), demographic information, average order value, acquisition channel, preferred communication channels, and so on. When you have a better understanding of your customer’s preferences, you can form a thorough customer profile. With this data, you can start to automate actions based on customer likes or dislikes and drive serious conversion rates.

Be in the right place at the right time

Personalization is important, but so is the speed at which you can do it. Have you heard of micro-moments? These are the short moments you get each day to interact with a consumer who is being constantly bombarded with offers, content, emails, tweets, texts, and so on. You only get a small amount of time to reach them, and so you have to have the right data to hand at exactly the right time. This is why automation and triggered campaigns are so important to B2C success today.

You have to take advantage of these micro-moments by interacting with your customers on the right channel, at the right time, with the right message that will resonate with them personally. You can’t wait for a report to come back from your data analyst telling you what you need to know; you need to interact now or lose the sale. That’s why you not only need access to your customer data — you also need to have it in real-time. 

Better understand the customer journey

Predicting how a customer will react to your marketing messages is almost impossible to do, but you’ll have a better idea if you know what they did in the past through the entire customer journey. Using past data on your customers — from the micro-moments we mentioned above, for example — can help you predict what kind of content might resonate with specific customers as they get to know your brand. For example, with customer data, you may learn that Instagram is your most effective channel for acquiring new customers, while email is most effective in driving the second purchase.

With this data in hand, you can optimize the effectiveness of your marketing communications to buyers at specific stages in their lifecycle. Rather than guessing, you can drill down and create more tailored campaigns that will better resonate with buyers at that exact stage. Instead of sending a one-time buyer the same email message as a long-time loyal customer, you can tailor your marketing message and channel to the customer journey. All of this creates a seamless customer experience through relevant and targeted content.

Constantly boost your marketing ROI

Great marketers know that they are only as good as their ability to measure ROI. The data from every marketing campaign you execute today provides vital information for improving and optimizing future campaigns. But only you as a marketer will know exactly what insight you need to glean to take actions and improve that ROI.

That’s exactly why you need access directly to your customer data, so you can really dig into campaigns and see what’s working and what’s not. Marketers have to be able to attribute revenue accurately to specific campaigns, understanding exactly where your customers have come from and the true source of revenue. This equips you with the vital information to help you plan for future campaigns according to channel and be able to more accurately forecast their success. With this data, you can constantly drive up your ROI and get more from each and every marketing campaign.

You’re probably tired of hearing about the importance of customer data at this point, but that doesn’t change the facts. If you aren’t providing your customers with what they want, when they want, on the channel and format of their choosing, then you risk falling behind and losing sales. But when you have access to the wealth of information on your customers and can analyze it yourself, you can truly become a data-empowered marketer.

Karen McCandless

Karen McCandless is a content strategist, digital analyst, and researcher, specializing in business communications, and technology. Her work has appeared on The Next Web, Softonic, Business2Community, GetApp.com, Business.com, and Microsoft Europe.