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The Ultimate Guide to the 360-Degree Customer View

What is a 360-Degree Customer View?

The perfect 360-degree customer view is something of a marketing Holy Grail, and for good reason. When you have a sincere understanding of who your customers are and what makes them tick, it becomes much easier to give them what they’re looking for. By harnessing insights through data collected at various points along a customer’s journey, marketers can glean a comprehensive, unique portrait of who their customers are. For businesses, this can mean ROI increases as high as 760%. So how do you actually achieve this 360-degree customer view? Sophisticated customer segmentation

What Does a 360-Degree Customer View Reveal?

Most companies—if they segment customers at all—only keep track of a few basic demographic details, as well as some surface-level purchasing history, such as whether or not they’re repeat customers. Deep customer segmentation paints a much more complete profile. Instead of only knowing a given customer is a 25-year old male who’s made two purchases in the past, you may instead also be able to instantly recognize complex buying patterns, track outside environmental factors that might influence their decisions, get a sense of what drives them emotionally, check what social media platforms they prefer, and predict their likelihood of making a purchase in the current moment. And that’s just the beginning. Customer segmentation backed with strong data—like the kind generated through using a customer data platform (CDP) can be as sophisticated as you make it, and can offer an unprecedented single customer view.

In your everyday life, how do you get to know someone? Perhaps you meet them at a party, or on an awkward first date, or through mutual friends. Regardless of the situation, you’re going to have a conversation. Through that conversation, you’ll learn facts about your new friend, like where they’re from, what they do for work, or what their interests are. In an ideal world, we’d all be able to take each of our customers out for coffee and chat them up about their hopes and dreams, and their likes and dislikes. Unfortunately, nobody has that many hours in the day, nor that much money to spend on lattes. The best we can do at scale is to try to collect as many facts as we can about our customers, develop in-depth profiles based on those facts, and then group customers based on those profiles. This is customer segmentation, and when it’s done in a thoughtful and robust way, it can be used to achieve a 360-degree customer view.

Customer segmentation is the practice of dividing a company’s customers (and/or prospective customers) into groups that share common characteristics, and a 360-degree customer view requires deep customer segmentation. By targeting specific groups, marketers can serve more relevant messages and spend marketing resources more efficiently. 

Take, for example, a coffee shop with a mobile app. The coffeeshop may segment early-morning drive-through customers as “before work” coffee drinkers, then send them mobile push notifications with “Happy Hour” special deals at the end of the work day, enticing them to swing through the drive-through again on the way home. The coffeeshop’s customer data platform may also indicate that the customer has been a regular lately, so they might invite them to join a rewards program.

Here are a few of the categories of data points a 360-degree view of a customer might show:

Basic Demographic Information

Demographic segmentation represents the most basic biographical facts about your customers. Demographics include factors like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Income
  • Education
  • Number of children
  • Marital status

The idea behind demographic segmentation is that people with common characteristics will have similar desires, interests and, ultimately, purchasing habits. Demographic segmentation really shines when used in conjunction with other forms of audience segmentation, but unfortunately 65% of companies don’t target their audience beyond these basic traits. 

Geographic Information

Geographic segmentation clusters audiences by their geographical location. Imagine that you’re building a marketing campaign for an outdoors company. It makes the most sense to advertise surfboards to customers who live on the coast, and snowboards to customers in ski towns. Fashion retailers frequently personalize their marketing based on local weather conditions. Pizza franchises may offer game day specials in college towns where football is popular. Purple Mattress once ran a “sleep cool” campaign for those in warm climates, while Denny’s served ads only to people who lived within driving distance of a Denny’s restaurant.

Insights About Customer Behavior and Habits:

Behavioral segmentation clusters audiences by their behaviors and habits. This includes factors like:

  • Which online platforms they prefer
  • What hours they’re usually online
  • How they usually make purchases
  • Purchasing occasions (e.g., anniversaries and birthdays)
  • Reason for purchasing decisions (e.g., more competitive price, best reviews, etc.)
  • Purchasing frequency

One of the most common marketing segmentation tactics falls under behavioral segmentation: breaking up your audience based on the state of their relationship with your brand. Typical segments may include prospective customers, new customers, one time customers, repeat customers, or lapsed customers. Of course, the more granular your segments, the more powerful your tactics become. You can time your social posts for the hours your audience is usually scrolling, for example, or invite repeat holiday shoppers to get an early start on their Christmas shopping. 

Psychographic Information

Psychographic segmentation dives deeper into the underlying beliefs and personalities of your customers, or the traits that drive their behaviors. Does your customer care about sustainability and environmental causes? Are they particularly health conscious? Are they workaholics? 

Social Media Activity and Preferences

Social media segmentation groups audiences by the social media platforms they use. This is pretty straightforward, but it’s also enormously powerful, especially in deciding what form marketing materials should take. For targeting Instagram users, for example, a survey from DepositPhotos found that 80% of Instagrammers preferred How-To videos over other forms of branded video content, and that mobile-shot stories outperformed studio videos 63% of the time

That same How-To video shot on a cell phone might be a total flop on Facebook, though! Eighty-five percent of Facebook users watch videos with the sound off, so you might serve that audience segment a video with text callouts as opposed to an audio track. 

Their Past Interactions With Your Brand

Have they made a purchase before, or are they first-time customers? Have they left reviews? Have they interacted with your company across any of its marketing channels? Have they spoken to customer service about something in the past?

Their Present Relationship With Your Brand

Who is the customer? Are they in the process of buying something? Do they have open support tickets or a purchase that’s being shipped? Are they currently receiving a service? Where are they in their customer journey right now?

What Are the Benefits of a 360-Degree Customer View?

Having ready access to the insights offered by a 360-degree customer view can be transformative, and you’ll never go wrong investing in better customer relationships. Of course, any initiative needs to be aligned with concrete business outcomes, and a 360-degree customer view offers several tremendous benefits:

1. Increased Sales

By understanding the customer’s drives as well as their previous behaviors, then coupling that with intelligence about where they are in their customer lifecycle, marketers can identify opportunities to upsell or cross-sell. We can also predict the customer’s pain points and address hesitations they may have in order to move them from the “consideration” stage to the “taking action” stage of the purchasing process.

2. Reduced Costs

A 360-degree customer view allows marketers to expend resources much more efficiently. This means less wasted time, better results in fewer work hours, and a better bang for your buck in ad spending. 

3. Stronger Customer Relationships

When you have a deep understanding of your customer, you can tailor your communications to them in more personal and relevant ways. A 360-degree customer view offers unprecedented insight into where a customer is within their customer lifecycle. You’ll have a solid understanding of their sentiment towards your brand, what next steps are likely to improve their customer loyalty, and how you can keep them engaged and happy moving forward.

4. Better Predictive Analysis

More advanced data always translates to better predictive analysis, allowing you to better anticipate your customers’ needs. With a 360-degree customer view, you’ll be able to build better models of customer behavior through their purchasing patterns and interactions with your company—that includes with your sales team, customer service, and your various marketing channels. 

The Challenges to Building a 360-Degree View of Customer Data

Problems with customer data are rampant among companies of all sizes. When evaluating marketing departments’ records, for example, the Harvard Business Review found that only 3% of the departments studied met acceptable standards. Nearly half of newly-created data records had at least one critical error. A 360-degree view of customer data requires data that is consistent across your company, that is high quality and error-free, and that all of your employees can access instantly to integrate seamlessly. Thankfully, the right CDP can now mitigate these challenges, but there are a few primary challenges companies face when they start trying to build the perfect 360-degree customer view:

1. Getting the Full Picture

Data tends to get messy over time, and most organizations end up with many separate data silos. Sales might collect customer data inside a CRM, while accounting might use an ERP, and customer service logs interactions in a CSP. On top of this, you may find that much of the data across these silos is conflicting, redundant, outdated, or simply inaccurate. A comprehensive picture requires unification across all available sources.

2. Data Precision

MIT’s Sloan Management Review estimates that most companies lose 15-20% of their revenue through bad data. Gartner estimates that poor data costs organizations an average of $12.9 million a year. Erroneous data is a plague on businesses, and a true 360-degree view of customer data requires accurate data.

3. Real-Time Customer Data

Even if data enters your “data ecosystem” accurately, it can become obsolete quickly. According to Forbes, up to 18% of customer phone numbers change every year, for example. Even if your company is doing everything right in terms of its data collection and management, the quality of your data will degrade over time. As such, your data platform needs to give your team members access to the most real-time, updated customer data available at all times. 

4. Scalability of the Data

Having deep and accurate data on your customers is worthless if you can’t actually make it easily accessible and usable to everyone who needs it. Nor is it useful if you can’t leverage it at scale across your entire customer base. Your data platform needs to empower your team members to pull clean, real-time data at any given moment to use in their initiatives, no matter what their role within your organization is. 

In light of the challenges posed by streamlining data, many companies abandon the quest for a 360-degree view of customer data before they even begin. Have no fear, however: taking control of your customer data management can become an integrated part of building your 360-degree customer view with the right tools, like Simon Data’s platform.

Why Industry Leaders Choose Simon Data to Achieve a 360-Degree Customer View

A customer data platform (CDP) is the most effective method for achieving a 360-degree customer view. A CDP is a marketing and customer experience platform that unifies a company’s customer data across all available sources. The primary purpose of a customer data platform is to allow marketers to pull and use data dynamically on the fly when crafting marketing campaigns. 

The importance of a 360-degree customer view boils down to two words: personalization and relevance. The better we know our audience, the more we can tailor our communications to them. We can focus those valuable marketing resources on putting the right content in front of the right people at the right time, as the old marketing adage goes. The numbers speak for themselves:

Companies like Tripadvisor, ASOS, and BarkBox are already using Simon Data to get a 360-degree customer view. Here are a few of the reasons why: 

  • A 360-degree customer view allows for the perfect cross-channel strategy. When you understand your customer’s habits and preferences, you can craft multi-prong communication campaigns. Let’s say a repeat customer views a new pair of hiking shoes on your website but never pulls the trigger. Perhaps they’re also segmented among customers who respond well to SMS messages and customers who usually shop the most during the summer. In that case, you’d do well if your Simon CDP automatically texted them a coupon for your Memorial Day sale, informing them that those hiking shoes are now 15% off. 
  • Customer segmentation builds long-term loyalty. We’re outspoken advocates of lifecycle marketing, and Simon Data can turn new customers into lifelong brand advocates. When customers feel understood, and when their values align with your messaging, you’re off to the races. When they interact with your brand across multiple cross-channel touch points over a long span of time, deep relationships form, and one-time customers become lifelong loyalists who spread the word about your brand and introduce it to others. 

Better customer segmentation = better customer experiences. With strong customer segmentation, it’s much easier to keep customers happy. Ninety-three percent of US consumers receive irrelevant communications from brands, and 90% find those messages annoying. By comparison, 60% of consumers are likely to become repeat customers if they receive a personalized experience.

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