Why Brands Need to Stay Attuned to their Customers

Posted by Taylor Haney on Fri, Aug 2, 2013

After an awesome day yesterday at #MITXData we are kicking off our August guest blog theme (data and analytics) with a post from Jessica Carneiro, Senior Director of the Advanced Analytics Group at DataXu. Jessica explains why getting to know your customers (even when they are not on your website) is important. If you are interested in writing for our blog please e-mail me at taylor [at] mitx [dot] org.

jc headshotJessica Carneiro is an experienced digital marketing professional bringing over ten years of industry experience in marketing analytics working with advertisers, publishers and agencies.  As Senior Director of the Advanced Analytics Group, Jessica currently leads the development of DataXu’s analytics platform.  Prior to DataXu, Jessica was at Compete where she launched the company’s first ad effectiveness measurement tool.  She has also spent time on the publisher side working at Yahoo with their largest Financial Services advertisers.  Jessica has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Boston University.

According to a recent study from the CMO Council and SAS, some of the most important data brand marketers seek to add to their customer profiles is online customer information—a picture of what else customers are doing online when not on their brand’s site. But how often do you need to look at who your best customers are? Is this an exercise marketers should do just once, or a few times a year? The answer to this question depends on how often you think your customer profiles change.

However, research indicates marketers should monitor their customers continuously throughout the year because customer profiles change from week to week and from month to month, driven by economic changes and changes in marketing programs. With continuous monitoring of customer profiles, brands can adjust their marketing strategies in response to shifts in consumer behavior. To illustrate the benefits of continuous monitoring, consider three specific use cases for timely customer profile data, based on online customer profiles for multiple automotive websites.

  1. Use data to inform content targeting
    One of the most valuable data sets a brand marketer should use is a report on where customers are spending time online when they are not on a brand’s website. Looking at this data for auto shoppers, note that web browsing behavior for auto shoppers changed with macro-economic changes. From March to May, auto shoppers had a greater tendency to be on Real Estate and Career sites as U.S. home sales increased and the U.S. job market improved. Over these three months, the likelihood of auto shoppers visiting Real Estate and Career content increased by more than 30%.

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    Over the same period, these shoppers’ visits to Family and Parenting content declined by 27%. With insights gleaned from this data, auto manufacturers can shift marketing spend from Family and Parenting content to Career and Real Estate content in June.

  2. Use data to adjust creative and marketing messages
    Monitoring changes in customer profiles is also important to advertisers, who can adjust their creative and marketing messages to ensure they are addressing the right audience. The chart below shows that among online auto shoppers, there was a 17% increase in households with teenagers from March to May. If an advertiser’s current marketing campaign does not already speak to this audience, then auto manufacturers should tailor their creative and marketing messages to address this new audience.


  3. Use data to monitor product perception
    Demographic data such as age, gender and income are standard data points for customer profiles. But how often does this type of information change? Rather than run expensive, small focus groups or collecting data based on surveys, brands can use online site visitation data to stay on top of the type of prospects coming to their website. In the auto shopper example, the chart below shows a 15% increase in 35-44 year old consumers shopping for autos from March to May. If this is the target age group for the brand, the brand can continue with its existing marketing programs.  However, to reach a younger or older audience, the brand would need to make adjustments to address those age groups. 

    So what are the key takeaways for marketers? Based on the examples above, it’s clear marketers must stay attuned to the changing profiles of their customers to make smart decisions that will result in more effective marketing programs.