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Five barriers to delivering a truly customer-centric marketing strategy

By Mike Fantis, managing partner

March 12, 2020 | 5 min read

Over the past few months, DAC has been invited to provide expert insights at marketing events across Europe. It has helped to further sharpen our understanding of the individual needs of brands - as well as their challenges. Having consulted with hundreds of marketers, we've identified the key pain points in realising a truly data-led, customer-centric marketing strategy.

DAC remind marketeers of the importance of putting their consumers first.

DAC remind marketeers of the importance of putting their consumers first.

1. Brands still work in silos

We've conducted straw polls at every event, asking the simple question: "Are your marketing and brand strategies run in silos?" The response has come loud and clear, and can be best summarised as follows:

"Our business wants new customers, regardless of channels. However, the silos we operate in mean we sometimes compete for budgets and exposure. Each team/department is focused on their own targets and isn't sharing insights to win new customers or plan more effectively."

Some of the most significant conflicts between channels include offline media versus online, driving in-store traffic vs. ecommerce, and even CRM versus brand versus digital. Some organisations - even those with significant in-house data science teams - aren't able to cross-pollinate their own insights in their marketing. In an increasingly omnichannel world, this inability to comprehensively apply real-world learnings is a huge issue. By ensuring they work cohesively from the ground up, marketing teams can ensure they apply learnings to all aspects of their business and ensure they all work in a complementary fashion.

2. Local is still not a consideration in omnichannel

Each postcode location and audience segment has its own competitive landscape and decision-making triggers. In fact, local factors are a far better predictor of behaviour than traditional demographics. Brands are fighting for the attention of potential customers but are ignoring these vital signals, with a one-size-fits-all approach, which is still the norm for most brands.

Bear in mind that 50% of all online searches are done with local intent in mind, which is someone telling you they are interested in the most local physical manifestation of your brand. This is where a prospect is most likely to convert to being a customer. This critical factor is being all but ignored.

3. Brands are not aware of or listening to store reviews

A typical symptom of the siloed approach to marketing is crystallised with online reviews of physical shops. A common theme is that because reviews live online, they are the responsibility of the ecommerce team—but our analysis shows this content is rarely shared with the retail team. The result is that a customer's complaint is lost online in a way that never traditionally happened when people would air their grievances in person at a store. The retail team are then unable to act on these insights to improve the in-store experience.

4. The in-store experience disappoints

Far too often, the in-store experience for most national brands is the same no matter where you are. Locally unique factors and expectations are rarely taken into consideration, even though behaviour and interests vary so much across the UK. Similarly, millions are spent on national advertising yet the in-store experience rarely delivers on the promise made by the brand team.

One great example was someone we heard from who was so fed up waiting for assistance from a member of staff that they went online - while standing in the store - ordered from the website, and had the item delivered to their home instead.

In order to improve the in-store experience, national brands have to ask themselves:

  • How does each store deliver on the brand promise?
  • How have local factors been taken into consideration?
  • What are our customers actually getting from their in-store experience?

5. Unwillingness to engage data-savvy partners

A key factor impacting all of the above is that brands are slow to realise the value of their data due to an unwillingness to work with the right partners to uncover strategic insights. This is in some ways an understandable reaction to well-publicised data scandals. However, working with the right, trusted experts can be key to unlocking the value of data held by brands with multiple customer touch points. Attempting to build a transformative data-led strategy entirely in house is unlikely to yield the same benefits.

The solutions to many of these challenges are simpler than they first appear. By applying a ground-up, local-first approach, national brands can ensure they respond to their customers' needs effectively. But it is imperative they are prepared to break down the silos, pay heed to localised digital signals, and work with the right partners to deliver a truly customer-centric marketing strategy.

Mike Fantis, managing partner at DAC.


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