Marketers often collect and analyze customer information that is easy to access and synthesize, but omit or gloss over the deeper and more valuable analytics that can foster a powerful competitive advantage for their corporations.
That’s the finding of UConn Marketing Professor Debanjan Mitra and colleagues from the University of Houston, Columbia University and Emory University. Their research is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing.
“We discovered how firms can make use of data from multiple sources to acquire, retain, and develop their customer base and, consequently, strengthen and grow their businesses,” he said. “We completed our research just as the pandemic began. Especially now, during such a precarious time in business, when customer behaviors are evolving, these findings are particularly relevant.”
Their research paper, titled “Capturing Marketing Information to Fuel Growth,” reviews factors that contribute to the disconnect between the data that companies capture and productive use of that information. In particular, the researchers found that companies tend to gravitate to readily accessible statistics, and ignore rich textual data that captures impressions and emotions. These findings play a significant role in a product’s success and eventually on the firm’s growth.
“You don’t want to wait for a business to suffer losses before you start capturing information and connect it with customer value,” Mitra said. “The more quickly you do so, the sooner your customer strategy can be implemented and your company will reap the rewards. Data should be viewed as a harbinger of things to come, rather than analysis after the fact.”
In quickly changing times, such as a pandemic, past information is less relevant than what companies are experiencing in present day, he said.
Despite enterprise leaders’ and researchers’ optimism in the potential that data offers, there is a disconnect between the volume created and the ability of organizations to capture that potential to foster growth. This is particularly true in supporting customer relationships – creating new customers, retaining, and developing them, Mitra said.
“In many cases, companies are ‘steeped’ in their ways. They’ve typically done things a certain way and continue doing it without question. They’ve culled the same data over the years and plan to continue it, without seeing the need to change,” Mitra said. “We have technology that can capture many different types of information beyond numbers. It needs to be culled on a continuous basis through sophisticated platforms capable of real-time outputs.”
His advice to company marketing executives is to collect ongoing and different data and categorize it in terms of acquiring, retaining, and developing customers. That data can then be harnessed to devise the firm’s customer strategy quickly and efficiently, making it possible for the corporation to respond to any changes in the context, be it competition or the overall environment as in the case of the pandemic.