Uncovering a telling truth about your target customer can spawn a powerful marketing campaign that strikes a chord. It’s called customer insight – tapping into the raw emotions that drive people to make a purchase or embrace a brand. But what’s the secret, and can any brand reap the rewards?

How M&S Drove Sales with a Powerful Customer Truth

The Challenge

In the run up to Christmas 2016, Marks & Spencer was looking to revive its UK womenswear sales following a decline for five Christmases in a row. In the midst of a relevance crisis, there was a feeling that the brand just didn’t ‘get’ its customers.

The Insight

Through attitudinal segmentation, the brand identified ‘Life Maximizers’ as the key audience for M&S’s Christmas marketing. Using various research methods to uncover a fresh, resonant and ownable insight, M&S landed on one simple truth: women are the makers of special Christmases.

M&S realized that the degree to which the specialness of Christmas is the responsibility of women had not been recognized – while plenty of brands had sympathized with women’s burden at Christmas, none had celebrated women as the makers of Christmas.

The Campaign

This insight inspired the Mrs Claus campaign, centred around a reimagined, modern and sassy Mrs Claus. It proved to be twice as relevant, memorable and persuasive as the average UK campaign and it drove the first growth in Christmas sales in M&S general merchandise for six years.

How to Hit the the Insights that Resonate

There are numerous ways brands can go about gathering the kind of good quality, highly relevant data that underpins a strong customer insight. Here are five ways to get it right.

1. Survey Data

Customer surveys enable brands to gather a large volume of highly relevant data that unveils the insights that resonate. Unlike web analytics, survey data allows you to paint a more accurate picture of the consumers you’re targeting – from their online behaviors to their brand and self-perceptions.

Using GlobalWebIndex – home of the world’s largest ongoing study on the online consumer – marketers have the ability to continually track consumer sentiment and behavior over time, ensuring their insights are always as relevant and timely as they need to be.

2. Audience Profiling

Audience profiling is the only way to gather the insights needed to define, segment, and profile today’s consumers. By drilling down into your target audience in this way, you can create customer profiles (or personas) that are true to life, then using the data to identify the touchpoints that matter most along the path to purchase.

This helps you bring these people to life, translating the thoughts, feelings and desires that make it easy to uncover an impactful insight.

3. Social Media Monitoring

By monitoring conversations about your sector, brand or product, marketers can pick up on common themes (positive and negative), and stay in tune with their audience. A valuable means of collecting raw consumer opinion, social listening can be taken to the next level by complementing it with in-depth consumer data – like that derived from surveys.

Start by profiling your audience to get your understanding up to speed, then monitor social media to stay clued into the conversation.

4. Website Analytics

Website analytics help marketers to gather and analyze behavioral data to identify patterns of behavior that reveal strong customer insight. Among the most valuable aspects of web analytics are acquisition (how people arrive at your site), audience (the demographics of your website visitors) and behavior (how much time they spend on which pages).

When combined with more robust panel data, discovering a fresh, resonant and ownable insight is easily achievable.

5. Watch and Learn

For brands that regularly interact with their consumers, it’s important to observe how your customers browse and interact with your products and staff, and what questions they regularly ask. What are their key concerns or areas of interest, and are there common questions or comments that arise? All of this information is critical in helping you better understand who your customer is, how they think and feel, and what role your brand can play in this dynamic.

Once you’ve gathered this data and analyzed it against your core business objectives, insights will start to emerge. These can be previously unacknowledged learnings about core customers and what makes them tick. Often, they’re simple truths – and one compelling insight can appear to form the basis of an inspired marketing campaign.

How Sky used Customer Insight to Inform its Sky+ Campaign

The Challenge

Sky was struggling to sell its Sky+ service beyond its existing customer base when it first launched.

The Insight

It held a series of customer sessions where different types of TV viewers met each other along with Sky executives. This saw Sky+ customers enthusiastically explaining the service to Freeview users, resulting in them wanting to sign up immediately. Sky+ realised that the answer lay in ‘tell not sell’.

The Campaign

The resulting campaign featured celebrities such as Michael Parkinson and Ross Kemp talking about the advantages of Sky+, a concept that helped the company produce its strongest fourth quarter net additions in five years, attracting 321,000 new customers.

The world is awash with data, but finding high quality, relevant information and being clear about what questions you want it to answer will help you to get to the insights that count. Brands who find these insights and develop a way to bring them alive creatively will make the connections that matter, translating into brand affinity, loyalty and, ultimately, profitability.

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