Successful customer-centric marketing: 4 priorities for 2018

21 Feb 2018  |  by Martin Clark

Fully utilise the digitalisation of customer relationships by keeping these four topics close to heart.

We’re out of the starting blocks for 2018 and, in all probability, already caught up in the day-to-day challenges of operational marketing. However, before we lose sight of our strategic goals for the year, let’s remind ourselves of four topics that should be high on our priority list if we’re going to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digitalisation of our customer relationships.


1. Personalisation

Personalisation lies at the heart of an effective customer experience. As consumer data moves out of the shadows, customers expect the data they’ve shared with you to be used to personalise their interactions with your brand. Why else would they agree for their data to be collected and used? 

According to the Apteco Data Trend Report 2018 (due to be published shortly), over 50% of marketers still use minimal personalisation – such as salutation and name – or standard non-dynamic email templates for their customer communications. 

A minority of companies have succeeded in personalising content blocks within templates. A few have even achieved hyper-personalisation, where literally every piece of content is adapted to the intended recipient. But this level of personalisation can obviously only be achieved if a high-quality, 360 degree customer view is available and it’s data protection compliant. 

Predictive analytics increasingly plays a role in personalisation as well. For example, Next Best Offer algorithms drive recommendations for your next holiday destination or fashion accessory. 

Artificial Intelligence is also beginning to move from hype to reality, such as the availability of fully automated A/B testing using champion/challenger principles based on robust statistical rule-sets.

Customer Journey

2. Customer journey

Marketers have recognised that the old principle of AIDA no longer holds. Or rather, the communication process doesn’t end with Action. 

In fact, Action is the beginning of the process of building long-term loyalty – and ideally brand advocacy. That’s where the customer journey takes central stage.   

There are two aspects of the journey that require the marketer’s attention:

  • Firstly, to understand the customer interactions across multiple touch-points and channels, such as the multiple website visits before a test-drive is booked. 
  • Secondly, to understand how customers flow through your marketing segments over time, such as the journey from a prospect to a first-time purchase to a multi-buyer to a VIP buyer and so on.   

Both of these require customer data to be structured and made available for analysis in an efficient and data protection compliant manner. Only by effectively managing customer journeys can progress be made towards a full understanding of complex channel attribution models and a holistic view of customer life cycle marketing. 


3. Automation

Whereas marketing automation used to be a nice-to-have, it’s become a must-have for any successful brand.  

Gone are the days when linear campaigns can be planned six months in advance. Customer journeys are now more likely to be event-triggered with a combination of push and pull channels in play. Time-based, internal or external event triggers can start a campaign at any moment, with communications increasingly being played out in realtime. 

For example, an online basket cancellation on your website could be the trigger for a multi-step campaign to remind a customer to complete the order. The complexity of managing customer interactions across multiple channels based on event-triggers can only be mastered with the aid of analysis and automation tools. 

One of the benefits is that marketers can free themselves up from manual and time-consuming tasks associated with managing non-integrated marketing processes, and instead focus on the optimisation of the marketing itself.



Marketers are finding themselves in the middle of a triangle of unstoppable forces:

  1. Customer experience expectations are rising fast as consumers get used to (and expect) interactions with brands to work across all channels, anytime and anywhere.
  2. Customer data volumes, as the variety of data and realtime needs increase at unprecedented levels.
  3. The new data protection regulation that comes into force in May 2018 demands a new, higher level of privacy compliance, with the threat of hefty fines for breach.

Whilst the challenge marketers face may seem daunting, they should look at it as a chance to achieve the benefits that data-driven and customer-centric marketing offers:

  • High levels of customer loyalty driven by customer advocates
  • A long-term sustainable growth path

Building privacy by design/default into your marketing processes will actually make it easier to implement omni-channel marketing. But this can only be achieved once your data and processes are built on a solid data foundation.  

Look out for our forthcoming whitepaper on what data protection by design and default actually means for your data analysis and campaign management processes. 

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Martin Clark

Managing Director Apteco GmbH

With more than 20 years of experience in the data, technology and marketing environment, Martin Clark is an expert in data-driven marketing. As managing director of Apteco GmbH, he is responsible for the expansion of Apteco in the DACH-area. Under the motto "Insight into Action", Apteco helps companies to strengthen their customer loyalty with analytical insights, to inspire customers through personalisation and to convert them into loyal fans along the customer journey.

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