Existing customers – why they don’t shop like prospects

It may not come as a complete surprise to be told that your existing customers behave differently from prospects – i.e. people who have never purchased from you before. In fact, the differences are very pronounced, especially when you look at customer journey patterns.

At UniFida we provide technology to help clients capture these customer journeys and then we use AI to analyse them. This enables the true value of different marketing investments to be understood and highlights the journey interactions that are most likely to be successful.

In our study of actual customer journeys, some of the findings are surprising. Possibly the biggest is that existing customers take longer journeys to the point of purchase than prospects. In fact, we found that not only are the journeys longer when measured in days from initial activity to final sale, but so too are the number of sales steps (events) in the journey.

Customer Journeys – New vs. Existing Example

customer type sales info

You can see from our analysis that existing customers take on average 29 days, whereas new customers take three days.

As the chart below shows, many prospects buy within just one or two sales events.

customer journeys graph

Another key finding is that different channels work better for prospects than for existing customers. Search engines and TV can, for instance, be key for prospects, whereas direct channels like email and catalogues work better for customers.

Sales value by media chart

To some extent this is because catalogue and email are “channels of choice” for customer marketing, and hence drive more sales, but also pay per click (PPC) is used more often by prospects.

Different strategies

Given these facts, it’s clear that very different contact strategies are needed for the two different groups. As existing customers seem to prefer the long haul, the challenge is to keep them sufficiently interested during their journeys. This is where emails and texts come in, particularly when the customer has visited your website and not purchased, and also when you want to discourage them from using PPC by offering click-throughs from an email.

By contrast, prospects are more likely to swoop down on a purchase. They may have started their journey as unrecognised browsers, but when they come back to your website conversion techniques, such as website personalisation, become more important. When prospects are on your website there is no time to be wasted.

Example customer journeys

Below are some customer journey examples that illustrate these points. The top two journeys are for existing customers and show the interplay between different channels after a catalogue has been sent to them. We have chosen two particularly long journeys to allow more steps to take place before the purchase.

In the first journey, social media helped close the sale, whilst in the second it was email. Both existing customers used search even though they must have known the name of the company they were looking for, although they may have been looking for alternative suppliers at the same time.

Example: Existing Customer Journey 1

customer graph

Example: Existing Customer Journey 2

customer graph

The next two journeys for prospects (new customers) are much shorter. The top one started with the prospect searching and the sale being closed with an email, so he/she must have provided their email address on the website when visiting. In the second case there were two click-throughs from social media followed by a direct entry a day later.

Example: New Customer Journey 1

Customer type and channel graph

Example: New Customer Journey 2

Customer type and channel graph

What these charts reveal is just some of the complexity, often ignored, surrounding customer journeys and the importance of recording them so that they can be analysed.

By understanding which pathways lead to sales and which don’t, marketers have a far greater chance of making the right moves to convert prospects, and customers, to purchasing.

 


UniFida logo

UniFida is the trading name of Marketing Planning Services Ltd, a London based technology and data science company set up in 2014. Our overall aim is to help organisations build more customer value at less marketing cost.

Our technology focus has been to develop UniFida. Data science business comes both from existing users of UniFida, and from clients looking to us to solve their more complex data related marketing questions.

Marketing is changing at an explosive speed. Our ambition is to help our clients stay empowered and ahead in this challenging environment.


CRM identity resolution: Why it’s not really what it claims to be!

On the surface, CRM systems give the appearance of covering most things you might need when you are looking for technology to help you manage relationships with customers. But the reality is that they have been designed to only deliver the basics, so CRM identity resolution often fails to deliver a full single customer view.

To understand why let’s take a deeper look into what CRM identity resolution does and doesn’t deliver.

  • CRM systems manage what they call ‘contacts’ but these are usually only matched together using email addresses. Customers in fact have many different identifiers like mobile phone numbers, cookie IDs, postal addresses, account numbers etc and there are usually multiple versions of each relating to a single customer. All versions of these personal identifiers need to be stored so that customers reaching you through multiple channels can be properly identified.
  • Next CRM systems only include a part of your customer data. Your customers browse your website, they visit specific pages, they arrive there via different forms of on-line advertising, and all this vital information needs to be included in your single customer view.
  • CRM systems may report sales at a company or salesman level but they don’t look at longer term customer value, or how different channels and different customer recruitment propositions bring different types of customers with different kinds of customer needs.
  • CRM systems may undertake bulk email campaigns, but these are not usually synchronised with other channels such as post or SMS; also given that they don’t generate any added value customer knowledge such as probability of response or likelihood of attrition, the selections they make can only be via quite simplistic filters.
  • CRM systems were born out of the need to enable sales forces to record their activities and results; they were not designed to ingest data from multiple online and offline sources, and deliver a complete customer view.

Over the last five years or so a new breed of technology, Customer Data Platforms or CDPs, have been developed to allow you to properly relate to customers, and to make all aspects of your marketing accountable so that for instance an online order can now be linked back to the several online and offline contacts that preceded it.

Find out more about what a customer data platform is.


UniFida logo

UniFida is the trading name of Marketing Planning Services Ltd, a London based technology and data science company set up in 2014. Our overall aim is to help organisations build more customer value at less marketing cost.

Our technology focus has been to develop UniFida. Our data science business comes both from existing users of UniFida, and from clients looking to us to solve their more complex data related marketing questions.

Marketing is changing at an explosive speed, and our ambition is to help our clients stay empowered and ahead in this challenging environment.


What’s indispensable for your marketing data ecosystem?

What should be the ‘condicio sine qua non’ of all marketing data ecosystems?

The answer is very obvious, but very often overlooked; a marketing data hub or customer data platform that joins together all the front end and back end data.

Underpinning virtually all the multitude of martech applications there is the ever-present need for a solid data hub into which, and off which, they can all feed.

For instance, take website personalisation; it clearly doesn’t make sense to focus the nature and content of a tailored customer experience based just on their recent browsing, when you could also know if that individual was a loyal and steady customer or someone who was only cruising for sale offers.

Or how can you respond to a subject access request under GDPR if your email service provider and order processing system are not in some way linked around individual customer identities.

So what are the key elements in a customer data hub?

  • A means of joining together every data item that relates to an individual using all possible match-keys from cookie IDs to postal addresses
  • Persistent ingestion and storage from all on-line and off-line sources of every item of data from individual transactions to inbound or outbound contacts without summarisation or concatenation
  • Accessibility to other systems both for ingestion and exportation of data that is relevant for that application

There is also the critical organisational element; the data hub is far more likely to be successful, and to provide value, if it is owned and manged by marketeers who get the reason for having it.

This doesn’t mean that the development of a data hub is simple and not needing to be built in collaboration with IT experts. Data is also often untidy or in need of modification like miss-spelt addresses.

There is also a plethora of potential data sources to be fed into the hub, such as:

  • Order processing systems (e.g. for order read donation for charities, and policies for insurers)
  • Website browsers
  • Call center contacts
  • Email service providers
  • Third party data sources like lifestyle overlays or prospect lists
  • Identity resolution tables such as gone-aways
  • Loyalty card applications
  • Appointment booking systems

to name but a few we have encountered.

And then the hub once fed has to drive an ever-growing array of marketing tools. At a very high level these tools either support insights or actions. Typical examples include:

  • Dashboards and data visualisation
  • Digital personalisation
  • Email service providers
  • Campaign selections and response analysis
  • Contact centres
  • DMPs for digital media targetingCustomer research

Our view is that marketeers who plan their technology eco-systems without first planning a customer data hub are giving themselves an ever-growing problem. On the other hand, get the data hub right, and there is no limit to what can grow out of it.


UniFida logo

UniFida is the trading name of Marketing Planning Services Ltd, a London based technology and data science company set up in 2014. Our overall aim is to help organisations build more customer value at less marketing cost.

Our technology focus has been to develop UniFida. Our data science business comes both from existing users of UniFida, and from clients looking to us to solve their more complex data related marketing questions.

Marketing is changing at an explosive speed, and our ambition is to help our clients stay empowered and ahead in this challenging environment.


Why marketers may still need to find a ‘true’ customer data platform?

With all the power of the major CRM packages, this may sound like a stupid question; but we have had multiple clients that use CRM vendors come to us recently because they are not getting the ‘true’ customer data platform, and hence single customer view, they need.

And these clients come from very different sectors including sport, financial services, and charity.

A single customer view that isn’t ‘true’ has some unfortunate consequences.

It becomes very difficult to accurately fulfil GDPR Subject Access Requests if Mr Smith appears several times in the system. It can lead to wasteful and irritating communications such as sending two emails to the same person at the same time. It will mean that you can be treating the same person as a high value customer and as one that has become dormant. It can mean you’re submitting an existing customer to a welcome programme because they changed their email address. It makes your dashboards describing customer recruitment and attrition inaccurate, and so on and so forth.

We believe that the problem has arisen for two key reasons:

  1. the simple one is that the CRMs may let different users set up the same individual multiple times on the system without warnings, unless the contacts provided are absolutely identical
  2. the more complicated one is that correctly identifying individuals is in fact far from simple.

So, you may have an individual with a work email and the same individual with personal email, but they share the same mobile phone number and cookie ID.

They may use a different weekend and weekday name and address, but the same email. Or they may have several devices, hence cookie IDs, but a single email address. And so it goes on.

When we set about designing UniFida, our cloud-based customer data platform, we recognised that correctly identifying people is not only very important, but also very difficult.

So we decided to store as many different types of identifiers as we could. And most importantly to store the history of them, so that we never delete an identifier, unless of course someone is exercising their right to be forgotten.

It does mean that our system has to do a lot more work when new data arrives, because it has to look at all possible identifiers belonging to all personal records before deciding where to place new information.

And that can have interesting results. As well as bringing in new identifiers to an existing record, perhaps a new cookie ID, it can in some cases link together two people whom the system had been previously keeping separate. For instance two different email addresses can be found to have the same mobile phone number, and belong to the same person.

We call the process Purning, because we create a permanent URN, or unique reference number, for each individual, and that stays the same, even if over time all their identifiers may have changed.

As long as we can link a new identifier to an existing one, we know where to put the data that accompanies it.

Anthony and Julian of UniFida

Meet two of our team, Anthony and Julian, demonstrating UniFida.

Contact us if you are interested in a no-obligation chat about how we can help your business.


UniFida logo

UniFida is the trading name of Marketing Planning Services Ltd, a London based technology and data science company set up in 2014. Our overall aim is to help organisations build more customer value at less marketing cost.

Our technology focus has been to develop UniFida. Our data science business comes both from existing users of UniFida, and from clients looking to us to solve their more complex data related marketing questions.

Marketing is changing at an explosive speed, and our ambition is to help our clients stay empowered and ahead in this challenging environment.