Thought Leaders in association withPartners in Crime

How Brands Can Cut Through the Noise in an Increasingly Connected World

Advertising Agency
London, UK
INFLUENCER: Engine's Debbie Klein on the power of data and treating people as individuals, not just consumers

Any brand that assumes it holds the power over its consumers is misguided. New technologies, like artificial intelligence and chatbots, are giving customers far more power, knowledge and choice than ever before.

Now, accessing information or services is as easy as asking Alexa or Siri a question, or opening a smartphone app. Content is everywhere, and available at any time. Consumers are saturated in choice and bombarded with more ads than ever – so much so that 615 million devices globally are now deploying ad blocking software to stop the deluge. Brands risk getting lost in this noise.

So in an age where people are using multiple channels, apps and technologies to make decisions about what products to buy and services to use, how can brands grab consumers’ attention, and more importantly, retain it?

Customer centricity is crucial

The most successful brands will orientate themselves around the customer without the expectation that the customer is going to do the same back. Customers might have a lot going on, but they’ll be able to tell if a brand truly values them or not. And digital technology can help.

Take Domino's for example. The pizza chain has seen consistent growth because of its tech-driven, customer-first approach, working with Engine’s Fuel to leverage their customer data. As part of its strategy, Domino’s has integrated voice ordering across every app, device and platform to make it easier than ever for customers to order. It has also hooked in the younger generation through text messaging, Facebook presence, Twitter ordering and even emoji ordering.

Technology offers a whole host of possibilities like this to engage with customers in new and innovative ways. Why then are brands still not getting it right?

Nowadays, customers won’t stand for being bombarded with generic marketing emails clearly sent out in bulk, and any brand that does do this pays the price. According to a recent study, 90% of UK consumers have unsubscribed from communications from retailers in the past 12 months, with nearly half saying this is because they received too many messages from brands.

As Domino's has proved, what consumers want is for brands to show them love – they want personalised experiences that are tailored to their tastes, habits and lifestyles. And this is where leveraging data and insights is crucial. 

The power of data

Data is a game-changer when it comes to delivering a personalised customer experience. Yet, it amazes me that many brands are still failing to realise the power of it.

Some of the most impactful brands these days use data, particularly in the retail sector. M&S, for example, recently changed its organisational structure and revised its operating model to create a team solely focused on ensuring that customer data and insight is not only available, but utilised by all business units within the company.

This has allowed it to create a single integrated view of each individual customer, giving it an understanding of what, where and how they are shopping. It then has the capabilities to interpret and act on this data, delivering personalised content to customers, wherever they are.

E.ON is another brand that has used data to transform the digital customer experience and change customers’ perceptions of the company. It wanted to reduce the high cost of inbound customer calls by driving more people online, all whilst delivering on its promise to be 'genuinely helpful'.

By gathering data, we helped E.ON to identify the key pressure points in the customer journey where customers were more likely to consider leaving E.ON, such as submitting a meter reading or moving home.

Using this insight, we developed a new concept for E.ON’s website to help customers ‘self-serve’ and improve their experience. In just one year digital visits rose to over 29m, with the website overtaking the call centre as the primary customer service option, helping to increase customer satisfaction and decrease churn. 

Data can be a secret weapon when it comes to delivering personalised digital advertising too. For example, for the games company, King, we use data not just to identify potential customers, but to pinpoint when they are most likely to be playing games online – so that we can deliver highly personalised, targeted advertising. It’s a great example of data driven marketing, which is both creative and seamless, without being pushy.

Treat people as individuals, not just consumers

The all-knowing, all-powerful and always-connected modern-day consumer is making it much harder for brands to stand out in the crowd. But data and technology offer a whole host of possibilities to form deeper and more meaningful connections with them.

In this attention deficit economy, building customer-obsessed teams and utilising data to deliver personalised experiences is the winning formula for attracting and retaining customers. People want to be treated as individuals – not just ‘consumers’. Any brand that fails to get this right stands little chance of thriving in a world that will only become more complex and more connected.

Debbie Klein is Chief Executive, Engine Europe and Asia Pacific