Dunnhumby: Five Critical Mistakes That Disrupt Customer-centric Marketing

Dunnhumby believes that when marketing programs aren’t working, the focus on the customer is likely lost. Consumers increasingly have the power to control the marketing mix and, ultimately, if they will allow marketers to reach them. Brands that lack relevance will be shut off by consumers, rendering relevance critical to a customer-centric marketing approach.

Speaking at the D2 Digital Dialogue Conference in Cincinnati on Sept. 11, Matt Nitzberg, Dunnhumby’s Executive Vice President of Communications and Media, said that marketers often fall into the trap of abusing the convenience and low cost of using digital, causing consumers to be inundated with messages that aren’t relevant to them. When this happens, there is risk of alienating customers and potential customers.

“When consumers receive emails or other digital communications that make them say ‘why am I getting this?’ it causes marketers to come across as unaware, unconcerned, and unable,’’’ Nitzberg told more than 300 marketers and agency executive during his opening keynote address. “Marketers are spending billions of dollars on marketing that customers don’t really want to see.

Analytics firm Dunnhumby USA and the Cincinnati chapter of the American Advertising Federation organized the event.

Nitzberg said that earning advocacy is a true test for if marketing programs have the customer at the center and that relevance is critical to ensuring that consumers keep marketing channels open to them. Nitzberg shared five mistakes that have continued to drive a lack of relevance and inability to place customers at the center of a brand’s marketing plans:

1 - Big Data, Small Thinking

There has been a recent explosion of data, but Nitzberg said it’s often still approached with a very small mindset. “If today we go to market with the idea that the most valuable customer is the customer I don’t have, which is a fundamentally wrong proposition for most mature brands, and use all of that big data but still have that small idea, it’s fundamentally flawed,” said Nitzberg.

2 – Wrong Data, Wrong Insights

These are other critical issues noted by Nitzberg. For example, demographic data continues to play a huge role in targeting, even when individual customer data is available and could lead to more intelligent and effective targeting.

3 - Focus on Inputs Instead of Outcome

Focusing on inputs instead of outcomes is a critical issue creating lack of relevance. Nitzberg advised that focusing on lowering costs per contact or CPMs are the wrong goals. Instead, marketers should be asking how to maximize ROI. In some cases, increased costs per contact may lead to a lift in sales and a lift in ROI.

4 – Wrong Channel

The fourth red flag for irrelevancy is using the wrong channel. Marketers, especially digital marketers, must remember that not everything should be digital. Some customers would prefer to be reached by other channels, such as direct mail or TV. Marketers need to get it right for every customer, every time.

5 – Wrong Rewards

Using wrong rewards is another issue impacting relevance.

Nitzberg said “you get what you reward” and that in many cases the systems don’t reward customer-centric marketing.  “There can be rewards systems on the agency side where the direction from the client is ‘I want you to maximize the number of impressions.’ So the agency tries to maximize impressions, but often isn’t focused on if they are the right impressions, the right customers, or the right content.” By rewarding impressions, those customer-centric measures are lost and the marketer is not putting the customer at center.’’’ 

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