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Huge amounts of data, and, cheaper and more impactful ways to utilise it, mean that communications can be more effective than ever.

However, as an industry we have a tendency to personalise exclusively based on the audience and its interests, without considering the messages we have already shown them or the messages we will show them in the future.

This leads to a disconnect between acquisition and retention. Prioritising one over the other is a fallacy. A lot of the mistakes involve brands placing too much value on the vague promise of ‘increased traffic’. This, to me, is very much a vanity metric. Just because you have achieved a certain number of eyeballs on your content, it doesn’t necessarily make them the right eyeballs; there is no guarantee that the people viewing it will potentially buy something from you.

That’s why the best place to start is with your existing customers. Look within your CRM, your previous sales, your best conversions and your highest order values, and reverse-engineer from there. When you introduce that kind of science in to the campaign you are planning, you tend to be able to increase that conversion rate without necessarily having complete control over every single variable.

Better communication between acquisition and retention, and opening those lines of communication as early on as possible, will dramatically change the entire creative aspect of your campaign.

Be smarter with your targets

The key to building loyal and profitable relationships with customers is segmentation within your CRM. What brands can sometimes overlook is the importance of identifying and reacting to what are usually fairly noticeable patterns when it comes to audiences and their habits.

Why cast your net out there and hope for the best when you can use an existing customer as a model for targeting the next one? Look at the people who are frequent customers, that keep buying from you even though they have the option to buy from a competitor – these are the targets for your lookalike audience.

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Equally, there could be scope to re-engage with customers who bought from you two years ago but not since. What are their preferences? Do they follow a specific pattern in terms of demographic, age, device used, or the way they engage with other brands online? Since purchasing from you, they probably haven’t had you at the front of their minds – can you get to front of mind again?

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be targeting those people who have never bought from you but have engaged with you, but you’re probably going to want to push them further down the list. Be selective with your targets, prioritising those who have a history of actually buying from you is a much more effective use of your budget.

Look beyond the numbers

Many businesses prefer to get the numbers in first and analyse the audience afterwards. What I see more often is people who have done the entire piece of work and formed the personas, but not really gone beyond that – there’s no data beyond some initial findings.

A common pitfall is agencies using exclusively acquisition data to form personas, for example exclusively out of Facebook or Google Analytics, but with no real science applied as to whether these people have actually bought anything from them. They might like your content, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily like your product.

At Edit, we tend to ask our clients what they know about their current customers. If they can’t give us a good answer, we make sure to make a note of that, because we know at some point we will talk to someone else in the organisation that does know, and it’s just not being communicated effectively throughout their business. That gives us a good case to put to clients around actually communicating with their businesses a little better.

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Join the dots

Ultimately, clients are usually paying an agency for insight into what’s going on. It can be tempting for agencies to say they are just processing data or managing CRM, but what’s really valuable to clients is insight into what has gone on and why.

Econsultancy’s Top 100 Digital Agencies report

This doesn’t mean all agencies retained by a business need access to the other’s databases, but they should be sharing key learnings so campaigns can be tailored to retain more customers, and the right ones. Everyone comes out looking better when all the agencies are being genuinely collaborative.

Acquisition and retention won’t always sit with one agency, but this is always the preferred scenario. It is hugely valuable to have one person who has sight of both channels and metrics across the board that can say ‘this is a priority for next month, this is number troubling us right now, and this is the one we need to focus on’ – with the ability to change when necessary.

The positives of GDPR

Of course, GDPR has had the effect of rapidly shrinking CRM databases. I would say that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and can even be a blessing in disguise that offers huge opportunities to businesses.

Those customers who have re-consented to receive information from you tend to be pretty good brand advocates, and are probably ideal targets to grow as a customer. When it comes to acquisition and retention – it’s a case of quality over quantity.

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