The new 21st Marketing intelligence revolution

In this digital day and age, marketing is more and more about data, analytics, and intelligence. The idea is no longer to just promote a business’s offerings, but also get a better understanding of the customer’s needs, interactions, and choices.

From the beginning of commerce, the most advanced marketers understood the value of storing and organizing information about their customers. But this information happened to be widely heterogenous and inherently managed by each source, and channel of collection across various silos.

A few decades ago, CRM brought about the basic central gathering and organization of demographics, psychographic and purchase history data of customers in different tiers, mainly to optimize loyalty. It quickly evolved in a more comprehensive acquisition and retention repository, where key interactions and their different responses from a wider group of consumers were gathered at various stages of the sales funnel, leading to a more granular segmentation.

Still, it was a challenge for a company to launch; let alone, analyze the impact of a multichannel marketing campaign. For instance, a telemarketing campaign is defined and calibrated with very different tools from those used to build a media campaign or a point of sale/ promotion. Not only did the metrics to measure power and impact were not consistent, but also the angles and cultures of the various specialized agencies or teams in charge were difficult to reconcile.

The changing face of marketing intelligence:

When digital came of age in the first decade of the 21st century, a flow of new, interactive data of tangible traffic and clicks made things even more complex: on one hand, digital departments or specialty agencies were gathering and organizing now rich and traceable insight. On the other hand, advertisers had become more sophisticated in terms of customer segmentation, R.O.I. analysis, revenue and profitability optimization after the explosion of new channels, and platforms available to marketers.

Not only could digital science no longer be an isolated treasure trove of the digital wizards, but it had to merge with the wealth of customer intelligence already accumulated by off-line operations. That’s when software players (Salesforce, Dynamics, SAP, Oracle etc.) introduced various types of single source data architecture and tool boxes that would now help shape the future of marketing intelligence by helping marketers design, manage, and measure the impact of omnichannel marketing.

And along came a new generation of dedicated skills and talents that had to learn an entirely new analytics game with courses such as the Market Research Training Certification by Experfy.

The impact of technology on marketing intelligence

With this advent of new Digital channels and their new generation of data , combined with a growing sophistication of other analytics across various traditional techniques , what seem to be the two most pressing challenges are prioritization and integration of strategic data:from big data to customer segmentation, customer experience to customer satisfaction/ NPS, social buzz tracking and more, how to recognize and extract the most strategic and relevant insight ? How to leverage them to design a seamless, positive customer experience that drives higher recruitment by the brand while nurturing and maximizing the revenue or profitability from the existing customers.

This future of marketing intelligence is not only dependant on complex capabilities, but on a cultural revolution. Because it’s from the customer’s mindset, perception and lifetime value perspective, not the company’s usual short-term suspects (revenue/profit, loyalty rate, NPS), that the success can be accurately evaluated. As it is the customer’s view that counts and allows for a learning curve and improvement in the end, a good way to start is to prioritize big data in several layers - with each making sense, yet being organized around a single and instantly accessible view of the customer as a whole by each customer facing agent of the company.

This shift actually calls for a genuine culture of customer centricity, which is deeper than management consulting buzzwords or grand product-centric innovation that the biggest NASDAQ brands have been relying upon for their growth in the last 2 decades (from Google to Facebook, Netflix, Apple or Amazon etc.). These companies are still merely shaping up their full value proposition and fluid offering, international expansion or data breach and/or privacy challenges, that is more than focused on empowering customers to dictate the tailored value and experience that they could expect.

What a waste when these Tech giants can easily afford and possess at their fingertips the most powerful, wide spectrum set of behavioral Retail or Online data as well as the full vertical capabilities than any Walmart, Mcdonald's or other leading 20th-century brands could ever hope for.

Measuring the right marketing metrics:

One of the most revealing and deepest metrics of success and optimum marketing ROI should boil down to how a company actually delivers from a customer’s perspective versus its advertised, self-proclaimed brand value proposition and differentiation - as Mr. Neumeier spelled it out as the ‘brand gap’.

But how do you measure it? How do you address it with all the new tools and expertise that have been created since then?

Leading companies have evolved from mainstream NPS score that focuses on a single and basic declared intent to recommend/ advocacy for the brand among their peers to a more elaborate and rich process of what lies behind this narrow declarative. It has to use the entire customer journey as a framework against which to measure customer experience, design a full-fledged feedback and collection strategy, and empower a dedicated customer advocacy program.

Leaders also incorporate into their dashboards another layer of metrics related to the origins of advocacy or detraction: online Buzz or reputation. The digital footprint is not only potent and revealing indicators that can drive acquisition and retention, but also a very powerful tool to redirect perceptions and outcomes from the market’s side.

Another crucial layer to generating a customer experience delivery that translates into loyalty and higher revenue is the degree of engagement and attraction of a brand through its marketing program: how do customers feel about the brand vibrancy and perceived dedication to satisfying you in every way. From an app to an eCommerce website, how do customers react to new messaging, redirected solicitations or offers? How does it impact their responsiveness, activity time and frequency/usage with your brand, service, website, and product? How much more brand recall does a brand generate as compared to its key competitors? This is one of the areas where better response-based analytics need to be harnessed towards a learning curve and re-engineering of the full marketing program of even the most mature B2C or B2B leading companies.

Last but not the least, there are obvious limits of putting your entire focus on a simple metric like NPS - to the point of tying bonuses of entire teams towards this single score, rather than a culture of learning, adaptation or re-consideration of the overall marketing value chain.

In other terms, you can measure the temperature of the patient or put a bandage on a wound, hoping for the best till the next doctor’s visit. But you don’t learn much about the cause and origin of the injury or sickness, nor do you even start treating it. That’s because the secret of a real treatment and cure lies in making use of data - in this case, marketing intelligence. This is empowered by great ‘brand doctors’: multidisciplinary, holistic visionaries who possess soft skills (communications, intuition, empathy & creativity) as well as the hard command of all marketing channels and disciplines , from Traditional to Digital.

Brand realignment with the power of analytics:

Once you have the right approach, how do players like BrandForces succeed in driving brand realignment from a brand gap approach, using the power of analytics?

Like a good doctor, you need to first listen to the patient carefully without any preconceived diagnostic. If you are a cardiologist, chances are that you want to know what’s wrong with the heart and not likely to detect a urinary tract infection or the early signs of Alzheimer. A good general practitioner has this unique ability to approach the patient and his lifestyle in a holistic way, looking for the slightest anomalies and without any self-fulfilling prophecy.

There is a range of key questions to answer, to know why customers get unhappy - which is certainly more costly and complicated, but so much richer than measuring a CSAT or NPS index. That’s how a new wave of analytics techniques and tools have shaped up, and a new generation of data scientists are being trained in leading marketing analytics with expert designed courses.

There is a range of key questions to answer, to know why customers get unhappy - which is certainly more costly and complicated, but so much richer than measuring a CSAT or NPS index. That’s how a new wave of analytics techniques and tools have shaped up, and a new generation of data scientists are being trained in leading marketing analytics with expert designed courses.

Beyond a holistic diagnostic, one must improve the overall customer satisfaction, have the courage of looking dissatisfaction in the eyes rather than conducting self-satisfactory polling or focus groups through the same lens. Everybody acknowledges the “Customer satisfaction iceberg” analogy according to which only 10% of dissatisfied customers actually take the time or have the will to share his or her feedback or details about his or her negative experiences. This only goes to say that only 90 % of dissatisfied customers walk away with their money in silence, re-allocating their business to the competitor and leaving us with little (and expensive) chance to learn from our fatal mistakes or win them back in time before they get a taste of the competitor.

But we all know that acquiring a new customer or re-acquiring a lost one, costs more as compared to retaining the existing ones. So a big step towards better marketing intelligence is to put the root cause of dissatisfaction and churn at the center of a company’s marketing strategy and resources before losing the quiet customers.

Re-engineering your marketing architecture:

Leveraging marketing analytics involves re-architecturing or re-engineering, which most bigger corporations are incapable of implementing. Either it is too costly or there isn’t enough short term revenue associated to it. Apart from that, it requires a fresh perspective that most senior corporate, middle management teams can’t offer from their experience.

For instance, a newly appointed or driven CMO will be able to recognize the shortcomings and have the energy to question an entire marketing strategy. As a CMO in America stays an average of 2 to 3 years on the job in a given company, corporations are merely nurturing a repeat or slight improvement of their strategies from their last year’s experience. Left to mostly relying on stable and established middle managers, there companies don’t focus enough on empowering a cultural shift around a new marketing vision. Only good consultants or nimble agencies are in a better position to actually lead a true transformation from the diagnostic to full implementation.

If they get lucky, companies who understand these inherent challenges of the marketing ecosystem, will let qualified outsiders lead, inspire and train talents in this new direction.


In conclusion, beyond the key steps of customer experience satisfaction, loyalty engineering, etc, the power of success, for the future of marketing intelligence seems to lie in truly empirical and irrational magic. A little more art and culture than science, not so much through the creative message anymore, but rather through the overall “music conducting “ of a complex ensemble of instruments and data.

Talents with both hard and soft skills, as well as a solid strategic drive will make a difference between buzzwords and real, long term value and competitive advantage. The next big 21st century marketing challenge seems to hang in the balancing act of art over science !

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