Marketers: Overcome Your Data Challenges With Customer Communities

Filiberto Selvas

Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. A successful company that doesn’t depend on customer data.

What do these three things have in common?

None of them exist.

(Sorry, kids.)

For businesses to thrive, customer data is crucial. This has always been true, but it’s even more important today. Customer data helps marketers learn about their existing and prospective buyers so they can deliver relevant content and customer experiences that increase brand awareness, drive sales, and earn customer loyalty.

According to the September 2016 commissioned study, “Drive Greater Marketing Impact by Leveraging Online Communities,” conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP, nearly 90% of companies agree that customer data plays an important role in their marketing strategies. Yet many organizations struggle to collect – and subsequently capitalize on – useful data about their customers and prospects.

By leveraging an online customer community, your business can overcome its greatest data challenges and make a significant impact across the enterprise.

What can marketers do with data?

Today’s marketers use a wide variety of sources – from social media to loyalty programs – to gather data about their current and prospective customers.

While customer communities rank behind social media, loyalty programs, and several other methods or tools used to collect customer data, they present marketers with myriad opportunities to go beyond superficial information – age, gender, income level, etc. – and gain a deeper understanding of buyer preferences, attitudes, and intent.

With this newfound data at their fingertips, marketers are better prepared to:

  1. Support prospects throughout the purchasing journey: It’s increasingly imperative that marketers know where prospects are in their purchasing journeys. Without this insight, marketers face an uphill battle in facilitating the movement of prospective buyers between the purchasing journey’s various phases. Moreover, by neglecting where a potential customer is in his or her purchasing journey, you increase the risk of dropout.
  1. Deliver the right content at precisely the right time: Information fuels sales. As a marketer, you need to educate your prospective buyers about your products and/or services in order to inspire confidence and drive purchases. With the right data, you can ensure that the content you’re creating is relevant and personalized for the prospective buyers you most directly want to reach and deliver it to them at exactly the right time.
  1. Promote effective user-generated content: Developing and distributing company-created content is one thing. But providing customers and prospects with access to useful community-generated content is equally important. Buyers see great value in peer-generated content. In fact, 71% of marketers agree that individuals who read user-created content are more likely to make purchases than those who don’t, per Forrester Consulting. So it’s important for a marketer to be able to recognize potentially effective community-generated content and then promote it accordingly.

Avoid the costly mistake of ignoring customer data

Forrester research suggests that roughly 50% of companies struggle to understand their current and prospective customers. That’s because they don’t have access to the right data. And without the proper insight into their buyers’ perceptions, attitudes, and desires, marketers are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to delivering exceptional customer experiences that drive sales.

If your organization isn’t leveraging the power of customer communities to gain a deeper understanding of your buyers and prospects, it could be a costly mistake.

Discover how you can overcome your data challenges and explore the multitude of other ways a customer community can benefit your company today. Read this Forrester Consulting thought leadership paper, Drive Greater Marketing Impact by Leveraging Online Communities.

Filiberto Selvas

About Filiberto Selvas

Filiberto Selvas is Director of Product Management at SAP, focusing on SAP Jam Communities. He is responsible market definition, feature requirements, positioning, pricing, go to market, sales enablement, and partner strategies for the cloud solution. Working with globally dispersed engineering, sales, and marketing teams, Filiberto manages direct relationships with customers, analysts and partners. Prior to working at SAP, Filiberto has 25 years of experience in digital marketing, CRM, social networking, support, and online communities for a number of technology companies including 17 years with Microsoft.