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Mena’s customer data dilemma

A finely tuned consumer data strategy depends on a unified approach

Customer-centric data management solutions are crucial to modern marketing technology. Chief marketing officers and chief data officers in the oil and gas (O&G) industry need to look beyond the alphabet soup of acronyms and at the functionality a platform offers to solve their data ­dilemmas.

When chief marketing officers and chief data officers make strategic choices around data, these decisions will affect their businesses over the next 5-10 years. The goal, to achieve maximum personalisation and customer centricity, must be to unify and activate user data to deliver rich customer experiences. This goal has led to a myriad of data management solutions and numerous platform offerings

Marketers face a common challenge: their data is spread out across too many touchpoints in the customer journey. Without a way to unify and organise it, they risk being unable to score the perfect customer experience.

One platform to rule them all

To date, most companies have focused on data management platforms and customer relationship solutions. The data management platform (DMP) organises and activates third- and second-party data, including data from online, offline and mobile sources. It helps enable customer acquisition by identifying audience segments and helps create brand awareness through targeting users and contexts in advertising campaigns.

A customer relationship management (CRM) system records and organises first-party data. This platform focuses on customer loyalty and advocacy to reduce churn. This is done by enabling the platform user to manage and analyse interactions with past, current and potential ­customers.

These separate platforms have left a gap that has led to the genesis of customer data platforms (CDPs) which record, unite and activate first-, second- and third-party data under one roof. CDPs unify customer data into a single system accessible to other systems.

Investing in consumer insights

Simply put, the more plugged in a population is, the greater the gains will be from a CDP. The Middle East, in particular, illustrates the point.

The UAE has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world. The public cloud market in the UAE, one of the most active DBT markets in the Middle East, is likely to grow by 35pc in 2020, to $406mn compared with $299mn last year.

The popularity of the cloud, in public and corporate spheres, indicates what consumers want—full control of their finances, accounts and other features on the go and in one place. According to the Publicis Sapient Digital Life Index report, UAE consumers are most willing to pay for connected features and most likely to feel that the experience they have of using their smartphone should be standard. Such a connected population provides data opportunities across all industries, the O&G ­industry ­included.

O&G executives polled by digital transformation business Publicis Sapient and Petroleum Economist for a recent report expect heavy investment over the next 18 months in digital marketing and consumer insights. Leaders in the Middle East and Africa ranked communication and collaboration as being much more important than leaders in any other region. They also ranked investment in consumer loyalty higher than all ­other regions.

A 360° view of the customer

O&G companies must now become platforms themselves, able to bring experiences and systems together with data at the core. CDPs connect all relevant omnichannel information about the customer, while urgently and accurately generating insights that can be made available in real time to inform other systems and stakeholders at scale.
By centralising what they already know and connecting to what they are learning, companies can achieve a unified, 360° view of the customer that can inform marketing and broader business decisions.

Having a single, integrated view of customers creates the conditions for better returns across marketing and media campaigns. Sentiment analysis, propensity-to-buy models and recommendation analyses allow marketers to better understand where investment will make the greatest impact.

With data silos consolidated onto one platform, consumer insights are easier to access and marketing campaigns can be programmed with automated responses. O&G leaders can use the data to navigate among a network or community of customers to find out what is driving the purchase decision, understanding a customer’s intent, preferences and needs and therefore what other products and services may be of interest.

In the UAE, fuel retailers recognise that mobile apps, electric vehicle charging stations, and expanded food and beverage, convenience and personal services offer additional revenue streams to their existing customer bases.

A CDP can also ringfence the customers that are engaged in your brand and measure how often promotional nudges will encourage them to make additional visits and purchases.

These insights are not just valid for fuel retail consumers; investing in a CDP can deliver digital marketing transformation goals across B2B markets and other B2C channels too.

Maximising B2B transactions

Digital leaders in B2B organisations also have a lot to gain. Agribusiness, an industry at the same customer data maturity level as the O&G industry, has seen success by integrating flexible open-source B2B e-commerce platforms. For example, Saltworks, an American importer, manufacturer and supplier of gourmet salt, now operates B2B and B2C websites and analyses and tracks all sales from one unified platform.

Fuel retailers are able to target a single consumer, a given individual making the buying decision. Meanwhile in B2B, it is typically a group of people who are making decisions, so the trick is to find everyone in that decision-making collective and keep your brand front of mind and everyone engaged.

A CDP will help to analyse your customer journeys to identify where you lose potential buyers and where you gain them. It will help inform which channels and messages are best for your customers and prospects, and will give you a more accurate view of your account base to find similar prospect accounts.

By understanding all the stakeholders in both the consumer and B2B space, O&G marketing executives can take a sharper approach to collecting relevant data. They can leap ahead in the digital maturity curve of their industry by learning from agriculture and other retail sectors. As populations across the globe move towards higher digital penetration rates, a platform that unifies customer data into a single system accessible to other systems will become a priority for O&G leaders.

This article was taken from our Digitalisation Review publication

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