Imagine a customer named Frank. Frank has been coming to your sporting goods store once or twice a year for three years, and in doing so imparted some significant information to you.
He’s purchased a baseball bat, baseball mitts for an adult and a child, and then later a larger bat for a teenager. He’s also picked up a golf bag and two high-end clubs.
Frank’s zip code indicates he doesn’t live nearby. Whenever he comes to the store, he brings a coupon he printed at home.
What you have here is a collection of valuable customer attributes. Odds are you’ve already collected most of this information in your database, information that could be crucial to increasing sales. You just might not realize it yet. You can use this information to fine-tune your marketing and promotional efforts so they’re directed at the customers most likely to respond with a purchase.The finer attributes of attribution
The trick is to turn these attributes into attribution. Attribution is the compilation and redefinition of these facts—when and how Frank buys what he buys—into something retailers can call up in real-time, easily, quickly and personally.
The traditional promotional tools—such as a generic newsletter—target all customers equally. So Frank receives the same information as Wanda, a soccer mom who buys knee socks and cleats for girls. One newsletter, hundreds – or thousands – of customers. You cast a wide net and cross your fingers, hoping you get a few bites.
Frank has certain attributes of interest to marketers: his spending habits (high-end), his frequency (twice a year), his hobbies (baseball, golf) and his lures (coupons).
Using customer attribution, you can send Frank a personalized newsletter: Tell him he can save $100 on any purchase over $400. Or, new baseball gear just came in. Or, it’s springtime, and we’ve got a sale on new golf clubs.
If you haven’t seen Frank in eight months, this might just bring him back.Making it work in real-time
Attribution can do more than just help you identify customers. As in the case of the newsletter, it can create real-time opportunities for you to market your products to specific individuals.
By creating a newsletter with slots of data points instead of hard copy, you can make sure emails to Frank lead with sporting goods, whereas emails to Jim lead with menswear, and Stacy’s version features children’s clothes.
A few years ago, it would have taken data companies a week to figure out who a retailer’s best customers were in any given department. When they wanted to find their most reliable dress shoppers, someone would have to cleave through mounds of data to discover who was buying dresses most often and for how much.
With attribution, those data points already exists. Attribution makes possible new control systems whereby retailers can find their top dress purchasers instantly. It can save a tremendous amount of time and money.Taking Attribution One Step Further
Here’s the trick: Even though Jim might care about menswear, menswear might not care about Jim.
When you “segment off” customer attributes, you’re compiling a list of your most valuable customers. So even though Jim exclusively buys menswear, he might be the 100,000th most valuable customer your company has, because he only swings by once a year for a new tie. When you have a promotion to target your top 10,000 customers, Jim won’t make the cut.
The beauty of systematic attribution is that you’ll have all this information readily available. You won’t waste time bothering Jim with something you know probably won’t bring him in anyway.Speed Up Your Sales
Attribution can completely transform how retailers use their customer data. It evolves it from buckets of garbled complexity into categories that are easy to manage:
- Data works in real-time: no more wasting a week to compile data about your best customers you can pull up in seconds.
- Data becomes actionable: you’ve got big data already, so put it to good use
- Data becomes timely: it tells you when customers are likely to respond to prompts, so opportunities aren’t missed.
You know what else? It’s easy. Once you learn how to manage your big data, attribution becomes a cinch. From an investment standpoint, dividends can come quickly. Once an attribution system is established, there’s very little front-end work and queries can be answered instantly. There’s little to risk, but plenty to gain.