Customer data is today’s marketer’s true competitive advantage

December 13, 2021 Data-driven customer journey

Customer data is today’s marketer’s true competitive advantage

It is customer data that drives business results for consumer businesses. In this blog, you'll learn concrete examples on how to utilise data in marketing

We may think that we are on top of our data. Unfortunately, for most businesses this is more of a beautiful idea than actual reality. There are several hurdles yet to be cleared, for both eCommerce and consumer businesses in retail:

  • Google Analytics is well in place for most, but data utilisation is at a low level
  • eCommerce sites generate customer data, but functionalities that would support personification and automation of digital marketing are difficult to implement
  • Many businesses and brands are not using marketing automation nearly enough. Personalising marketing is time-consuming and expensive when done manually.

In a word, there is data, but the means of effective utilisation are missing. According to a recent study by the Capgemini Research Institute, “Only 38% of marketers say they have ‘customer segments and personas’ data in the required format to aid decision making in marketing”.

The best utilisation tool to tackle the challenges above is a Customer Data Platform (CDP).

What is customer data for eCommerce, retail, and brands?

Before looking into utilising customer data and seeing the business benefits, we need to understand what customer data is.

Customer data for eCommerce, retail, and brands means a great variety of information:

  • Personal data is an obvious example. It includes name, email address, telephone number, and place of residence. It also includes demographic data, such as age, bonus/loyalty level, income level and gender.
  • Purchase data consists of data from both eCommerce and physical locations.
  • Behavioural data, which includes browsing data, newsletter subscriptions, newsletter opens and clicks, transactional data (discarded carts, wishlist adds, etc.), mobile app data, and customer service data, such as service contacts/tickets and notes that customer service personnel have made.
  • Qualitative and enriched data touches on all other data (see above), but it also goes deeper. This is where and how the best possible customer experience is worked out by learning more about the customer. There are many means with which to get qualitative and enriched data: Customer surveys and customer service surveys are great at getting the customer’s opinions, preferences (favourite colour and styles), interests, and motivational factors, etc. And don’t forget to enrich your customer data with data that you get from competitions!

360 degree view of customer - Custobar

Note! With a Customer Data Platform (CDP), especially, this kind of customer data entails customer identification. If a customer is not identified, there is only data but no way of knowing who’s behind the data.

Customer identification and a Customer Data Platform (CDP) are the prerequisites for utilising customer data

Google Analytics and other analytic tools gather customer data, but because that customer data is not identifiable, that data remains unactionable in your own marketing channels. Or at least un-personalisable. Customer identification and marketing technology is needed to:

  • utilise customer data in marketing and customer communications
  • move the customer forward on the customer journey
  • enhance customer experience

The one marketing technology tool to encompass a CRM (Customer Relationship Management), a Marketing Automation system, and a client database software, is a Customer Data Platform (CDP). Although, to be more accurate, not all CDPs include an inbuilt marketing automation. The Custobar CDP does.

Briefly, a CDP can be divided into three parts:

Customer Data Platform Custobar

  • Data collection. That means existing integrations, integrations to eCommerce, open interfaces to other data systems. Data collection is about personal and purchase data (online, mobile apps, and physical locations), but also all the other data types from browsing data to enriched data, that was described above.
  • Making audiences and triggers. Based on the existing customer data, it is easy to create dynamic audiences (customer segments). Rules for marketing automation paths (or flows) can also be made.
  • Reaching your target audiences. It is also easy to create personalised marketing campaigns and to maintain omnichannel customer communications (see the examples below).

3 + 2 examples of customer data utilization in practice

Email campaign based on purchase data

Do you have 15 minutes to spare for creating an ad hoc marketing campaign? One of our clients did. Good for them (see below)!

The weather forecast said that a blizzard was heading to southwestern Finland. Our client was quick on their feet and saw this as a business opportunity (snow shovels and other relevant tools were part of their inventory). For the campaign, they created a customer segment that

  • had a yard (had purchased yard and/or garden maintenance gear) within the last 6 months
  • had made purchases from stores that were in the blizzard area

The audience (customer segment) created consisted of 29 000 customers for whom an email was drafted that informed them about the upcoming blizzard and tools to grapple it. The email included information about the calorie count that snow shoveling burned in 30 minutes.

Campaign results could be monitored in real time with information of where the sales were coming from (eCommerce or stores). What took one person literally only 15 minutes generated nearly 23 000 euros in sales.

More sales by sending catalogues to the right audience


Another client of ours, Finnish fashion and clothing chain Kekäle, wanted to know if physical, printed product catalogues were still relevant. Catalogues are challenging, because they are expensive, it is hard to measure their results, and they most likely are not relevant for customers who do their shopping online.

For their catalogue mailing campaign, they included customers who had made purchases within the last 2 years and whose marketing authorisation made this type of marketing okay. They excluded customers who had only bought online and who had recently engaged with email marketing.

From that campaign, Kekäle made 20 percent more sales with a customer segment that was reduced by 20 percent. More importantly, though, they gained invaluable insight into their customer base. They learned that they have a customer segment that needs to be communicated with differently than for all the other segments, and that it would be well worth it.

Data-driven SMS campaign

Let’s look at yet another real-life example. A retail client decided to activate passive customers via an SMS campaign. The SMS marketing message contained a discount code. Their marketing expenses: 2 800 euros. Their sales: nearly 300 000 euros.

There are other success stories that verify the importance of utilizing your customer data and personalising your marketing. The era of mass messages is truly over. What unites the examples below is that

  • they all made substantial wins
  • their sales went up exponentially
  • they have been truly data-driven, especially when it comes to utilizing customer data

Customer data forerunners

Fiksuruoka (Smart Food) is a Finnish eCommerce company that aims at reducing food waste. During the pandemic, the company raised their revenue from 3,7 million euros to 12 million euros. Within one year!

Another Finnish company, Finnish Design Shop, increased their revenue 54 percent in 2020. That meant a turnover of more than 40 million euros.

For Fiksuruoka, data plays a major part.

"We utilize data and analytics in buys, pricing, and digital marketing. Data also guides the way we develop our eCommerce site and customer experience." Juhani Järvensivu, CEO of Fiksuruoka

Same is true for Finnish Design Shop, but with their own personal twist:

"There’s been predictions about the death of email marketing for quite a while now. However, for us, it is the third important channel for driving sales, right after organic and paid Google searches." Teemu Kiiski, CEO of Finnish Design Shop

Don’t let your customer data go to waste. Your business cannot afford it.

To sum up, the business benefits of utilising your customer data are as follows:

  • Collecting customer data into one place eliminates silos among marketing, sales, and customer services.
  • Your existing customers are golden. Remind and engage them with targeted & personified marketing contents and communications.
  • The business benefits of utilising your customer data include increased sales, finding the most cost-efficient marketing channels, and deepening your customer understanding.

The Custobar Customer Data Platform also enables seamless omnichannel customer service and customer experience. The inbuilt marketing automation takes care of your second most important commodity after customer data: the time you have available.