Five Bedrock Principles of Analytics in Customer-Centric Marketing

Pratap Khedkar, Principal

When you use analytics in customer-centric marketing, I think there are four or five cautionary principles that would be good to keep in mind. So let me walk you through at least what we have seen as being successful.

In the past, analytics, whatever we had, tended to focus on the physician—the individual—but only the physician. And what we now want to say is don’t design for just one player, design for the play. The provider, the institution that maybe employs the physician is very important [as well as] the practice, surrounding other roles, other physicians, other peers, nurses, office managers. So it’s become a much more complex setting.

So when you do the analytics, you need to get data on all these other characteristics, measure the context, segment the physicians accordingly, and then design the analytics for that entire place, the context in which the physician practices, not just the individual.

The second thing is people want to invest in analytics, but they say, “Well, I can’t do analytics without data. So let me invest in a lot of technology; I’ll just collect all the data together.” That means that you’ve invested for two to three years and spent tens of millions of dollars to get your data together before you figure out what to do with it.

And a couple of things can happen. A, it takes very long. It’s very expensive, and the day it’s ready, it’s obsolete. You need to work on analytics in parallel. You need to know what will you do with the data. Is this the right analytics? Is it the right action? Will I get the right ROI?

The third thing is, when you start using analytics, what are you going to measure? Are you going to measure something new? Will that give you more insight?

And one of the things we are seeing is with multi-channel customer-centric marketing, when you have many channels, they work like a play in football, meaning you need many different roles and actions to drive down the field, as opposed to just measuring touchdowns, which is your prescription, which is your measure of success. It’s the measure of ultimate success. But if that’s all you focus on, you will not be very good at driving downfield.

A fourth piece is the bit around sales and marketing integration. What is it about the customer and these other channels that the rep should know about? If there is insight from the rep to improve what I do with the other channels, how will analytics take that and translate it into better action in this side? And in the end, how is the interspersing or coordination of these two going to work?

If you don’t worry about these things specifically, they do not happen. The customer gets bombarded in an uncoordinated way. And the more you try to do, the worse the customer experience becomes.

Analytics is really good for answering the questions you want. But it’s very, very important that you ask the right question. Analytics answering the wrong question is actually very damaging.

It’s not about which channel has the highest ROI. That’s the old mindset that there is one answer and I’m looking for the best answer. It’s like multiple choice. Is the answer A or B or C or D?

But now, it’s a new kind of multiple choice. It’s all of the above. It’s always all of the above. So the trick is not picking one. The trick is, how do you mix them up in the right sequence, in the right amounts, in the right proportions. And how do you do it differently for each physician?

And that change in mindset, that change in how senior management asks the questions, that change in how the brand approaches the allocation of its resources for next year is going to be very important. If they ask the right question, the analytics will deliver.