Nick Adderley is a former Heathrow Airport marketing director
Nick Adderley is a former Heathrow Airport marketing director
A view from Nick Adderley

Who is interested in your brand, and why? Marketers can't afford not to know

Let's roll back in time to the launch of loyalty programmes. In the travel business, the schemes were expensive; you needed lots of skilled, smart...

You mailed out packs of fancy, high-cost literature on a frequent basis. The cost per member or contact was high, so you could justify or afford to build relationships with high-value customers only where you could make a pay-back.

If you flew at the front of an aircraft, you were interesting; at the back, nobody really cared. Or, if you bought something in a shop, maybe once in a while you were invited to sign up for something. But next time you visited the shop or bought a plane ticket, the brand had no idea who you were.

Now, we have individuals using multiple ways to interact with the world, on multiple devices led by the mobile and digital revolution. It isn’t good enough not to know who’s interested in your brand and why, or who’s interested but hasn’t bought yet.

Help is at hand. Big data (or more accurately, big analysis) has arrived, with low-cost, fast, flexible tools to help understand what all that raw data actually means.

The online world already understands this – every contact counts. Thanks to our lovely weather, I need a new shed. I found a good one online, but haven’t bought it yet. Thereafter, pretty much every site I visited has a shed ad (good retargeting strategy by the way, shed shop). Contrast that to my visit to my local DIY store, which has some nice sheds on display. As I didn’t buy one, it has no idea who I am and no chance to follow up. Which is more likely to get my order?

Whereas online was once the poorer relation of the customer buying experience, now it’s the best part. Consumers increasingly see no break between the physical world and online. If you don’t respond to this new reality, you will lose.

Help is at hand. Big data (or more accurately, big analysis) has arrived, with low-cost, fast, flexible tools to help understand what all that raw data actually means. High-quality CRM packages and single customer-view databases with tiny marginal cost of customer management are available.

Heathrow Airport, for example, has combined Apple Passbook, Comarch’s Omnichannel CRM suite, Acxiom’s data analytics and geo-fencing of the location, to create an engaging shopping experience.

A member of the new Heathrow Rewards loyalty scheme can use their iPhone via Passbook rather than a card. When they arrive at the airport, the geo-fence triggers a screen reminder of the points balance on their iPhone. The iPhone can then be used in World Duty Free to buy products with the member’s points balance.

It can be done and doesn’t have to be complex. John Lewis offers free wi-fi in its stores, but only if you sign up to be on its database. The retailer is closing the loop between digital shopper and store visitor, so it can get a better understanding of cross-channel behaviour. Now, if only John Lewis sold cheap sheds.