A new study confirms the importance of data mining in managing customer relationships, but finds that most organizations fail to use the technique effectively.

According to the report by Forbes Insights, in association with PwC, "Leading With Customer-Focused Content: Driving Growth Through Personalized Experiences," the majority of organizations either lack a content strategy or are making do with one that’s incomplete.

“Often that means relegating content creation to a vacuum within the marketing department, or relying on bootstrap approaches spread throughout the organization. They may produce content, but it’s rarely personalized, nor is it well integrated with broader objectives like developing the brand or increasing customer loyalty,” the study noted.

The movement today is toward customer personalization, precisely targeting individuals, which requires intimate knowledge of a customer and their preferences and habits. This makes the role of data mining critical for competitiveness. Fortunately, there are some “savvy organizations that have a comprehensive strategy that furthers their business priorities by enabling them to produce and deliver personalized content in a cost-effective and sustainable way.”

The study, which is based on a global survey of 369 senior executives, shows that organizations can be characterized as belonging to one of three groups:

Trailblazers constitute 25% of respondents and these high performers embrace the five key practices (outlined below). They consider personalized content critical to their marketing strategy and create and deliver content proficiently.

Explorers—67% of respondents—are aware of content’s importance but still struggling to create personalized customer experiences and to consistently use content to their advantage.

Nomads—8% of respondents—do not believe personalized content is critical to their marketing strategy, nor do they prioritize content planning and measurement.

“This report demonstrates how far many companies still have to go to achieve a complete content strategy,” said Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer and Head of the CMO Practice at Forbes Media. “It also lays out a roadmap of how to get there through these key practices.”

The study recommends that organizations follow these five key practices.

  • Start with business priorities—Content strategy is driven by business goals.
  • Appoint a content champion—A senior executive such as the CMO or chief digital officer.
  • Know customers through data—Mine data to learn about the target audience, then create and deliver relevant content.
  • Build capability—Invest in content marketing capabilities, including technology and data integration and analytics.
  • Measure to optimize—Everything is measured, and content is optimized based upon this data.

“Personalization needs more than just great creativity to make content more engaging,” said Matt Egol, Chief Strategy Officer, PwC’s Digital Services. “It requires analytics, technology and new ways of working that stretch the culture.”

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