Putting customer data at the center of marketing operations is key to success, and US alcohol brands face more marketing challenges than most.
The reason for this is that the best customer data comes from direct contact with your customers. And in post-prohibition America, beer companies must sell through a distributor, and that distributor then goes through a retailer.
This means customer data is two middle-men away from the parent brand, often leaving those parent brands without a clear picture of their customers. This leads to untargeted, non-specific marketing efforts and, too often, a disconnect between the brand and the people it serves.
That distance was something that one international beer brand wasn’t going to stand for. If companies with data-driven marketing were six times more likely to succeed year-over-year, this Lytics client was going to find a way to get closer to customers and turn the brand into a more data-driven company.
With hundreds of beers and ciders produced across 70 countries, our client was already an industry powerhouse. Its beers consistently rank on top-10 beer brand lists around the world. And the company was already spending time collecting customer data whenever possible—from live events like concerts, boxing matches, sponsored happy hours and philanthropic initiatives.
The trouble was that all that event data lived in disparate databases controlled by different vendors and agency partners. Not to mention that it was only a small slice of the brand's customer base and they still didn’t have access to the rest.
As Kyle Silvernail, account director at Lytics, explains, “The client had a general sense of who their broad target was, but they couldn’t really see an accurate picture of who was buying their product. When you go to your local grocery store and buy a case of their beers, there’s no information coming back telling the parent brand who you are.”
The company's marketing team knew that they needed to bring that data together in one place and harness it to turn customers into true brand advocates. They also believed that there was a way to reach more customers at point of purchase while still following US regulations.
The solution, the team decided, was eCommerce.
To get closer to their customers and collect data before passing sales off to the appropriate middle-men, the brand got into eCommerce. Their new platform is branded with their name. The offerings are all their products. But here’s the key: the back-end system is powered by liquor delivery apps Drizly and Minibar.
So this big, international beer brand isn’t offering retail sales directly to customers, but because the transaction starts at their eCommerce web property they can now collect first-party customer data.
“Because customers supply their personal information on a site run by the brand, we’re able to capture the data,” says Silvernail. “It’s like selling directly to the consumer without selling directly to the consumer. Now we actually know who’s buying the product. We’re able to capture their unique information so that we can email them later or reach out to them via other advertising means.”
For the brand's new eCommerce site to truly reach their goals, they needed a tool that would let them collect and stitch together existing data in one place, collect new data effectively, and put that data to use.
To do all this, the brand turned to Lytics.
“We knew data was key," says Silvernail. "We knew we needed to collect more if we wanted to have a direct relationship with our customers. So we looked for a platform that could ingest data from all the various sources we have and make it useful and actionable."
Lytics—with its robust identity graphing, integrations with email and web content management systems—was the tool they chose to make this new strategy work.
While launching the new eCommerce site, the client also worked to get its existing data from vendors and agencies into Lytics. The company's known users—customers who have shared their email address with the brand—were now stored in one place, their data accessible and usable by the marketing team and easily merged with the new data filtering in through the eCommerce site.
As Silvernail explains, “Every known user is someone that you can directly market to, that you can personalize communication for. The more you have, the more people you can build that long-term customer relationship with.”
Through the eCommerce site, the company's number of known users was now growing and via Lytics, all that customer data was now stored in one place where the marketing team could use it to achieve real-world results.
With Lytics implemented and the eCommerce site up and running, now this international beer brand is using its data in three primary ways: to personalize email, to personalize the website, and to enrich their Facebook audiences.
For email, the focus is on three groups of customers. The first group is targeted based on geography. When a local event or holiday is coming up in an area where beer delivery is legal and available, personalized marketing emails are sent to customers in that area. Open rates on these emails are as high as 29 percent—almost triple industry average.
The second group targeted by email is those who start a purchase on the eCommerce site and abandon their shopping carts before the purchase is complete. Lytics identifies these customers and automatically triggers marketing emails focused on getting the customer to return and complete their purchase. Open rates on these emails are as high as 23 percent—more than twice industry average.
The third group targeted by email is purchasers. For this group, the brand tailors their emails toward re-purchase, working toward customer loyalty.
For website personalization, the brand is testing incentives—offering $5 off on a first purchase or a $4 rebate—exploring customer reactions and success rates in real time to better hone their marketing and offers.
The brand also has a goal to create more cost-effective, targeted social media buys. By feeding Lytics data about their best customers into Facebook, the brand was able to find lookalike audiences and improve Facebook campaign effectiveness by over 300 percent—from a .5 percent click-through rate (CTR) to a 2.1 percent CTR.
When asked what comes next for the brand, Silvernail indicates that the team is focused on improving data hygiene and getting the full portfolio of sub-brands to adopt Lytics and leverage their first-party data. In just the past few months, Silvernail says, the number of brands contributing to the overall data has doubled, making their dataset even richer.
Going forward, the brand is also focused on turning customers into brand advocates and targeting customers based on their interests. Data collected at a rock concert is then filtered into an audience profile for someone who is interested in rock music. Lytics allows the brand to filter this data--which they were already collecting at events--into audiences they can target with relevant marketing.
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