Cashing in on data
Thomas Cook Belgium is the biggest travel company in Belgium, with more than 35 years of history. That means a goldmine of customer data, Vahnove says.
"We have an in-depth knowledge of our customers: We know what they look for in a hotel, if they have kids, what their favorite activity is on holiday, etc.," she notes. "This added value is very apparent whenever you walk into one of our travel agencies: We know you. We try to give our customers that same personalized approach in our online channels, by targeting our communication on social media, in display, in Google Adwords, in emails and on our website."
But while very experienced in targeting communication, Vanhove says Thomas Cook simply didn't have the tools to get the most of its email and SMS marketing — until the company partnered with Selligent.
"Working with Selligent didn't require much transformation on our part, as our new segmented email strategy fit in seamlessly with our segmentation strategy. What did change was the way we looked at data," she says. "As Selligent provides real time data about what our customers are clicking on and searching for online, we can now build fully dynamic profiles, that change with every click the customer does. The great thing about our omnichannel approach is that this profile is also accessible in our retail shops. So if you walk into one of our shops, we know what type of holiday you were looking at online the days before, and can immediately offer you a product that matches your preferences. Selligent really makes it easier for us to convert prospects into customers."
But regardless of the technology solution, Vanhove says marketers must embrace data now and begin leveraging it, even if it's imperfect.
"Data isn't worth anything if you don't do anything with it," Vanhove says. "So many businesses don't use the data they own because they don't have a plan. Every single bit of data, whether it's a click on an email or a date of birth, tells you something about your customer. The main challenge is figuring out what you want to achieve, which data you want to combine and how you will test if it's working. And don't worry if you can't figure it all out from the get-go.
Start simple: Use different images in communication to women and men, or offer different products to families and singles. But don't just sit on the data until you have a master plan. Simple segmentation is better than no segmentation."
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