The early the customer's journey were amazing. You and your customer were thrilled to find one another, and the future was full of promise. They made a few purchases, perhaps signed up for your emails and maybe even engaged with you on social media. You served them well and looked forward to a long and fulfilling life together.
Then—poof!—they vanished. Months have passed. You’re trying to reach them in all the same ways, waiting for a response, but… nothing. You’re still hoping they return, but in your heart, you know it’s time to acknowledge that the patient approach isn’t working.
Your customer has officially gone dormant.
And while you’re not too proud to admit how badly you want them back, you’re not sure how to find them or what to say. Worse, that confusion speaks to a more important point: Perhaps you don’t know your customer as well as you thought you did.
It’s an easy trap for brands to fall into, especially those solely relying on their own first-party data.
Why do customers go dormant?
Owned, first-party data is a powerful and unique source of customer insights, and in the best cases, it can provide all the visibility you need into purchasing and engagement behavior to nurture a strong, lasting relationship.
But that’s the best-case scenario. There are plenty of other instances in which a first-party-only approach doesn’t get the job done because there are huge gaps in customer understanding. You don't know, say, what a customer is doing off your properties, what they're visiting and shopping for at other brands, and which devices and emails they prefer to use—all of which leads to disconnected experiences. In those cases, your rogue customer may not have intentionally turned away from your brand, but rather just slipped through the cracks of your measurement systems.
What you can do about it
How can you find those lost customers and deliver the messages most likely to resuscitate the relationship? The key is a digital customer data platform (CDP) that not only harnesses the full power of your first-party data, but also draws on external insights to create a more complete view of your customer.
For example, a brand would want to start with first-party data inputs such as a name, email address, physical address, purchase history and behavior while interacting with the brand’s website or mobile app.
Then, using a strong identity platform, the digital CDP would then match the first-party data with external insights such as what the customer watches on broadcast and streaming services, which devices and browsers they use to access the internet and the websites they frequent.
Having a strong identity platform would also enhance the efficacy of a brand’s first-party data by cleaning, completing and unifying it. This data is person-based and mapped to individuals rather than segments—but always in a privacy-compliant, pseudonymous, secure environment. And that data is only used to enhance that brand's first-party data, not shared or used in activation without privacy safeguards in place.
The result is an expanded view that leads to powerful new insights, including additional connections between online and offline touchpoints. You’ll spot new opportunities to reengage those dormant customers, identify possible sources of customer fatigue and ultimately spot opportunities for conversion, up-selling, and cross-selling.
And you’ll be able to take advantage of those insights more efficiently because digital CDPs can build highly targeted audiences to facilitate smarter media reach across both owned and paid destinations. Moreover, thanks to rapid advances in modeling and machine learning, the insights generated from a digital CDP aren’t static, but rather can continuously evolve and improve. You’ll not only gain a better sense of what your customer is up to, but you’ll be able to predict future changes in their behavior and preferences and message accordingly.
Not only can a digital CDP help revive dormant customers, but it also can help customers from lapsing or from going dormant in the first place. The expanded insights it provides lead to a clearer and more persistent view of the customer, which makes it easier to determine the factors influencing behavior. There are many reasons for a customer to go a long time between purchases beyond the dreaded possibility that they’ve begun buying from a competitor.
Some potential reasons are innocuous: Perhaps the customer’s needs are seasonal, for example, and the best strategy is to pause marketing efforts until the customer is likely to return to the market. There’s also the possibility that a digital CDP could turn up new opportunities by correctly predicting that the customer is in the market for a different product that you also offer.
Want to learn more about digital CDPs? A whitepaper from The CDP Institute, "Identity resolution lays the groundwork for stronger media activation through customer data platforms," discusses the value that identity resolution can bring to digital CDPs and what to look for in a solution.