How intelligent is your company about your customers? Do you know enough about them to create a personalized customer experience? Understanding your customers through deep intelligence enables you to drive actions and experiences that can make the difference in your ability to compete in the marketplace and win with them.

In today’s world, competing on price alone cannot win at checkout. You need to create a unique customer experience that separates you from the competition. This could be your customer service, return policy, quality of product or services, or designing a bespoke experience.

Imagine the frustration of working to create an amazing experience for a targeted customer segment but lacking even the most basic information about specific customer interaction with your products or services. In these common instances, a company typically guesses the best customers to target or uses attributes that they feel are the next-best indicator, usually sweeping some people who are not truly targets. This approach leads to marketing campaigns with low response rates and wasted marketing dollars.

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To achieve a better yield on your marketing spend, we recommend creating Customer Intelligence analytical solutions that provide your company with a variety of ways to monetize your customer.

Here is a three-step approach to building a customer intelligence analytical solution.

Step 1: Actions

The first step in our approach is to define the actions you would like to take with your customer-targeting strategy. This can include a wide variety of marketing and sales activities. For a retail company, it might be a segmentation strategy based on customer transactions such as value, frequency and recency of purchase. By segmenting your customers into specific purchase behavioral groups for marketing and sales purposes, you can optimize marketing spend to align with what will attract that customer segment.

An example of event-based marketing to a specific customer segment is performed on a regular basis by Michael Andrews Bespoke, a premier customer men’s clothier in New York City. After analyzing its customers spend, profitability and referral rate, the clothier invites premier clients to a high-end scotch-tasting event. To include all their customers would be cost prohibitive, but by focusing on the best customers, the cost of the event yields high returns.

Other actions you may want to think about include email or mail campaigns, targeted discounts, print media advertising, social media, SEO, paid online advertising and special events. Each of these options is designed to deepen the relationship with your customer, but the type of action may yield a different type of customer intelligence analytical solution.  Knowing upfront your purpose helps yield the right analytics to help monetize customers’ experience with your company.

Step 2: Data

As you work to improve your ability to connect with your customers and build a customer intelligence solution, the next step is to gather the right data. Based on the actions you want to drive, you will need specific datasets or attributes to drive decisions. This, in turn, helps you understand the attributes needed and the data that needs to be collected. We find that starting with the actions and letting them drive your data needs is a clearer path to monetizing it.

Related: 6 Ways to Drive Success with ROI Technology

Stitching together the various datasets needed is often a large undertaking and where most of the time is usually spent. In some cases, you may have more than enough data to support your customer intelligence needs, but in most cases, you will be missing key pieces of information. In either case, having the right data set is the key ingredient to drive revenue through a better understanding of your customer purchase activity.

Places to look internally for the right data include internal systems such as point of sale, customer relationship management, loyalty and order management systems. If the data does not sit within the walls of your company, consider asking customers to fill out a short survey. Surveys can be a great tool to help gather information about what customers are looking for and what they think about your products and services. We recommend that when asking a customer to give you something, return the favor by giving them something back. This could entail a 10 percent off coupon or a free gift.

Another approach to finding the elusive data needed to build your customer intelligence is to purchase the data from a data vendor. There are several data vendors, big and small, that collect a wide variety of information on U.S. consumers. This can include purchasing habits, affinities, social media presence, clickstream data and mobile use, among many others. These datasets often enrich your data to better understand your customers, thereby enabling you to target them with the right offer.

Step 3: Test and Learn

The final step in our approach is to get out there and execute. Begin with leveraging your customer intelligence analytical solution to identify the right candidate customers for the actions and results you want to achieve. Start small with several tests, and see how they perform. Make sure that you set up a way to measure the test, either through inferred or a direct response.  Based on the results of the test, you can scale the marketing activity as appropriate to achieve the desired results.

Your customer intelligence analytical solution will provide the insights needed to monetize customers through actions that best support your business. You will find that the solution is a journey and will grow and mature over time as you achieve success with customers and win in the marketplace.

Andrew Roman Wells is the CEO of Aspirent, a management-consulting firm focused on analytics. Kathy Williams Chiang is vice president of Business Insights at Wunderman Data Management. They are the co-authors of Monetizing Your Data: A Guide to Turning Data into Profit-Driving Strategies and Solutions.