This is a series of articles showcasing brands who have demonstrated best practice in customer engagement. These brands have transformed their relationships with their customers by improving customer engagement. Meet Marston’s: a customer engagement hero brand and the largest brewer of cask ale in the world.
Marston’s had a clear vision to ‘bring social back’ to their pubs. They discovered that having better information about their customers could help them ferment great relationships. And make them last longer than a couple of beers. And they discovered the cost of investing in customer engagement really is small beer compared to the value it brings.
You wouldn’t take a nicely-brewed pint and pour it down the drain. But Marston’s, the largest brewer of cask ale in the world, seemed to be doing just that with their customer information.
“What beers did visitors prefer? Who did they visit a pub with? Which were their favourite menu options?”
All that valuable information was available for them to capture. But instead it was all trickling away.
Marston’s had a clear vision to ‘bring social back’ to their pubs. To do this they looked into how having better information about their customers could help them ferment great relationships. And make them last longer than a couple of beers.
Over the course of just six weeks Marston’s matched website and email interactions to specific customer records for nearly 20,000 customers and recorded the anonymous activity for many, many thousands more. Previously these were all anonymous and untapped, so Marston’s were missing chances to understand those customers.
Then Marston’s made things more personal – for both the customers that remained anonymous and those that we matched to a customer record. If they browsed for a specific craft beer such as Wychwood on the Marston’s website, they would see features, offers and messages relevant for that beer.
The result: a response rate that was 6x larger, compared to watery default experiences.
Using different channels to build up a picture of customers meant Marston’s could begin to understand what they needed.
If a customer viewed a children’s menu on a pub page it suggested they had children (or a tiny appetite). Then they could approach them with more relevant information about children’s facilities or menus, rather than clumsily sending them generic offers.
Marston’s gathered thousands of customer insights which included children’s menu views, beer and pub preferences, customer locations and even sentiment based on feedback interactions. These were all linked to customer records, bringing them into sharper focus.
Even with such limited activity Marston’s were able to grab a huge amount of useful information and then take it even further. By paying attention when customers connected to the Marston’s Wi-Fi in their pubs, restaurants and hotels they could learn even more about their preferences and crucially join up the customer journey across their website, email and pubs. Furthermore, the captured data could work much smarter.
By measuring how customers reacted to the personalised emails sent to them, future marketing could be even more tailored to their habits. It would even allow their serving staff to make menu suggestions based on customer insights, like “We have some new pies today, for our dedicated pie fans.”
All this creates a bond with the customer that’s effortless for them – but enriches each visit to a Marston’s pub and makes them feel the brand knows exactly who they are and what they want.
Value to the customer means value to the brand. Engaging customers is all about creating value for both the brand and the customer. We’ve already talked about the value to the customer so what’s in it for Marston’s? Well, in addition to turning customers into fans, Marston’s found they’d easily connect with nearly 200,000 customers in a year.
For a huge return on their investment Marston’s would need to make just £3 extra from each of those customers. That’s one thirst-quenching pint per person – without even counting the extra meals, crisps and nuts.
With most companies striving to learn as much as they can about their customers, the cost of investing in customer engagement really is small beer compared to the value it brings.