The arrival of a global pandemic to an already digital-first world has had a devastating impact on many bricks-and-mortar businesses. The same cannot be said of ecommerce. According to research released by IMRG, UK online sales growth hit a 13-year high at +36.6% year-on-year for 2020. Recent sales of major high-street names such as Debenhams, Topshop and Miss Selfridge to online-only retailers further illustrate how brands are answering a growing consumer demand for digital retail therapy.
So, what role does a customer insight manager job have to play in an ecommerce business’s growth? Here we will look at what a customer insights manager is, what they do, and what key skills they should nurture to ensure success. We will then explore the importance of this role within ecommerce, as well as sharing some insights around the current boom in customer insight manager jobs in the UK from our Principal Consultant in Analytics, Paul Culmer.
What Is A Customer Insight Manager?
The title of ‘Customer Insight Manager’ has been somewhat distorted over the years as the field has grown. With the expansion and evolution of Product Analytics, Advanced Analytics, Big Data and Data Science, more and more new job roles have surfaced to fill the gaps. This has meant that in recent years the role of ‘customer insight analyst’ has changed in terms of the specific skillset that a candidate would need for a particular role or company.
Broadly speaking, consumer insight managers answer “questions that arise when marketing new products” according to Marketing-Schools.org. By collecting and collating the right targeted data about consumers, customer insight managers can help a business to anticipate their customers’ needs. That way, they can better retain their current customer base as well as expand their reach.
The Role of a Customer Insight Manager
A customer insight manager role is as much as about being intuitive, personable, and commercially aware as it is about having the legitimate technical know-how.
Generally, a customer insight analyst or manager’s job is to look at and analyse trends. Being commercially aware of their market as whole is key, as they need to think outside the box and ask questions of the data they collect, to transform it into actionable insights for the business to grow.
As Marketing-Schools notes, it is by “sifting through market information, polling consumers, and finding niche areas in the marketplace” that Customer Insight Managers can help the marketers of the company “to base decisions on research-backed data points”. Working principally in market research, Customer Insight Managers aim “to discover target areas that help drive the [overarching] operational and creative strategies at a company.”
Every day, a customer insight manager will analyse the data they collect to give actionable insights to the marketing team (as well as other teams across the company), which in turn allows them to deliver communication messages to their customers that accurately respond to the current customer needs and demands.
What Key Skills does a Customer Insight Manager Need?
Foundationally, a Customer Insight Manager will typically come from a STEM background. This is usually attained via a broader degree such as Maths, or through a more specialized degree such as Data Science.
When it comes to putting this STEM background into action, a Customer Insight Manager must have SQL experience, and confidently know their way around the database. It is imperative that they can use SQL, and perhaps some other open-source tools such as Python. These tools—together with a visualisation tool such as Tableau or Looker—will be the tools used by a Customer Insight Manager on a daily basis.
Aside from the technical skillset, a Customer Insight Manager must also nurture softer skills such as communication and the ability to collaborate across teams creatively.
Paul Culmer—our Principal Consultant in Analytics—notes the importance of Customer Insight Managers having to cultivate a rounded balance of technical and softer skills when it comes to securing a placement.
“A customer insight analyst must be able to effectively manage stakeholders. Clear communication and having the ability to build relationships with different people across a company—whether that be across marketing, finance, HR or beyond—is key.
“Customer Insight Managers must be able to break the technical information down and communicate that in a non-technical way so everybody else across the business can understand it.
“They do need to have personable communication skills and the ability to deliver clear and concise information and insights surrounding the actions they provide from the data. If they have not got crisp communication skills, that would not be a good placement in this type of working environment”.
The Growing Importance of Customer Insight Managers within Ecommerce, and Today’s Demand For These Roles
Last year, the ONS reported that, during COVID-19’s first peak in May, “online sales as a share of total retail (excluding fuel) reached 33.8%.”
In a sector rife with competition, knowing your customers’ needs and anticipating what is on your potential customers’ radar is more important than ever. With such a huge array and quantity of brands competing for a user’s attention online, harnessing the data you have captured and translating this into actionable insights is critical for online success.
Paul Culmer, our Principal Consultant in Analytics notes that to keep up with the perpetually growing competition in the sector, the demand for Customer Insight Managers is rife. This is especially true across the sectors of gambling, food and lifestyle ecommerce sites.
“Right now, our clients are looking are people that are mathematically and technically strong—as well as being able to confidently use open-source tools alongside this good STEM background—for roles around the £50-60K mark (or a little bit higher).
Candidates that have worked for customer-related businesses and are strong in identifying trends, drilling down lots of data, and being able to turn that into insightful commentary when they are talking to people across the business are always in demand.”