With marketing technologies growing ever more powerful, many companies are deploying the latest tools to personalize marketing or make ad spending more efficient. There’s no question that new digital technologies allow marketers to approach customers with surgical precision, unlike the blunter instruments of just five years ago. But the rush to invest in new technologies designed to boost the return on investment (ROI) of a single purchase or channel often misses the foundational goal of knowing who your target customers are, what they’re worth to the firm and how they behave. If a customer has a high potential lifetime value, it’s worth pulling out the spending stops to persuade him or her to make a first purchase with the brand, which, of course, would likely hurt short-term ROI. Without that perspective, companies might waste money acquiring low-value customers or targeting prospects who are unlikely to make a purchase.

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