The true value of customer data lies in its ability to provide context. This can only occur when that data is connected across silos. Unfortunately, 85 percent of marketers are unable to unify online and offline customer data, according to a study by Conversant. Further, only 15 percent of marketers in the study are confident that they know their customers well based on unified online and offline behavioral and purchase data.
This lack of customer knowledge blocks marketers from reaching their full potential in terms of personalizing communications and driving revenue. Additionally, having extensive data locked inside functional and system-specific silos hampers productivity. Only 51 percent of marketers polled by Forbes Insights say they frequently make sufficient use of data in their marketing decisions. Of those, 59 percent say their marketing initiatives exceed their goals.
To draw the full value that customer data can provide, marketers must resolve three central challenges: data access, data analytics, and data activation. Doing so will create a connected data value chain – a direct path from connected customer data to increases in marketing performance and revenue.
Challenge #1 – Data Access
Businesses have an overabundance of data stored in myriad siloed systems. To unlock the value of that data, marketers need more than just access to it in its existing silos. They need connected data that will provide the context necessary to optimize customer outreach, and they need access to that connected data in real time so they can meet, and even surpass, customers’ expectations. Currently, just 24 percent of marketers use real-time customer activity to tailor their digital marketing, according to the Conversant study.
Most companies need their many data siloes to support specific functional areas. So, creating one massive store for customer data is rarely the ideal solution. Instead, data-savvy companies use technologies that bridge those siloes to create a holistic view of the customer. These technologies pull data from relevant sources based on the specific information or insight marketers need, when they need it.
As helpful as those tools may potentially be, they’re only useful if marketers can access them directly for connected, real-time insights. It’s essential to find tools built not just for data scientists and data analysts, but also for business users. Sixty-three (63) percent of marketers polled in the Forbes Insights study say that access to connected data provides them with greater insight into the customer experience across channels, which, in turn, allows them to craft strategies that convert this understanding into positive results.
An equally important aspect of data access is data quality. Marketers should have access to data that is complete, consistent, and current. This starts with creating systems and processes that block bad data from getting into their systems in the first place. It also includes repairing existing data by cleansing, appending, and deduping it. And, it necessitates data governance.
Challenge #2 – Data Analytics
Once marketers have access to connected, real-time data, they need the know-how and tools to conduct the right analyses. In some cases, these analyses should be predictive (e.g., what are customers likely to do). According to Forrester Consulting, 54 percent of marketers polled have adopted predictive and real-time analytics to optimize next best actions.
In other cases, the analyses are descriptive (e.g., measuring campaign performance). Currently, according to the Conversant study, only 18 percent of marketers capture “actionable measurement” to support their digital marketing goals; just 35 percent measure online and offline sales and 34 percent measure the impact of each channel independently, based on click data.
Yes, there are times when marketers should hand the reins to a data scientist or analyst. But there are also times when marketers can get the most value from data by having the ability to analyze the relevant data themselves – especially when they need to get and act on insight in real time.
Getting the most from data analytics means that marketers can use their connected data to resolve identities, and view items such as conditions, variables, and events that give context beyond basic customer profiles. It’s this context that allows marketers to improve the results of their predictive analyses, support their prescriptive analyses, and optimize their marketing performance.
Marketers need access to tools that provide them with access to connected, real-time data if they are to conduct the types of contextual analyses that will enable them to squeeze the maximum value from their customer data. But, according to the Conversant study, 75 percent of marketers don’t have the technology, or don’t use it effectively enough, to deliver one-to-one digital marketing.
Challenge #3 – Data Activation
Consumers want information in an instant, but that doesn’t mean their next action is a purchase. With the buyer’s journey looking more like the path of a bumble bee than that of a jet liner, marketers need to be able to respond to customers’ interests and behaviors in the moment. Only access to connected, real-time data can enable this in a way that will allow marketers to deliver the optimal, contextually relevant message at the best time to individual consumers through their preferred interaction channel.
Unfortunately, nearly half of marketers (46 percent) struggle to understand customers’ interactions across channels, according to Forrester Consulting. Yet, 44 percent say that responding to customer interactions with speed and relevance is critical to the future success of their marketing programs.
Marketers aiming to capitalize on the consumer’s moment of need – and, in the process, get the most value from their customer data – require processes and technologies that can support a real-time approach to marketing. Marketers need to rethink their processes, including adding more automation, so they are structured to respond to customers’ actions in real time. And, they need technologies that not only provide a holistic view of customers, but also enable business users to conduct the analyses they need to act in real time. However, only 49 percent of marketers have adopted technologies that “activate customers with in-line decisioning at digital touchpoints,” the Forrester Consulting study finds.
The Connected Data Value Chain
Marketers who clear these three hurdles – data access, analytics, and activation – are the ones who can create a connected data value chain. Business-user-friendly technology, clean data, and agile processes are essential links in that value chain. Without them, marketers lack access to the contextual data that enables them to meet customers at their moment of need.
Being where customers are with contextually relevant messaging is the optimal way to maximize the value of customer data. Yet, only 36 percent of marketers say that generating customer insights through analytics and data mining is critical to the future success of their marketing campaigns, according to the Forrester Consulting study. This presents an opportunity for data-savvy marketers who maximize the value of their connected customer data to outperform their competitors. Now is the time to get connected.