Direct marketing and advertising have converged. More data allows for refined and holistic personalization and marketers need solutions that will help them activate this data to achieve one-to-one personalization at scale. Yet, the platform possibilities are endless – from marketing clouds to walled gardens and customer data platforms (CDPs) there are nearly 7,000 players in the marketing technology space making it more difficult than ever for marketers to decipher what the right solution is to activate data and orchestrate successful multichannel marketing campaigns.
To cut through the noise and make better marketing investments, decision makers need to ask themselves these five questions:
1. What data works in my industry and my business?
There’s no shortage of data available to better understand customers, but it’s not just about having all that data at your fingertips. In fact, according to the Winterberry Group only 6.7% of marketers are fully satisfied in their ability to use data across channels. As data levels increase it’s equally important you understand the data that matters most to your business and that you have the right mix of data to accurately build customer profiles and activate those insights across channels.
Still, self-reported data doesn’t always tell the whole truth. I might tell Netflix I like period dramas and thought-provoking documentaries, but I actually watch a lot of comedies.
Attitudinal consumer data that comes from surveys, product reviews or preferences is a powerful way to understand the emotions behind your customers. But this data can be difficult to gain insight into depending on your industry. For example, retail and travel brands can offer engaging loyalty programs to survey customers, set up preference centers and incent reviews. Meanwhile, CPG companies, which often lack a direct relationship with their customers, may not benefit from a full scope of attitudinal data.
Perhaps more powerful is “what I do” data, which comes from point of sale systems, email engines and ad servers. Because this data is the result of actual actions by customers it can be more concrete in determining results and it’s available to most brands. However, this data can become stale if it’s not paired with attitudinal data. If a customer is not interacting on your website and engaging in an email you need attitudinal data to be able to understand what will re-engage them.
The right mix of data for your business will require first, second and third-party insights.
2. Is my data centralized to drive the biggest impact?
Understanding the data that is most important to your business is only the first step. For data to have an impact on helping you better know and understand your customers it needs to be centralized. A recent study found that more than six in ten marketing executives use anywhere from six to twenty marketing technologies, which can create data silos and disconnected platforms. Data from these tools and technology needs to be centralized across all systems, channels and external sources to drive the biggest impact.
Centralizing data requires you to have a tightly centered view of customers through PII-based identity resolution, like purchase history and email engagement, and non-PII digital behavior, like media impressions and site visits. Starting with strong customer identity will fuel everything that happens in downstream marketing from reaching the right customers on the right devices to measuring what works.
3. How do I deal with overlapping functionality between platforms?
It’s easy to understand how some of your platforms have overlapping functionality. Each team requires different features and functions. But layered platforms don’t yield the reach they need and as a result there’s a lot of spend trying to reach the wrong customers. The first step is identifying which features or functions are duplicated across platforms and how to do they work together.
4. Do I have a transparent view into my customers across online and offline engagements?
You need to be where your customers are, which means you are likely managing and onboarding data across dozens of platforms and “walled gardens” like Facebook and Snapchat. While walled gardens present you with more opportunity to reach your customers it also leaves you at a disadvantage preventing you from gaining end-to-end visibility into which of your customers were actually reached.
5. Can I measure to validate programs?
If you are able to answer the above questions you will be in the most optimal position to measure and validate programs. Centralized data, integrated technology and a transparent view of your customers are all required to identify which marketing touchpoints were the most influential to sale. Your measurement capabilities should also provide you with actionable insights that allow you to improve overtime and maximize your return on marketing investment.
With endless technology and partner options in the marketing technology ecosystems it’s easy to try and boil the ocean. To be successful stay focused on what works in your industry and for your business. Asking yourself these five questions will help you cut through the noise to make better marketing investments.
Prior to joining Epsilon, Carl worked Citi, where he first started applying his technical know-how to solving marketing challenges.Carl studied Computer Science at the University of North Texas after moving to the Dallas/Fort Worth.