Breaking Down Data Silos and the Importance of a Single Customer View

May 11, 2018

AdobeStock_144455274-748889-editedThere are some vendors on the market claiming that the term "single customer view" is a myth; that you can't house every piece of customer data in one place. 

This is where we are going to have to agree to disagree.

When it comes to breaking down data silos and bringing all your customer data points into one place, achieving a single customer view that marketers can quickly and confidently act upon is a very real, and necessary, thing.

Why Data Silos Are Killing Your Marketing

It's a scenario we are all to familiar with: your marketing team wants to run a campaign targeting a segment of your customers - let's say those who browsed your website in the last 30 days but did not purchase. When data isn’t unified and is marketer-accessible, the first thing you must do is send a data request to your IT department. The IT team is likely busy putting out fires, or busy with a strategic project (i.e. re-platforming, ERP Migration, POS implementation, etc.) so your request could take several weeks. After a few weeks, when you have the data in hand, you can finally analyze it. What aspects of this data are going to drive your campaign? Which of these customers shop in-store vs. online? How valuable are these customers? What did they purchase in the past? What's their order count (i.e. non-buyers, 1x buyers, 2x+)? To answer these questions, you now need to hit up IT, wait for the results, upload, and analyze again.

Finally, after a few weeks, you have all the data you need from different departments and sources in one place, you have gathered your insights, and you are ready to run your campaign(s). You take your segmented customer lists, upload them to your CRM and send your promotion! But wait.... you're still not done. Now you need to pull metrics from your ESP, gather more transactional data from IT department and analyze your results. At best, this may take another few weeks before you can actually determine the effectiveness of just this one campaign. Not very time efficient or cost effective.

This scenario doesn't play out much better for company's using MSPs (in fact, we have a whole blog on why you should consider leaving your MSP). In order to get your data, analyze, glean insights, take action, and gather results, you are looking at several weeks and burning through a good chunk of your retainer.

What this all boils down to is lost opportunity due to organizational inefficiencies. In the several weeks (or months) it takes to work with multiple departments to get your data out of their silos, analyze, and ultimately take action, you are flushing potential revenue down the drain. The time wasted waiting for action could have been spent providing meaningful, relevant marketing campaigns and retargeting efforts – if only you had you achieved a single customer view in the first place by bringing your data out of their silos.

So, What's a Marketer to Do?

If the above scenario is striking an all-too-familiar chord, it may be time to start considering a customer data platform to unify your data. To inform your consideration, define your key use cases for which a customer data platform can make the biggest impact. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I want to know about my customers?
  • What type of experiences do I want to provide to my customers across which channels?
  • Where is the customer data coming from?

These key questions will drive your use cases to determine if your current process is serving the needs of your marketing team. However, potentially the single most important question you must ask yourself is:

  • Is my current process painful?

If the answer is yes, it may be time to start considering a CDP as a solution. For a more in depth analysis on whether or not your company is in need of a customer data platform, check out this paper from David Raab, founder of the Customer Data Platform Institute, where he goes into great detail about the features a CDP offers, and how to evaluate.

Single customer view is not a myth. Assuming you evaluate a CDP, make sure you understand how scale-able and configurable they can be (many immature vendors on the market). You may start with implementing certain data sources, in order to gain certain insights, and run certain campaigns, however as your data driven journey evolves you will need a partner that can grow with your data and use cases.