*this article first appeared on Oracle's Modern Marketing Blog.
The best cross-channel marketers have data in their DNA. They understand which levers to pull in order to optimize spending and maximize returns. But in all the mechanics, a marketer’s relationship with the customer can easily get lost. So how to avoid this? Let's explore how enterprise marketers are overcoming this challenge by:
- Understanding how marketers got into this mess in the first place.
- Evaluating the current “customer data platform” trend.
- Looking at successful strategies from an enterprise retailer.
How We Got Here
If you’re old enough to remember the pre-digital era, you probably also remember its simplicity. It was a time when interactions were in person – for example, someone working in a corner store could truly know each customer because they literally knew each customer. By knowing each customer, store clerks could easily ask the right questions, offer the right products, and provide the right experience for each individual.
But the digital age complicated this dynamic. More channels offer more opportunities for interaction, but they also offer more opportunities to fail at delivering a good customer experience. And faced with overwhelming amounts of data that all too often lives in silos, marketers until now have limited their efforts to a more manageable scope of marketing within those silos. But today’s sophisticated marketers are seeking, and finding, methods that bring them closer to applying the pre-digital idea of 1:1 marketing across a multi-channel marketing ecosystem.
Rise of the Customer Data Platform
The recent rise of the customer data platform illustrates how urgent this challenge is for marketers today. Coined by analyst David Raab in 2013 and appearing on the Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising last July, customer data platforms (CDPs) are different from other data solutions in that CDPs are manageable by marketers (not IT), CDPs give a unified, persistent database for all first party data, and CDPs are fully accessible by external systems.
But not all CDPs are created equal. According to the Customer Data Platform Institute, only a CDP that also provides the following capabilities will meet the needs of an enterprise cross-channel brand (so do your homework if you’re shopping for CDPs):
- Data quality and identity management
- Online and offline data integration
- Analytics and machine learning
- Data actionability
Lessons from a Retailer: Prioritizing Authentic Engagement
Marketers who unify customer data into a clean, actionable profile are continuously discovering more ways they can leverage customer data to improve engagement. For example, a premium athletic and yoga lifestyle company is founded on authentic local experiences. They wanted to apply this foundational principle to all the ways they engage with customers – from in-store classes and workshops to their entire digital ecosystem.
The retailer started by unifying as many data sources as possible into a single customer profile. Their customer data platform integrates transaction, engagement, and event data from sources that include web properties, store systems, offline systems, orders and returns, product hierarchy and availability, mobile apps, email profiles, and DMP audience data (to name a few). This data is cleansed, deduped, enriched, and stitched into a single customer ID that connects back into and enhances the retailer’s marketing cloud. This process is touching and improving every part of their customer ecosystem, including:
- Email marketing. The retailer was able to improve identification of customers coming to the website via email. No matter what browser or device a customer uses, the personalize experience from email click to website is seamless.
- Enhanced web personalization. Personalized messaging now has a greater impact because targeting segments are enhanced with unified customer profile data.
- More impactful Facebook marketing. The retailer is using Facebook to re-engage non- purchasers, and to target based on specific criteria such as product details, volume, and markdown events.
- Geo-targeted advertising. By knowing where a customer physically resides, the retailer can make sure they don’t offer irrelevant items to people who live in the wrong climate (e.g., don’t offer puffy coats to customers who live in Florida).
- Better call center experiences. When call center agents are equipped with a single view of the customer, they are able to resolve issues faster and with greater customer satisfaction.
- Enhanced DMP audiences. Enhancing DMP audiences with a single customer profile enables more effective advertising and more accurate ad suppression.
- In-store clienteling. Armed with a single view of the customer, store associates can create customized in-store experiences.
And the results of these initiatives? This retailer was able to grow sales by 15%, increase attendance to local events by 25%, and increase site visits by 50% -- and that’s just the beginning.
Building genuine customer relationships that have meaning and relevance across all channels is the foundation of today’s marketing. By starting with customer data and moving out from there, marketers can positively impact all areas of the business.
Today’s consumers are more demanding than ever before. They want experiences that are personalized, relevant, and consistent—whether they’re interacting with your company online, in-store, or on the phone.
Download Cross Channel Orchestration Fundamentals to learn how you can deliver the most meaningful, positive, and consistent customer experiences across all channels that enhance loyalty and deliver results.