Overcoming the single customer view challenges

A selection of Experian experts give their views on all things marketing and big data. From data strategy to sophisticated segmentation. Follow them on @ExperianMkt_UK

In order to communicate with customers’ marketers need to fully understand them and treat them as individuals rather than multiple touch points. They must be viewed as one person who just happens to have an email address, a mobile phone, browses the internet and has a presence on multiple social networks. Marketers need to provide a seamless brand experience across these channels.

One of the corner stones of this cross-channel approach is the ability to have one single view of your customers – not disparate ones split by channel. Essentially, marketers need to have the ability to join up that email address, mobile number, address and social profile so that one picture of each individual is created. That way marketing channels can start working in tandem – complementing and supporting each other to provide as relevant and useful an experience as possible.

Most appreciate the need for such a Single Customer View (SCV) but it is a complicated and potentially painful process with numerous roadblocks and difficulties to overcome. In our recent Digital Marketer Survey of more than 1,000 marketers worldwide, 89 per cent of respondents admitted they are having difficulty creating a SCV.

The top three challenges

The survey respondents highlighted poor data quality (cited by 43 per cent of marketers) as the top challenge to creating a SCV, followed by siloed departments (39 per cent) and the inability to link different technologies (37 per cent). We need to take a deeper look at how marketers are struggling with each of these challenges and understand how you can start to overcome them

  • Poor data quality

Data quality is critical to marketing efforts. Without accurate and reliable data an SCV simply won’t be possible. Before you start working towards achieving an SCV you must make sure your data is in a good place. Consider these five steps:

1. Get involved in the data collection process

Marketers need to understand how their customer data is collected. A high degree of inaccurate information can have a dramatic impact across the entire organisation. Therefore marketers should align with the data owners across their organisation to better understand the data-collection process and how it can be improved.

2. Encourage a central data-management strategy

Marketing should be an agent of change within an organisation. A central data-management strategy is the only way to make sure organisations have a single and complete view of each customer within their first-party data.

3. Find the right technology

The volume of data is so high that organisations can’t simply manage it with manual processes. They need technology to ensure accuracy of information and marketers need to take care in finding the right fit for their organisation.

4. Invest in analytical talent

The tools and skills for successful marketing have changed. Much depends on an analytical skillset to mine and analyse data. Be sure to invest in analytical talent to help understand key customers, marketing campaigns and response attribution better.

5. Monitor information over time

Data becomes out-dated quickly. It is important to monitor information over time to ensure its on-going accuracy.

  • Siloed departments

A fully integrated marketing team is centred on the customer rather than a channel, taking a progressive approach to meeting the demands of the modern day consumer. The team should be aligned by persona and be responsible for marketing to that customer segment regardless of channel. A marketing team broken out by channel on the other hand, consists of separate teams — email, mobile, social, website, etc. — each executing and measuring performance individually. This does not lend itself to a customer-centric outcome.

So how do you move towards a fully aligned approach? The best piece of advice is not to feel overawed by what may seem like a complete overhaul when there are some simple steps you can take:

  • Combine teams when planning a campaign
  • Always include more than one channel on every campaign
  • Involve your data team in your customer journey planning
  • Inability to link different technologies

With more channels come more technologies. Different channel teams will be using different technologies to communicate with their customers. How do marketers join those together? It’s a tough one.

The key drive here has to be done alongside breaking down the silos and it involves transitioning all communications into one location. How can you treat customers as individuals rather than individual touch points if the communications you are sending out are not connected and co-ordinated from a single location? Your data needs to be joined up and so does your technology.

This is again a large project so start as above by ensuring your KPIs and teams are aligned and then start considering how to join up your tech. Most of all marketing technology needs to be considered as a strategic asset and decisions on what is required and what isn’t need to be taken on a strategic level.

Achieving a Single Customer View

A Single Customer View won’t come over night. The best advice would be to break your larger problems down into smaller manageable chunks. Find the most engaged channels and look to pair them together first. A Single Customer View doesn’t have to be all in one place, it could start with just sharing what you know of your customers on two or more channels.

Data remains the mainstay of creating a Single Customer View. Without a winning strategy and the right technology for collecting, linking and managing all the structured and unstructured data coming into an organisation today, brands will not be able to create customer experiences that will hold the attention of today’s cross-channel consumers.

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