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Aligning Data Strategies By Treating Experiences Like Products

June 1, 2022

This article was written by Matt Naeger, Chief Strategy Officer at Merkle.

Products often dictate the direction that brands take on many aspects of their business, including their data strategies. The entire organization is typically aligned on selling products to increase revenue, but, in 2022, customers are looking beyond the products. They are bringing their entire experience into play when making purchasing decisions.

Data is central in this new paradigm and its role has changed massively. Brands must evolve their data strategies and align to great customer experiences that create unique engagement opportunities across the purchase funnel. This will be the key to strengthening the connection between consumers and brands, before and after a sale.

Collecting New Data

Policies and legislation continue to change advertising and data collection as we know it. Yet, with the future still unknown, focus on what is certain: the value of first-party data. The right amount of investment will be determined based on many factors, including industry. Setting goals for acquisition, enrichment, and activation of data will lay the foundation.

Ask these crucial questions:

  • How will you use this data?
  • How will you acquire the data you need? Are you providing value to customers in exchange?
  • What data do you already have?
  • If customers aren’t willing to give you data, why is that?

Think of Experiences as Products

Another way to think about organizing your teams around customers’ values is to think of your brand’s experiences as products. Let’s say you have a great product demonstration on your site that drives a potential customer to ask a question. You will get data from this person in exchange, such as an email address, reason to buy, time of day, location, and inclination to purchase.

In this example, the product alone didn’t drive the value for your brand – the experience of the demo and timely and helpful responses to the customer’s questions did. If you build your teams to support these experiences, you will achieve the dialogue needed between you and your customers to derive value from every customer touchpoint.

Making New Connections

Building the desired customer experience requires a disciplined approach to examine not only how people experience your brand in their lives today, but also how you envision it be in the future. Identify the moments that matter and uncover gaps in the processes or technology needed to connect experiences. For example, a bank could look at a 23-year-old customer who just landed her first job out of college and write her off as a low-income individual. But, thinking holistically, in the next ten years, that same individual will likely need financing for a mortgage, upgraded car, IRA fund, and more.

Investment in cloud solutions will create new possibilities for real-time and two-way conversations with your audience. The cloud enables speed in dialogue and will shape the future of how data is utilized in your marketing programs. This offers simplistic and cost-friendly options to scale as you grow compared to expensive on-premises data storage options.

Understanding Your Customer’s World

Data holds clues to what your customers want from your brand. Your data analysis team should help unlock business-driving insights which could help develop a new product feature to target lapsed customers, improve messaging to reach a growing audience segment, or implement a new service offering exclusively for high-value customers.

Be clear about the fact that metrics are not insights. Insights come just as much from digging into the experiences of the customers you didn’t acquire as the ones you did. They require an understanding of what is happening in your customers’ world: which other companies are talking to them, their social dynamics, and how they are engaging with their communities.

Today’s marketer must redefine marketing measurement to incentivize insight development. What gets measured gets done.


first party data
Customer engagement
data strategy
Product data
product marketing