Whether your customers are business clients or consumers, taking advantage of the data you have about their journeys contributes to better service and improved customer experiences.
The results of bringing the data into better organization, stitching together customer profiles from different touchpoints using a CDP, for instance, can bring tangible growth in ROI. (See DMN’s recent case study of DTC petcare brand Barkyn.) Marketers see the value in rounding up this data, but of course there are obstacles.
According to Andy Dubickas, VP, Global Solutions Consulting, Nielsen: “The first thing that comes to mind is the importance and usefulness of customer level data.” He added, “Customer level data is becoming more protected, and there is going to be less of it available. Brands need to figure out: how can I get my hands on this incredibly important data and use it to my advantage? It’s becoming harder to do so.”
Sure, the availability of data is hampered by regulations and distrust from users about sharing it with certain third parties. This is one reason why there are so many vendors in the space to assist data-driven marketing. Making sense of the data coming in from existing customers is another matter, drawing from first party and “zero party” data.
Dubickas said, “From a data and analytics perspective, it’s meaningful and important for advertisers to diversify their data strategy. When I talk to marketers about this, I recommend that they don’t limit themselves to one data provider or one partner. There are a ton of vendors that can provide you with interesting data and help you to organize that data in a meaningful way. I encourage people not to think about a single-thread strategy but a multi-tenant strategy where they can take advantage and have partnerships and data access with best-of-breed providers.”
One major obstacle from any marketer’s standpoint, at brands big or midsize, is the amount of data governed by the “walled gardens,” like Google and its ad network. Nielsen’s SVP, Product Marketing, Andrea Lipstein, explained, “Making sure you have measurement across the walled gardens is essential. We’re in a situation where very big digital and media companies have a lot of data and a lot of metrics. They’re using data and metrics to tell really good stories about their own brands and their own audiences. For marketers advertising on all or many of these channels, it’s important to have an independent body that is grading all of these companies on an even playing field so that you can make an apples-to-apples comparison.”
Lipstein also emphasized the importance of contextual data. Marketers need to understand the link between the customer and the channel or device.
“What marketers need to make sure of when they are looking at measurement strategies and measurement providers is that their measurement is person-based,” she said. “Given all of these devices and different ways to link people, it’s not about just understanding how many devices are being used. It’s really making sure you know the link between the person and all the devices they’re using so that you can understand in a deduplicated way the behavior that one person has.”
Chris Hodges, VP of Customer Experience and Digital Solutions for J.D. Power points to the new analytics tools that help marketers think outside the way they usually map the customer.
“To prepare, adapt, adjust and respond to the always on multi-modal, multi-channel customer marketers must move beyond the traditional constructs of journey mapping,” Hodges said. “New analytics tools exist to help marketers not only understand the customer journey as it happens, but also dynamically adjust and provide proactive information to those customer facing employees who can most impact the customers experience within live journeys.”
He added, “By understanding what came before for that customer, and on which channels, leveraging journey analytics, marketers and customer experience professionals can gain a strategic advantage to those using old methods.”
In the data arms race, don’t count out the impact of the AI revolution in this area.
“It’s true that the customer journey is growing increasingly complex, and that trend is likely to continue into the 2020s and beyond,” said Yaniv Masjedi, CMO of customer experience solution Nextiva. “To keep up, the only viable option for any marketing team, regardless of size, is going to be upskilling in the use of artificial intelligence and automation. Chatbots and other forms of AI can help your team keep up with and lead score inquiries from the same customer across different touch points. These tools are not meant to replace customer service representatives and marketing team members, but instead funnel leads to the appropriate contact.”