Most marketers know by now that customer data—collecting and applying it—is central to generating positive results for the business.
As always, though, the devil is in the details: It's not enough to collect data, put it into a database, and hire some data scientists (if you can find them) to make some sense of it.
Recent research in the Harvard Business Review enumerated some of the misconceptions about customer data. The authors noted some hidden challenges:
The point is this: Customer-data strategies require deep thinking, multiple strategies, and patience. Even if the latest, greatest analytics system was on your wish list, you'd only just be dipping a toe in the water.
For 2017, you should consider the following tactics to get more value from the customer data you are collecting.
Increasingly, companies don't suffer from a problem of having too little data. The greater challenge is how to qualify and simplify the right data and then make it actionable.
Companies have many systems housing customer data, all with different structures, functions, and owners. At some point down the line, someone created an Excel file (or 20) about customers, dumping in data sets from different systems, such as CRM, customer service, and order management. Although Excel is useful as a band-aid for integrating data, it's completely inadequate to support real-time marketing campaigns.
Keep the Excel file, by all means, but look for a modern data management platform that allows your company to provide easy access to data and reporting by different stakeholders and channels. The platform should allow you to easily merge new data and automatically assign standard data fields and structure, rather than force you to reconcile to a unique structure in every system. Such a platform will bring you much closer to a single version of the truth, and you can use it for segmenting users and launching campaigns with a high degree of accuracy and quality.
The phrase "user experience" has long been associated with software design and navigation. But now our notion of user experience is expanding to include a personalized and highly relevant experience on a website or mobile app—or any digital interaction with a company.
The more recent customer data a company has, the better user experience it can deliver. Case in point: boutique eyewear provider Raen Optics. It has invested considerable resources into developing a beautifully designed website, but once the company began to add customer data to the mix, the website became even more effective. Now, as visitors click through the site, they see eyeglass frame recommendations and personalized calls to action that build on visitors' very recent actions.