Big data has made the entire world refocus on data at large and brought the single customer view (SCV) back on the agenda.
When attempting a SCV, organisations need to balance a range of issues from cross-departmental involvement and gaining business commitment, to intellectual property ownership and understanding different data sources.
Here are my top seven considerations when undertaking a SCV project.
1. How will you gain access to all the data sources?
Different data sources are owned by different departments and are often held with a third party. Getting access to the data, enlisting the help of someone who understands the data and planning to create the data feeds are three of the many issues that you will encounter. Be sure that you have a visible plan in place that identifies ownership of the data and timelines for creation of the data feeds.
2. How do you get senior management and other departments to commit?
For senior management and budget sign-off, you need to take the time to prove the return on investment (ROI) on the SCV investment using case studies and awards. These help to convey the benefits that can be achieved as part of the SCV exercise.
The creation of the SCV will require input from sales, finance and operations as well as marketing, so don’t hold back. Get them involved. The sharing of cross-department data to achieve a holistic SCV is vital for accurate matching, enhancement and suppression of data. Understanding the database from the perspective of each business department is critical, so make the purpose and ownership of the SCV clear from the beginning.
3. Choose a ‘fixed price’ or ‘agile’ development
Most organisations will be concerned about project creep and losing control of costs on large SCV initiatives. If you choose a fixed-price model, you need to front-load a lot of assessment and planning to accurately determine price and timeline. It is often difficult for IT projects to estimate accurately beyond six to 12 months however, and so agile development is often considered a more flexible and quicker way to deliver key elements during two- to four-week sprints.
4. Don’t invest in the SCV unless you own it
All too often organisations discover they do not own the intellectual property of their SCV after having invested in a three-year contract. The SCV is only as good as the matching and loading rules, so make sure that the SCV you pay for belongs to you totally. That means when your contract ends, you can take your SCV – all the code, data loading and matching rules – with you.
5. Consider the requirement for real-time and social data
Be realistic about the volume of data being fed into the SCV database. Adding every piece of web and social data can cause problems, so you need to work out what information is and is not useful for your marketing campaigns. Your SCV is not a data warehouse or big data exercise.
It is also important to properly consider your need for real-time. For instance, basket abandonment emails sent 24 to 48 hours after the event can be far more effective than a real-time response. In online gaming, however, we find that sending messages in real-time helps to keep a customer playing longer.
Real-time capability on millions of rows of customer and transaction data will add considerably to your costs and therefore needs proper consideration before adding to the specification.
6. Know your essential data sources
It sounds obvious but when building a SCV, you are creating a marketing database that contains only one record for every customer. There are three essential data sources:
Customer name and contact information: there are challenges to look out for that should be factored into the scheme, such as the fact that some families and couples use the same email address.
Transactional data: this enables marketers to spot purchase trends and run campaigns based on how recent they are, their frequency and value data.
Communication history: closing the loop with multichannel campaign response history informs your campaigns further for segmentation exercises.
In addition, it can be good to link to third-party data sources, such as Call Credit or the UK Business Universe, to enhance your SCV data with affluence or turnover, depending on your customer type. Suppression information from Royal Mail or the telephone preference service are also useful data feeds to have included as part of your matching processes.
7. Know your customer
In the consumer market, defining a customer is usually more straightforward. However, in the B2B market determining the customer can be more complex.
Getting the customer definition right before embarking upon the SCV development is critical.
If you start with a realistic budget that can demonstrate the value of the SCV in improving customer engagement and conversion, this makes it easier to build a case for additional budget and expansion later on. In many cases, just the sole benefit of the removal of duplicates from your customer relationship management can demonstrate enough ROI to fund the SCV.
Do not try to change the world. Selling yourself short in the early stages can result in you facing an uphill battle for getting cross-department buy-in and the gravitas you need.
SCV development offers excellent self-promotion opportunities to improve the marketing profile of a business; making others realise that marketing is taking on an ever more critical and powerful role.