For many brands today, data has become the most valuable asset, and marketers are equipped with a variety of ways to collect it – from social media listening tools to in-store data, CRM software, call centres, mobile usage, web analytics and third-party sources. There is a wealth of data at their disposal.
Although data-driven marketing offers exciting, new opportunities for brands, there are numerous challenges and obstacles that can hamper a marketer’s ability to succeed. We carried out research with 85 marketers asking them to vote for their biggest data challenge from the following three common pain points:
- Getting data fast enough to act
- Data in legacy systems – no single or unified customer view
- Generating insights from your data
This article will explore these three pain points and look at how digital marketers can mitigate these challenges in their pursuit to deliver a more customer-centric, cross-channel approach.
Getting data fast enough to act
Having a lot of data is inconsequential – it is the quality of the data and how you choose to use it that counts. The third most common data challenge for respondents was ‘Getting data fast enough to act’ (22%).
The digital world has made consumers impatient. They want immediate gratification and fast responses. Marketers are under pressure to offer speed at scale and deliver faster business models so that they can react instantly to changing customer behaviours. The focus on speed has changed everything – not only do brands offer same-day deliveries, but they must also move at the speed of culture – with activity such as positive or negative sentiment on social media forcing brands to get in the fast lane.
Brands that want to connect with modern customers need to use data at scale and at speed, and to do that they must digitise the entire customer life cycle and collect data at each touchpoint. However, data gathered in different stages of the customer life cycle is one of the reasons that internal silos keep being created.
For brands to become technologically and socially agile, they are joining forces with smart technology partners that offer digital and consumer marketing expertise and fast dashboard reporting aligned to relevant data as it comes in.
Generating insights from your data
There was a time when marketers relied on their gut feeling when making decisions. Today, the data is there but access to it is difficult, meaning marketers are not happy.
The second most common data complaint was being able to generate meaningful business and consumer insights (32%). This suggests that while marketers are inundated with data from numerous sources, they are struggling to extract empirical evidence and actionable information to drive decisions and create meaning from it.
Data becomes valuable only when it is translated into actionable insight. However, the sheer volume of data acquired means that many of the insights that could be extracted are going untapped.
The key to dealing with these issues is having a clear understanding of what you want to get from your data. Savvy marketers are finding ways to collect behavioural data from interactions and then extrapolate insights to improve the customer experience. This data challenge is often alleviated by balancing data with insights and technology.
Various marketing tools and technology solutions exist that provide powerful analytics to unlock insights and deepen the brand relationship with customers.
Data in legacy systems – no unified customer view
Having data in legacy systems with no single or unified customer view was the most common response, with 46% of respondents citing this as their top pain point.
This is hardly surprising. The customer experience is becoming increasingly complex because of the proliferation of devices and channels; furthermore, organisational data is highly fragmented at several levels, leading to siloed data and duplicate customer records in different databases. This creates data quality challenges and disjointed marketing efforts as no one is fully responsible for the overall picture.
Consumers expect brands to have a complete picture of all their interactions with them and to use that information to tailor communications and make the buying process effortless. Brands therefore cannot overlook the importance of delivering an integrated experience and having a unified customer view. By integrating all available data about each customer into one single view, you can deliver an effective customer experience across all channels.
Being able to combine data gathered from all channels into a unified database will improve customer experience and maximise return. While technology can make this happen, companies also need to look at how they organise themselves and how to get siloed cross-functional teams to work together.
It is important to note that for many marketers having a unified customer view is not a realistic aim, as the financial and resource investment may not be justified.
Smart data builds relationships between the brand and the customer
Today’s customers manoeuvre across multiple channels, devices and networks, so it is vital that marketers find ways to create meaningful relationships with them.
All three of the data challenges discussed above are magnified by the flood of data now available, and each stems from brands wanting to provide customers with cross-channel interactions, however and whenever they choose. Thankfully these challenges are not insurmountable. More and more brands are tackling their data challenges by turning to data management platforms – designed to make sense of the vast volumes of data generated to deliver timely, relevant messages across every channel.
Marketers realise that to overcome data challenges they need to focus on real-time data connectivity and assemble data from multiple origins into a central hub. Cross-channel marketing technology platforms see through all the data, with some providing a comprehensive set of services that support enterprise marketers at scale.
The effective use of data is central to cross-channel marketing, and with the right technology marketers can have a holistic view and management of all their data – drawing insights from individual customer interactions with their brand to build better relationships with their customers.
Chini Ugboma is content marketing manager at Cheetah Digital