Experian Marketing Services recently released a study that aimed to identify the biggest opportunities and barriers marketers face.
The study, entitled, “2015 Digital Marketer Report,” polled 1,000 global marketers and placed heavy focus on how customer data is collected and used. The research highlights several key marketing issues businesses currently face, including the inability to attain the highly coveted “single customer view.”
What is a ‘single customer view’?
A single customer view (SCV) is the result of aggregating all customer interactions and communication across all channels and converting it into one single record per customer. This single record is believed to allow businesses to use the data collected to interpret, analyze and present it in a meaningful way.
• Shows how customers interact with a business
• Provides opportunity to improve customer retention levels
• Gives insight to help increase conversion rates
• Highlights ways businesses can improve customer engagement
• Offer ways to potentially make increased accurate business decisions
“Having one single record means you can get a better understanding of your customers, meaning marketing can be more targeted because you know their last touchpoints and interactions with your organization,” says Experian Data Quality.
Many believe achieving SCV can be used to improve customer experiences and give the ability to provide higher degrees of personalization. It is a metric many businesses have been trying to capture for some time, however, according to the Experian study, is quite elusive for most. According to the findings, a whopping 89 percent of marketers admitted they are having difficulties getting a single customer view.
Only 24% of marketers have achieved SCV
While marketers are generally in agreement SCV is important, few have overcome the challenges involved in achieving it. In Experian’s poll, participants were asked if they’d achieved SCV and only 24 percent said they had reached this goal.
Globally, the inability to attain SCV is believed to be “the biggest barrier they faced to adopting a cross-marketing marketing strategy.” The findings in the United States and Canada were a bit different, stating organizational structure was the biggest obstacle to having a cross-channel strategy (38 percent). But obtaining SCV was still up there for North America where 31 percent of marketers ranked SCV as being a barrier to their cross-channel strategies.
Experian’s results support earlier findings defining the problems marketers are facing.
Bad data is a growing problem
In a separate earlier study, Experian said it found 26 percent of marketers believe their data is inaccurate (in the U.S. this number jumps up to 32 percent), and this figure has been growing every year. With data accuracy going in the wrong direction, clearly something is not working. Bad data isn’t going to provide the right customer snapshot B2Bs (and B2Cs) want.
According to Experian’s study results, bad data tops the list of the primary factors currently holding marketers back from achieving SCV:
• Bad data (43 percent)
• Siloed departments (39 percent)
• Lack of relevant technological infrastructure (37 percent)
• Inability to link technologies (34 percent)
Organizational resistance to change is another problem cited by marketers. This is a common problem in any type of organization, but for B2Bs, can equate to success or failure if there is too much resistance and innovation is lacking. Past successes are great, but these don’t necessarily secure a future.
“Achieving single customer view is a key step in the right direction, but fully optimized cross-channel marketing is still the Holy Grail for marketers around the globe. The in-depth process required in setting up a strategy presents a range of hurdles, and there are other important issues to overcome in the process,” said Simon Martin, Experian Marketing Services, UK in a press release. “It takes entire companies working together to get a better understanding of their customers and to plan an engagement strategy that will resonate uniquely with each customer at every point of interaction.”
Companies can look to get ahead of the curve by pinpointing issues and making adjustments in how customer data is collected.
What can B2Bs take away from these studies?
Many companies have spent efforts collecting massive amounts of data, but are they collecting the right data? According to a piece published by the Canadian Marketing Association, the chances are good that most companies have plenty of data, too much in fact. The problem is processing it.
B2Bs can learn from these studies by assessing the findings to better identify any issues they might be experiencing in their own organizations. There is no one-size-fits all approach – B2Bs need to focus on their own business objectives and determine which data supports it before seeking a tech solution.
The Canadian Marketing Association recommends businesses:
• Define their business objectives
• Choose a tactic and identify the right data points
• Develop methods for better data collection and delivery
The key is not to focus on volume, but on quality when it comes to data.
“Data remains the mainstay of creating a complete customer view. Without a winning strategy and the right technology for collecting, linking and managing all the structured and unstructured data coming into an organization today, brands will not be able to create customer experiences that will hold the attention of today’s omnichannel consumers,” the study authors wrote.