As we have seen, email marketing is undergoing a sea change in response to the dramatically changing landscape where Big Data, the collapsed marketing funnel, and real-time marketing have come into play. Because segmentation, personalization and triggered email depend on understanding buyers, creating a comprehensive view of buyers has become a chief goal among marketers.
As David Raab explains, integrating data from multiple systems and multiple channels so interactions of the same individual are combined “is a critical capability…since all analysis is based on this unified customer view.”
Ecircle.com agrees, arguing that a 360-degree customer experience over all channels and personalized customer lifecycle messages will be crucial in 2013. Gaining extensive knowledge about the customer, says eCircle.com, “will be essential for all email marketers.”
And indeed, a host of studies support this view, showing that marketers see the creation of comprehensive buyer profiles as a top priority. Aberdeen Research, for example, reports that gaining knowledge of the customer to improve marketing performance through better segmentation and targeting “was the top strategic action cited by Leaders, with 44% intent on building a comprehensive (i.e. 360 degree) view of their customers.”
Likewise, a recent eMarketer study found that more than one-half of the respondents cited an interest in mining Big Data to develop a more fleshed-out online customer profile and an ability to put that profile to work.
How to Create Comprehensive Buyer Personas
To achieve a comprehensive view of customers and prospects, experts are advising marketers to break down the barriers between silos of information. For example, David Atlas, Strongmail senior VP of marketing, argues that “to effectively harness the power of Big Data, marketers need a way to integrate previously siloed data with little difficulty.”
Mark Cerullo, in discussing what Big Data means for today’s email marketer, also advises integrating information from different systems to capture, analyze, report and act on the intelligence you’ve collected.
For example, says Cerullo, by pooling your website, CRM data and email data, you can gain greater insight into your customers’ behaviors, likes, dislikes and buying patterns. This multichannel information, he explains, can be used to customize more relevant content and formulate smarter strategies for reaching and engaging your audience.
Also critical to achieving a 360-degree customer view is the ability to harness social media data. As Kipp Bodnar explains on HubSpot, savvy marketers will sync social media activity with their contact databases to have additional behavioral data to better segment email messages and calls-to-action, as well as leveraging social media behavior for improved content personalization that will lead to improved lead-to-customer conversion rates.
Deploying social media monitoring tools and triggered email systems that can respond to prospects’ activities in real time are key to success in this environment. As Ecircle.com explains, this is accomplished “by using real-time reporting and ad hoc reactions to actual and individual user behavior, advanced email analytics and extensive, automated testing methods.”
McKinsey analysts Peter Dahlström and David Edelman also see the combination of monitoring, unified information collection and real-time response as requirements for success in the era of on-demand marketing. By deploying tools that rapidly assemble databases of every customer contact with a brand, they argue, “companies will need to push every customer-facing function to work together and form an integrated view of consumer decision journeys.”
Data Quality Plays a Significant Role
Because bad data will undermine the effort to achieve a unified customer view, data quality plays a significant role. As Experian QAS reports, “Another trend lending urgency to data quality strategies is achieving a single customer view.” Experian QAS’s research found that 37 percent of organizations have a contact data-quality strategy to support a single customer view.
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