Marketers are now waking up to the harsh realities of giving their customer data away to resolve identity or leaving it trapped in a closed ecosystem. Saddled with fragmented customer views, incomplete measurement and no options to fully own customer relationships, many marketers are finding that building and maintaining long-lasting, loyal engagement is merely a pipe dream, turning their brand’s bottom line into a nightmare.
Customer data is a brand’s most valuable asset. When it’s connected across devices and channels and tied back to one holistic consumer profile, marketers are empowered with customer identity. They can deliver laser-targeted ads at known customers. They can personalize brand sites for 1:1 experiences. They can accurately measure marketing performance and close the loop on attribution. And it all fuels great experiences that drive customer loyalty and retention and reduce churn.
Many brands are renting third-party ID graphs in order to identify their customers across touchpoints. But marketers who want to create real long-term value and competitive advantage are building data assets that are owned and controlled by the brand itself. This means they are connecting their offline, historical CRM and POS data with digital data from ad-tech partners and streaming data from digital touchpoints.
By persisting all of a brand’s data — from the web, mobile, physical stores, contact centers, etc. — it becomes a durable asset that grows more robust with each customer interaction. And because it is owned and controlled by the brand, marketers can use it however and wherever they choose.
If you’re not thinking about building your own data asset, ask yourself:
1. Are you free to work with any partners you choose?
When a brand owns the keys to identity, it won’t miss key events in the consumer journey. Maintaining control at the identity layer gives marketers the flexibility to integrate with preferred partners, test new and emerging technologies and determine the best solutions without fear of losing any customer data. With consumer profiles that are constantly updating, brands don’t have to relearn who a customer is each time. This allows marketers to freely activate their data with relevancy and speed, using any partner or platform at critical moments throughout the buyer journey.
2. Are your partners giving you back all the data you need?
When customer data is shared with third parties, it may get trapped inside their vendor ecosystems. That means marketers can only understand a customer up until that point. When consumer connections are broken or missing, marketers don’t know how to relevantly speak to individuals at strategic stages in the customer lifecycle, from acquisition to retention to occasions to upsell or cross-sell. Only with complete access to user-level data can marketers close the loop on attribution, measure marketing performance and reduce ad waste. Knowing which investments are delivering the best results, brands can inform smarter marketing and media strategies to increase customer retention, loyalty and lifetime value.
3. Are you getting the most value out of your data?
A proprietary data asset can be used beyond marketing and across the enterprise to bring more value to the brand overall. It serves as the foundation for all consumer engagements across digital and physical channels alike. A deeper understanding of customers allows marketers to recognize where they are in their buyer journeys and enhance their relationships by solving their problems, anticipating their needs or simply delighting.
4. Do you really know how all your customer data is used?
Remember, these are your customers. They have entrusted your brand with personally identifiable information that’s yours — and yours alone — to own. You categorically know who these people are, how they think and how they behave. Marketers must control who accesses these insights and ensure it is done in a privacy-compliant way. Earning a customer’s trust is priceless to fostering long-term relationships. Breach it, and the buck stops with the brand. Literally.
5. Are you paying a toll for your data?
Some technology providers charge a brand to use its own data — and in my book, that’s highway robbery. For instance, vendors may levy a fee each time a marketer uploads the same customer data, while cumbersome data processing methods can lead to missed opportunities for engagement and sacrifices retention. By owning your data, you eliminate the data loss and high costs of working with multiple vendors.
Let’s face it, in today’s always-on marketplace, you snooze, you lose. That’s why more and more brands are seeking to take back ownership of their customer data. More than 30% of marketers are actively seeking alternatives outside of vendor-controlled identity solutions and closed media environments.
Marketers that remain reliant on third parties for customer insights will never be able to connect all the dots and create seamless 1:1 engagements at critical moments in a buyer’s journey. And that means they can most certainly put that relationship to rest.
Originally published April 28, 2017