Signal Use Case: How to Build a First-Party Data Network

Data is one of the last things marketers worry about – because it’s intangible. Even if it quadruples in size tomorrow, you probably won’t feel it. Marketers tend to focus on “real world” things: customers, products, ad impressions, dollars, and leads.

Yet this invisible stream of information just may be the greatest asset you have. Highly-quality data can help you drive more customers, sell more products, deliver better ads, and generate more dollars and leads.

Taking your own data seriously

What amazes me is that marketers are spending tens of millions of dollars every year on external audience data, when gigabytes of their own data is literally at their fingertips waiting to be harvested. Why buy apples from the supermarket when you have delicious, fresh apples on a tree in your backyard? 

Buying external data is easy. I certainly bought my share of it when I was an agency marketer. I could buy it right off the shelf without having to put the work in to pull the apples off the tree. 

There’s a lot of value in external data, but I believe the best strategy is to use all of your free, highly-accurate, first-party data first—and then supplement it with external data where it makes sense.

So, how are sophisticated marketers with tapping into their own valuable streams of information?

According to a recent study, many are still lagging. 76% of marketers surveyed don’t collect customer data at scale and of the 23% who do, less than half (46%) say that they have the pieces in place to be able to do anything with it. 

That means that only 1 in 10 marketers are leveraging their customer data as a true practice. 

Be your own audience vendor with Signal

The good news is that harvesting your apples isn’t so hard anymore. You don’t have to be a data scientist to harness and leverage your data. 

Signal’s platform allows you to:

Easily collect your customer engagement data from your online, offline, and mobile channels as it happens. When a customer clicks an ad, it’s an apple in the bucket. When a customer views one of your key website or mobile app pages, that’s another apple in the bucket. Anywhere your customers choose to engage with you, you can gather and act on that data in real-time.

Normalize and merge that data so that you get a complete, single view of each and every customer. As your customers move through your channels, they generate different IDs that can become a mishmash of fragmented profiles. Signal uses a Universal ID that blends those IDs together seamlessly so now you know when the same person clicked an ad, opened an email, or visited your mobile website. 

Syndicate your data and distribute it anywhere you need it to go. Think about what data syndication could mean for your business if you could slice and dice pieces (or send the entire data set) to any platform partner, analytics, or reporting system: Business intelligence. Attribution. Retargeting. Anyplace where your data could be useful…Signal can get it there. 

Signal’s mission is to help marketers better collect, connect, and act on your own data and integrate your existing technology investments so they work better together. 

Most importantly, our end-to-end real-time approach lets marketers use customer intent signals immediately as they happen. It’s not just about collecting data; if you don’t act on data quickly, the value of each signal decays rapidly. Marketers need to exploit every window of opportunity they have when a customer is ready and open to receiving their message.

If you’re going to build a first-party data practice, you must consider how important the time variable is, and how fast you will need to react to signals in order to maximize the value of your data.

Our current collection-to-activation reaction time across devices and channels is less than 50 milliseconds! That’s a central component of Signal’s solution that differentiates us from other data collection companies and DMPs.

Data collection is the first stop on the journey

Many marketers are already on the path to collecting customer data. But once they’ve climbed that mountain, they get to the top and realize that there’s a giant canyon on the other side they have to cross in order to make that data actionable. 

It’s fantastic to collect your data, but make sure you’ve thought through how you’re going to use it once it’s been collected.

Signal’s platform has hundreds of pre-built connections with the top platforms in the digital marketing industry. We can help you plan and build your own first-party data network. 

Now enjoy the apples!

Originally published September 10, 2014

Josh Dreller was formerly Director of Product Marketing at Signal.

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