A single customer view? It’s both beautiful and hard to get.

A crop of new studies highlight the challenges faced by marketers in turning their cross-channel data into actionable insights. Marketers want to tie their data together to better know and communicate with their customers—but they’re not there yet.

Here’s what marketers are saying:

  • 89% of respondents to an Experian study released this week said they have challenges in creating a single customer view. That’s a problem, because a single view of the customer helps marketers personalize communications, make promotions more relevant, and create more targeted media buys.
  • “No single customer view” emerged as the most common cross-channel barrier (32%) in the Experian study. Other major challenges? Their companies’ current technology and organizational structure and barriers in understanding customer behavior.
  • 9% of respondents to a Direct Marketing Association/Winterberry Group study agreed that connecting customer data across silos is a high priority for their organization.
  • 5% of marketers in the DMA study said that integrating new technology with their existing tools has been challenging.

These findings support Signal’s research, which found that just 6% of marketers have a single view of the customer. 57% of those surveyed said that unifying fragmented profiles was among their biggest challenges to attaining a single view.

All of this adds up to a watershed moment for marketers.

The promise for marketers to truly know their customers (at scale!)—and understand them as people, not just lines in database—has never been greater. Customer data and identities are fragmented, leading to confusion, missed opportunities, and impersonal or inconvenient communications.

These are big hurdles, and this problem is precisely what Signal solves for our clients. Signal connects data from any source, to any source (in real time, no less), so that you can create actionable, dynamic customer profiles—and finally attain that unified view of the customer.

Bob the family man just bought a minivan? Signal can connect this offline data to his online profile instantly, so that marketers will stop showing him ads for cars and emailing him about a dealership sales event. (And start showing him ads for road trip destinations, instead.) Effective cross-channel marketing should look smart, timely, and effortless.

In this era of wildly proliferating data and sky-high consumer expectations, what really matters is connecting your data to create a holistic understanding of the customer. Because big data without insights creates more problems than it solves.


Originally published June 10, 2015

Laurel Wamsley

Laurel Wamsley was the Marketing and Communications Manager at Signal, and the editor of Signal's blogs. She worked previously at the University of Chicago, Rackspace, and NPR.

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