The golden rule of business hasn’t changed–knowing your customer is more important than ever. Before the digital revolution, this meant knowing the people who visited your store, banked at your branch or bought a car from your dealership. But the way we live, work, communicate and entertain ourselves has transformed. People now live digitally.
As a result of our digital lives, marketing has never been more competitive or more challenging. We want to deliver relevant, consistent experiences–and today's savvy consumers expect it. Yet the volume of data and channels to manage, along with high expectations from people who engage your brand, make knowing your customer complex ... and as crucial as ever.
Today, the only way to know your customer is through data and technology. There is no alternative. But with data existing across many technologies, departments and partners, this isn’t easy for most businesses. Acxiom recently commissioned research to dig into what businesses are struggling with when it came to data: While brands are looking to ethically bring data together, and to use safe data sharing models with partners in the form of clean rooms, 53% of businesses said combining their data with partner data for more relevant marketing is a key challenge. Fifty-percent responded that "gaining actionable insights from data" and "managing multichannel campaigns" were key challenges and 45% said skillset and staff capacity to leverage new technologies remains a challenge.
To understand your customers, you must understand data, technology and ethics. You must have a deep understanding of the industries you serve and you must be able to shape media and creativity via data-driven insights.
The complexity is real and companies need help. In fact, 91% of businesses agree that partners are imperative to getting the most out of first-, second- and third-party data.
The “holy grail” for a great customer experience is a unified data layer. Only when you can bring together all of your data into a single, holistic view leveraging a first-party, personally identifiable information-based (PII) enterprise identity approach can you actually get at the heart of what someone interacting with your brand actually cares about–and where and how they are interacting with you.
Most brands have been on the path toward creating a single customer view for some time, but are still struggling to achieve it. In part, that’s because there’s often a disconnect between what we say we want and what we’re able to accomplish. Surprisingly, while 98% of marketers agree that customer data is important to the success of their business, about 60% of businesses we surveyed have not refreshed their data strategy in the last year.
Ultimately, marketers need to bring together the right data the right way. While there's not "one way" to unify your data to drive business results, there is the "right way" for your organization. Modern marketers must create an open, unified data layer that is the right combination of existing and new technologies, adapted for your unique business needs and unified to improve customer understanding, enabling you to deliver meaningful customer experiences. Bringing together the right data, the right way takes deep expertise in data, technology and ethics, but companies that invest will thrive. They will deliver better, more relevant and respectful experiences across channels and will build trust with people who engage with their brands.