It seems the common refrain these days is “I can’t get the data because it’s housed somewhere else.” Houston we have a problem . . . but are these corporate silos such a bad thing? They are if our goal is to get a complete picture of the customer so we can implement relevant, multichannel marketing programs. Granted, online marketers are all about dialogue and exchanging meaningful information, but once a potential customer raises her hand and says “I’m interested,” then incorporating every piece of data will help us close the sale. And, after all, isn’t this what we’re still trying to do?
Merging online and offline data is the holy grail for marketers. It’s only by this integration that we can see whether our multichannel marketing programs are paying off. If we determine the customer’s MVP (most valuable path), then it stands to reason that we can allocate our precious marketing resources more judiciously. How do we overcome these silos and get the data we need? I will identify 5 strategies in Part 2, but for now, let’s start by looking at the data.
Data Issues with Online and Offline Silos?
Silos crop up when a business problem goes unsolved. Just like in physics, nature abhors a vacuum. And with time, silos get even more entrenched. Before discussing the organizational issues, let’s start by examining the data itself.
Here are four problems that I see with integrating online and offline data:
- Customers are evolving faster than marketers. The proliferation of new marketing channels and the vast amounts of data being generated by social media are making it difficult for marketers to keep up.
- The data is different. Akin Arikan, in his book, Multichannel Marketing (www.MultiChannelMetrics.com), describes offline data to be more like CSI (the TV show) because marketers have to leverage every piece of it to extract and market to their customers. Online marketers, on the other hand, are more like The Matrix (the movie) because there’s so much data streaming in they need marketing analytics to make sense of it all. Translation: You didn’t see a picture of the customer as a real person in The Matrix.
- Online data can be warehoused in generic data models that come packaged in off-the-shelf software. With offline data, that’s not so much the case. Multichannel data, therefore, is less generic in terms of customer characteristics, which means the resulting data warehouses differ more from company to company.
- The popularity of hosted, web analytics solutions often require that the data reside outside the company’s systems at a third-party provider. This means that data feeds are needed to compile multichannel data back into a central warehouse.
Part 2 will show how data and organizational issues are being overcome to produce successful multichannel marketing programs. Stay tuned for more...
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