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Data points vs. people: the increasing importance of a Single Customer View

As the world has become increasingly digitized, digital marketing and advertising ecosystems have grown into huge digital rivers of information where offline and online data converge.

Information collected via the “Internet of Things” – from our cars, heating systems, coffee machines and even our pets’ food bowls – will swell this river of data further still.

With such diverse digital data trails being created, the message for brands, media agencies and media owners is clear: move away from a siloed understanding of your audiences and embrace a data strategy to build a complete view of your customers – The Single Customer View.

In a fragmented digital ecosystem which is striving to demonstrate value and provide transparency, there is a real need for a strategic approach. So, how can you address your customers as people rather than a cluster of data points, through a comprehensive and scalable data strategy?

Understanding customer behavior through data strategy

Brands, media agencies and media owners: we know you want to avoid drowning in data but, at the same time, you should not miss the huge opportunities for engagement with your customers in a personalized and effective way. The risk is not only adversely impacting user experience but also developing blind or inaccurate marketing and advertising messages and, ultimately, affecting revenue. In order to effectively build a Single Customer View, you must first develop a comprehensive data strategy.

It is often the case that client briefs focus on needs relating to specific product or service-use cases at the expense of the wider context. With separate client teams briefing these projects and managing different data sets, there is a real danger of efforts being duplicated and data being siloed. Having a solid data governance and management strategy, and a data science led, consistent approach to data across your business is crucial to avoid a fragmented view of your customers.

We know that a customer is not just a buyer of a certain product or service. He or she is also a human being with different characteristics, behaviors and attitudes. The customer may or may not have bought other products from the same brand before. Plus, there are all those activities that take place out of sight of the brand on various channels and in different environments. For example:

  • What other products did the customer buy?
  • What are his/her preferred entertainment channels?
  • What does he/she watch on TV?
  • How much of his/her income is allocated to beauty and personal care products?
  • Does he/she travel a lot?
  • Has he/she a higher than average likelihood to switch brands or is a loyal customer?

These are often unrelated, and yet, they are fundamental to fully understand the individual customer to build a Single Customer View.

Untapped potential: A holistic view of the customer

Having a holistic view of the customer is a concept with huge, untapped potential. It needs to extend beyond the products and services people buy and be enhanced by the incremental data available to your business. For instance, how did the customer react to certain advertising? How did he/she engage with the targeted marketing messages from the brand?

As things stand, companies all too often use different data sets in different contexts – even though they are related to the same user. This is effectively “digitally dismembering” their customer – approaching him/her as if they were different separate entities. This results in different and incomplete views of the same user.

How to build a Single Customer View

To construct a Single Customer View, you must focus on developing the following data strategies to give you the depth for viewing your customer as a person rather than a cluster of data points:

  • A single data collection point for different data sources.
  • Leveraging Data Science to make sense of the information in a smart and relevant way.
  • Quality data to enrich existing 1st party data and complete an otherwise partial view of the customer.

However, a Single Customer View would be of limited or partial use if you won’t be able to activate it and leverage it (where, when and how depending on your specific goals): this is when a Data Management Platform (DMP) comes into play.

By doing so, you can achieve the practical goal of being able to target that specific customer on different channels with tailored messages and, more importantly, the ultimate objective of building a more effective, rewarding and meaningful relationship with your customer.

With this level of information, websites or apps can be optimized depending on the characteristics of your customer. Relevant content can be published and product recommendations made, targeted messages delivered across the digital communications ecosystems (including programmatic), or via email marketing campaigns.

Let’s get to the Single Customer View together

We are working hard to help clients in reaching their objective of a deep and multidimensional view of their customers, by supporting them in the development of a comprehensive data strategy while leveraging the rich data provided by our panels, purchase data and other sources, and combining this with our extensive expertise in data science and modeling techniques.

In an inconsistent digital ecosystem that is struggling to demonstrate value and provide transparency, there is more need than ever for expertise, quality and trust. These are the three foundation pillars to collect, enrich and make sense of the data, and provide the bigger picture: a complete view of your customer.

Please email me to share your thoughts at Alessandro.DeZanche@gfk.com (Global Product Lead, Data Activation).

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1 Comment

inspiring and extremely useful. Thank you so much