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Lots of data: New challenges

Every day more and more consumer data becomes available from a variety of sources. And every day, marketers struggle to capture, integrate and understand how to make that data relevant and actionable. Marketers need to use their data intelligently in order to gain a more holistic view into their customer base.  As consumers jump from one device/channel to the next, marketers need to meet them where they are.

Clearly, data has the potential to be powerful. But it can also be meaningless if organizations do not have the resources or know-how to capitalize on its potential. I participated on a recent panel discussion at The Direct Marketing Association’s annual &THEN event, where we addressed a few of the challenges that today’s marketers encounter as they seek to utilize, and profit from, the immense amount of data and choice of technologies that are available to them today.

Technology Obsession

Integrating technology to automate, orchestrate and manage cross-channel customer interactions has been a top priority for marketers for the past few years and can make a large impact in customer experiences. But the challenge has become that we often are fascinated with the “latest” and “greatest.” Instead, we need to ask ourselves, “Does this piece of technology get me one step closer to putting my customers at the center of my strategy?” Marketers need to become less obsessed with the latest technology, and become more obsessed with their customers’ needs.

Additionally, many brands have found themselves asking the question, “Should I build my own system, or should I buy it?” Farmers Insurance CIO Ron Guerrier explained the comparison by stating that having something custom built means essentially being the only customer for a solution (one of one) and assuming those risks. When it comes to technology solutions, it makes more sense for brands to be one customer of 2,000.  There are plenty of solutions, like Experian’s, that can provide clients with the data, management and activation capabilities they need to enhance their knowledge of customers’ needs, attitudes and motivations.

Conquering Silos

As technology has progressed and new channels have emerged, many marketing departments have built teams around each individual channel – email, social, mobile, etc. However, these silos prevent data from being shared and ends up resulting in a disjointed, non-seamless experience. Without collaboration it’s impossible to identify “the secret sauce” to figure out what channels, messages and frequencies are actually getting customers to convert. Marketing teams face the challenge of building teams around experiences, rather than channels, so that the customer receives the same personalized communication regardless of how they interact with the brand.

Achieving Accuracy

According to our 2016 Digital Marketer, 84 percent of organizations see data as an integral part of their business strategies. However, more important than access to data alone is access to good quality data. Incorrect data has huge potential for lost revenue. Marketers can waste millions of dollars sending irrelevant messaging and over-saturating customers. Brands must meet the challenge of maintaining the quality of their data so that they can deliver exceptional and relevant brand experiences.

Delivering at Scale

The last challenge for marketers is delivering data at scale, otherwise, even good quality data can be meaningless for growth. Brands need to put the right technology and partners in place so that they can expand their customer and prospect list to a larger target audience.

There’s no denying the sheer volume of consumer data available today, including everything from where people live to what they buy and the media they consume. But, while having data available has solved some challenges, it has created others. Just sheer volume of data is meaningless and there isn’t much marketers can do with a bunch of numbers in a spreadsheet. Addressing these challenges head on can enable marketers to open new doors of opportunity with their data and fill in those crucial blanks in their customer profiles.