Integrating Your Data to Drive ROI
The “multichannel mantra” is back. For much of the past decade, catalogers promoted the concept of multichannel marketing. They suggested that their best customers used a combination of traditional advertising and newer channels. By catering to best customers, the theory suggested, sales and profits were likely to increase.
The theory is now resurfacing, being reintroduced by a vendor community eager to capitalize on key business trends.
Web analytics and business intelligence vendors seem to be rushing “to the middle,” looking to integrate online and offline data for the purpose of truly understanding customer behavior. Similarly, email marketers are looking to integrate email with social media, trying to explain that the combination of the two channels yields productive customers.
At the heart of all of this multichannel chatter is the concept of data integration. Marketers are being told that they have to integrate data from all channels to thoroughly understand customer behavior — i.e., execute relevant marketing campaigns that increase sales and profit.
That’s the theory being taught.
The reality of data integration is that some data elements are more important than others. The fact that you visited a website on Monday is important. The fact that you visited eight landing pages on Monday, viewed 13 products, put three items in a shopping cart and then abandoned the cart is important in some situations. Intuitively, the latter scenario should be more important. However, that level of data is only important when used the right way.
Most marketers don't have the resources to integrate data at the level they're being asked to integrate data — and that’s OK. You can start at a small level and build toward the future.
Traditional direct marketers can begin by capturing the most recent date that activity happened on their websites. Simply store in a database the date of a consumer's most recent visit, most recent merchandise department landing page visit, most recent shopping cart abandoned, most recent email campaign clicked through, most recent paid search visit and so on. Then link that activity to name/address information, where possible.
At this point, you have actionable information. A customer who hasn't purchased in 38 months visits a certain merchandise page but doesn't purchase. An email marketing campaign can be crafted for customers with this type of behavior, in hopes of reactivating the customer.
Or look at your catalog marketing activities. Who would you rather mail a catalog to: a customer who hasn't purchased in 38 months, or a customer who hasn't purchased in 38 months but visited your website last week?
Data integration is a hot topic and for good reason. Balance the need to have all data stored perfectly in your database with the opportunity to summarize a few key data points — data points that are highly actionable.