If advertisers want to be truly multichannel then they need to have access to, and control of, their product data.
By extracting product data from several different sources, you can fulfil any required channel marketing application.
Data can be extracted directly from your ecommerce site, existing data feeds or an API, and can then be distributed into hundreds of different online channels, increasing the visibility of your products in front of online consumers.
However, it all hinges on having high-quality product data that is comprehensive, accurate and consumable.
Helen Southgate, UK Managing Director, Affilinet:
Overlooking quality - especially when it comes to data – is a big mistake…The correct data will drive customer acquisition, incremental sales and contribute towards increasing the lifetime value of a customer. The wrong data can impact brand reputation, growth and see an advertiser lose customers to a more savvy competitor.
Product data must be comprehensive
John Ashton, Digital Marketing Executive, Notonthehighstreet.com:
Having a product data feed that we can trust - that’s the most important thing. It means that we can be confident that whoever accesses our products is getting the best, and most relevant, information...
Comprehensive data contains all the relevant product attributes for each unique, marketable product in your inventory.
Product attributes include: price, description, images etc. and the most effective way of extracting rich product data from ecommerce websites is through screen scraping as this tends to be the most reliable source of merchant product information.
If attributes are missing from a product data feed consumers will not be able to see all product information. If this happens, the advertiser loses credibility with the consumer as well as value, because their products cannot be integrated into any channels that require those missing attributes.
To create a comprehensive product data set, product information should be gathered from more than one source, e.g. data feeds, APIs and directly from an ecommerce website.
This ensures that no product attributes are missing and gives advertisers access to all the product data required for their channel marketing initiatives.
Product data must be accurate
Brogan Savage, Online Marketing Manager, Cath Kidston:
High-quality product data is crucial for Cath Kidston, especially as our products come in a variety of colours and sizes so we need all product listings to be extremely accurate…
Accurate data must be timely and up-to-date to ensure that product attributes match the correct value of each product and its status with the vendor. Attributes such as price and availability must match exactly because if your product data is not accurate, consumers will be presented with the wrong information.
Mispriced products not only lead to lost customers and damage your brand reputation, but also waste marketing budget, in terms of worthless click through.
Additionally, outdated product data feeds can lead to products being displayed as ‘in stock’, when they are actually unavailable. This is frustrating for consumers, who will lose no time in telling friends about their experience on social media.
To ensure that your data remains accurate, you should refresh it at least once a day, more if your products have rapidly changing prices or a high turnover rate.
Product data must be consumable
Chris Sheen, Head of Marketing, SaleCycle:
Product data is integral to SaleCycle's business, and the solutions we provide our clients. There are so many different data sets which can influence your marketing decisions, from simple personal details (e.g. gender) through to advanced demographic and modelling information (e.g. Mosaic) - but it's product level data which gives us the clearest indication of a customer's buying intentions - both now and in the future.
Your product data must be in a usable format for marketing applications, taking attribute mapping and transformation into consideration where necessary, so that partners, e.g. digital agencies and price comparison sites, can use your product data.
It must also be in good order so that you can take advantage of new channel opportunities as and when they arise.
Consumable data is easily accessible and contains all necessary product attributes; this makes channel integration simple and cost-effective, giving you more control over where your data is distributed. Data can be integrated as a data feed or as part of an API that can be interpreted by those looking to use your data.
It can also be provided on an FTP site for download.
Optimising your data
Having comprehensive, accurate and consumable data enables the correct mapping and categorisation of your product data. This makes it easier to integrate the data into online channels even if their menu categories are not the same as those on your website.
Having product data which is clearly structured, labelled and formatted makes this process easier and it’s also possible to combine or split product data to create new attributes, e.g. by taking attributes such as ‘colour’ or ‘gender’ from the product title.
This can also work the other way by combining individual attributes to optimise product titles or descriptions in paid search automation.
Richard McKnight, Digital Marketing Manager, Chain Reaction Cycles:
With the online space becoming more competitive each year, one of the key areas that can position your business ahead of competitors is quality data, not only to ensure your advertising channels are working correctly but also to ensure relevant and efficient traffic is being driven from each.
Ultimately, you should always aim to have the highest quality data possible so that you can drive incremental sales revenue through different channels and provide a consistent consumer experience of your products across channels.
Having control of your product data enables you to create engaging content across various online channels including: display advertising, marketplaces (Amazon, eBay etc.), Google Shopping, Price Comparison Search (CSEs), behavioural retargeting and social media (Facebook).
If data is comprehensive, accurate and consumable it gives you the ability to be creative and flexible with your data, displaying your products across multiple channels to reach the greatest number of consumers and give them an optimised buying experience on your site.