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At Digital Cream earlier this month, I took part in some intriguing roundtable discussions on ‘joining up online and offline channels’.
Of course, the issue of aligning individuals and the data associated with them from different channels, in-store, e-commerce, social media, etc, has been plaguing marketers for some time now.
One of the biggest challenges is making usable sense of the vast swathes of digital data available...
Data agencies and bigger brands have become very adept at bringing data together from a variety of sources, both on and offline and creating those hugely informative multichannel single customer views.
But having at least understood the need to amass all of this data into an integrated location, what seems to be emerging as the biggest challenge is the daunting volume of data marketers are faced with from the digital world. This can include clicks, paths through the website, smartphone channels and of course the massive world of unstructured social media interactions.
This data can be collected, scrutinised and manipulated; but the question everyone is asking is ‘how to translate it into something meaningful and how to measure the value it is adding?’
And it’s not just the volume of data, it’s also the speed with which it is generated and the speed at which it is changing.
The world is instant now. Not only do we have more channels to feed our customer profiles, making the data deeper and richer than it has ever been before, we also need to be able to filter out that which is usable from that which is noise.
We do need to understand this data, be prepared to act quickly where relevant, and recognise that customer behaviour appears to change very rapidly in the digital world. It bears reminding that in a world of endless possibilities, often little gets done and we can easily lose sight of what is practically valuable and doable in the confusion of what is theoretically possible!
It would seem to me that although we have plenty of data, our usable insight seems to be lagging behind.
In my opinion, trying to tame and understand all available digital data is a bit like trying to operate on a mosquito, very difficult and probably quite unnecessary!
What marketers need to do is to take a step back and refocus on their business objectives, then decide which metrics are the most important and informative.
By doing this you will focus on analysing and shifting the data elements which will impact business performance. Although the other data might be interesting it is ‘nice to know’ information versus necessary.
Someone once said ‘if you don’t measure it, you won’t get it’. Every activity needs to be measured and irrespective of the channel or activity, there should be performance metrics that are tracked and targeted.
Of course, to achieve this you need to join up all of the online and offline data but for the right reason: to put the resulting data to good effect and transform your business performance.