Achieving a single customer view is supposedly the ultimate goal for digital marketers, but is it really feasible?

Building this complete, joined-up view of the customer is a costly and time-consuming project, and while some have made decent progress, others still have a mountain to climb.

A new report published today by Econsultancy and Innometrics investigates the current landscape for businesses seeking to obtain that single customer view, and looks at how brands are approaching the gap between digital and retail, among other challenges. 

The Single Customer View report features in-depth opinions from senior-level executives working within ecommerce, online and marketing departments, from companies including Mothercare, Camelot, myHermes, EE, Clarins, Rank, Occam and Seren.

Here’s a brief summary of three topics investigated in the report…

The gap between digital and retail

For multichannel retailers, the most obvious barrier to obtaining a single customer view is the ability to track across retail and digital platforms. 

In the UK ecommerce accounts for around 13% of overall sales, meaning there’s still 87% of customer purchase data that brands and retailers need to capture.

According to Nick Bonney, Head of Insight at Camelot:

That’s the bit where we need to be realistic. Unless it’s a log-able transaction, you will never see it. 

The view that you’ve got one single comprehensive view of all the interactions a customer is having with your brand is unrealistic in a multichannel environment.

The battle against legacy systems and big data

Modern marketing technologies can potentially give marketers a single customer view, if implemented correctly.

However the reality is that many companies are still using old software and don’t have the resources to rebuild their digital marketing platforms from scratch.

Often there is a lack of understanding and knowledge around these systems, and data can be very fragmented. 

Many of the businesses interviewed for this report admitted to legacy systems being their biggest obstacle to creating an SCV.

Creating a contextually rich view of the customer

In order to secure the maximum benefit from any investment in SCV, businesses have to be focused on putting the customer first.

But a complete SCV isn’t essential in order to create personalised customer experiences. It can be achieved using a combination of other digital tactics, such as audience profiling, audience segmentation and propensity modelling.

For those struggling to obtain buy-in and investment for a SCV, these might be sensible and effective alternatives.

There is a key difference between SCVs and customer profiles. The SCV can only show you past activities, but profiles include data such as social information to show intention. 

This provides marketers with the ability to anticipate and predict customer behaviour.

For a more in-depth view, download the full report: Single Customer View – Myth or Reality?