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.