Digital marketers have moved from a campaign driven to a more customer centric approach. The resulting customer dialogue has led to a greater need for a single customer view.

However legacy systems have created data silos resulting in the need for more data integration. This has repercussions for how marketers should think about their technology.

Thankfully the industry is aware of the need for change, as our latest research found that 97% of digital marketers in large US retailers think integration of customer experience technology is ‘important’ or ‘essential’ to their growth.

Why has data integration become so important?

For many businesses data has become their most valuable asset. But to utilise the value of customer data marketers need a single customer view, which means integrating their data silos.

A good example of the value of data integration is cart abandonment email. Linking web analytics data to the email system enables marketers to trigger more relevant email campaigns based on web behaviour. This can double the value generated by email.

Other areas where data integration is important are:

Data integration is not easy. Marketers’ biggest headache is moving data between systems.

So what does this all mean?

There are six things marketers should try to achieve. 

Firstly, when buying marketing technology take more time to consider how well it integrates with your other existing technology. A vendor having a partnership or API (application programming interface) does not mean that different systems will work well together.

Check that you will be able to do what you want to achieve and take up references. Look out for hidden integration costs such as set up and maintenance fees.

Second, decide if you want to go for best-of-breed or a single software suite? Incremental improvement or a big bang approach?

The solution is rarely to put everything in one box. It will probably cost too much and take too long. In reality many large vendors’ technology is not yet properly integrated.

Things will be a lot better in two or three years’ time, but what do you do until then?

Third, map your different customer journeys and prioritise where the ball is being dropped between different data systems.

Integrate the necessary data to start to fill the gaps. Measure the benefits to justify making this a continuous improvement process. At some stage investment in a better single customer view is justified, for example, using a temporary outsourced single customer view to prove the ROI.

Fourth, most businesses do not have a real-time single customer view. The next best thing is to use a cut-down customer profile for real-time applications.

Fifth, use data fusion or segmentation techniques to link disparate datasets. For example, use RFM (recency, frequency and monetary spend) data to link off and online.

Finally, tap into your organisation’s CRM experience. Data silos have been an issue in CRM for a long time.

As data value and volume increases the linking of data in different legacy systems becomes more important. Brands have been slow to ‘join the dots’ and tackle data integration issues.

This now needs to be addressed if data is to be the powerful enabler it should be for better marketing.

For a deeper look at these data and single customer view challenges download our latest report, Marketing Pain Points and How to Overcome Them.