4 Essential Elements to Building the Ultimate Data Cloud

With all of the buzz around big data and the cloud, marketers have become keenly aware of its advantages and the corresponding opportunities it offers a brand. By unshackling data from legacy systems and making them readily accessible in the cloud, marketers not only gain faster access to the data they need but can very often streamline traditional processes, shorten time to market, and grow their marketing performance. However, big data must evolve into smart data and marketers must quickly learn how to adapt and optimize their data by taking into account the growing number of interactions on mobile devices. So, what can marketers do today to build the ultimate smart data cloud for an increasingly mobile world?

1. Invest in Identity Management

We live in an omnichannel world, but the data doesn’t lie – mobile is increasingly the standard for all things digital. According to comScore, mobile platforms accounted for 60 percent of total time spent on digital media in May 2014. In addition, nearly one-third of shoppers now use mobile shopping apps at least once a week. For marketers looking to leverage data to power smart decisions and hyper-relevant marketing programs throughout the customer journey, understanding their consumer interactions in an Internet of Things (IOT) world is critical. Core to this understanding is the ability to tie users and their activities across channels and devices. As a result, marketers should look for data cloud solutions that incorporate a robust tag management system that can tie email addresses to cookies and Web activities, phone numbers, and app IDs. This is not only critical but essential in order to effectively operate in an IOT world.

2. Aggregate and Prioritize Key Data Sources

The saying goes: garbage in, garbage out. As marketers look to build the ultimate data cloud for today’s IOT world, the sources, quality, and structure and what you do with it matters. This is where big data is ultimately shaped into smart data. While the mix of data may vary based on your particular brand, vertical, or situation, a smart data cloud often contains five key sources:

  1. Transactional/CRM Data: Talk to any retailer and they will tell you the best predictor of future purchase intent is past purchase history. Serving as the foundation of a high-quality data cloud is the presence of omnichannel CRM data and the associated purchase/transactional history.
  2. Behavioral Data: What you do online, what you clicked on in an email or banner, and what you did or didn’t do in app are key indicators of interest and intent and, therefore, a critical component of any smart data solution.
  3. Signal Data: With the explosion of the number of mobile devices along with the proliferation of Wi-Fi and beacons, an enormous opportunity has been created for brands to leverage location and proximity data to create and execute hyper-relevant marketing programs. Signal data such as location, combined with linger/dwell time, can provide marketers with invaluable information about a consumer’s interest and intent in the physical world. Additionally, these signals are also the linkage between a consumer’s digital behaviors and their behaviors in the physical world (i.e. retail store) allowing brands to create seamless experiences based on the knowledge they have about an individual consumer.
  4. Preference/Loyalty Data: Central to the success of any effective marketing and messaging program is a marketer’s ability to honor the consumer’s expressed interests and preferences with a corresponding value proposition. Targeted content around these preferences and behaviors, along with messaging frequency and controls, are table stakes.
  5. Life Event Data: Forrester talks about mobile moments. But for marketers, it is critically important to also recognize the opportunities surrounding life’s significant moments as they often represent buying opportunities. Third-party data such as pre/new movers, expectant mothers, recently engaged/married/divorced, and college-bound consumers represent large life event opportunities for marketers to reach consumers with relevant messages at a critical time in their lives.

3. Flexibility and Security – Data In/Data Out

Once you’ve connected users via your tag management solutions and collected the critical data elements around known users to form a smart data approach, how you maintain, protecting and importing/exporting your smart data, should be addressed. Creating user IDs, hashing PII during transfers to third-party providers (ESP, DMPs, ad-tech providers), and managing permissions to get the most out of your omnichannel marketing efforts is paramount. Last but not least, review industry compliance requirements and get active in key associations such as the DAA, IAB, MMA, and more.

4. Get Real-Time

Consumers’ expectations are evolving in an IOT world. According to Forrester Research, today’s consumers expect to get anything they need immediately and in context. Forrester refers to these moments as mobile moments – and they represent a huge opportunity for marketers. However, in order to take advantage of these moments, marketers need to rethink the customer journey and invest in the technologies that can enable real-time hyper relevant messaging that leverages data and more specifically location signals. Cloud APIs should not only be secure, but be built to support real-time data transfers and integrations into omnichannel marketing digital marketing channels such as SMS, push, email, and advertising platforms.

The shift to an IOT world is dramatic, and as a result, marketers must rethink their data strategies and the customer journey overall. That requires a greater attention to identity management, incorporating and prioritizing mobile and mobile/location signals, and supporting the ability to respond to those signals in real-time to take advantage of each and every mobile moment.

‘Til next time,


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