Experian Marketing Services just released its 2014 Digital Marketer report, which gives an in-depth look at how marketers should approach cross-channel marketing, data collection, and more. The report’s 100-plus pages both highlight survey data and give step-by-step tips on how to address some of the most common challenges digital marketers face today.
Cross-channel marketing is on the minds of many. In fact, Experian data show 80 percent of marketers worldwide reported they’ll run cross-channel marketing campaigns in 2014.
“Cross-channel marketing is not multichannel marketing,” Experian explains. “Cross-channel campaigns are those that are integrated across multiple channels versus those that are run simultaneously in various channels. Integrating campaigns is significantly more difficult than running them individually, but brands understand the imperative and are taking the necessary steps to advance.”
And while cross-channel marketing may be the thing to aspire to do, marketers need to be able to collect data that helps them understand its performance. According to Experian research, senior-level marketers reported collecting and managing structured and unstructured data as the biggest challenge they faced.
Fifty-three percent of companies used manual methods for data cleansing, Experian says. In fact, “human error” was reported as the top source of poor data.
In its report, Experian gave the following five tips for improving data accuracy:
- Clean up existing information: “The first step to consolidating information into a single customer view is to make sure data is as accurate as possible,” Experian reports. “When combining different sources of information, it is important that stakeholders have a unique identifier to distinguish between given records. Clean data isn’t just the first step in better understanding individuals, but also in better identifying what records should be combined and what should remain separate.”
- Consolidate data sources: “One major problem for data-driven companies is accessibility to information. Marketers often struggle to access the information that they need in real time, which is a requirement in today’s fast-paced business,” Experian says. “Disparate data sources should be consolidated into one central source, providing better access to information and a consolidated place to gain insight.”
- Create a centralized process for data management: “With many individuals and departments adding and using data,” says Experian, “quality must be a strategic, centralized initiative that spans across the organization. The speed at which information is used in data-driven organizations demands that it is accurate upon entry. Marketers need to work with colleagues across departments to achieve a meaningful data quality strategy.”
- Automate processes: “Reliance on manual data cleansing methods leads to human error,” Experian reports. “Automate processes and use software to better validate and standardize information upon entry and consolidate it into a single record. This will eliminate human error and free up staff resources to focus on more analysis rather than data hygiene.”
- Use better searching technology: “When consolidating information across multiple channels, it can be difficult to find existing client records because of poor search functionality. Use more sophisticated search methods to link new information with existing records as soon as details are entered,” says Experian. “This helps prevent records from becoming disjointed after the initial consolidation.”
This first step of data collection and processing lays the foundation for a more sophisticated marketing approach. In its report, Experian outlines five steps to increase this marketing sophistication:
The report argues for the need in today’s digital marketing to obtain a “single customer view” in order to succeed:
Today’s consumer gobbles up more and more control of the so-called ‘buyer’s journey,’ while marketers work hard to deal with a stunning reversal in the brand-consumer power dynamic. The resulting pressure on corporate marketing organizations to become experts in this new customer-centric terrain, take up position in every possible channel, and not only recognize, but intelligently engage their customers is bringing about changes in ideology, organization, and technology.
And while personalization may have been a novelty at one point, consumers have come to expect it from their interaction with brands.
Not so long ago a customer might have been pleasantly surprised by, and statistically more likely to respond to, a personalized email using dynamic, variable-based content. Today, that same customer expects to seamlessly navigate across a growing array of channels and be met at every step of the way with messaging and offers tailored to his or her unique relationship with that brand. Simply put, the customer expects convenience.
For more insight and tips from Experian, you can access the full report here.