3 Tips to Embrace Customer Data All Year Long

The 2016 holiday season was undoubtedly the most digital yet, with shoppers spending nearly $50 billion online from the beginning of November to mid-December – a 12% increase over the same time period last year. Amazon alone sold millions of products and declared its best holiday season ever.

But holiday sales were just one benefit to the increased online traffic. Retailers can also benefit all year long from the huge influx of customer data that happens during the holiday season.

Loyal and new customers alike spent the last few months visiting desktop and mobile sites, lured by promotional offers and holiday gift guides.  As they visited, they made purchases, created accounts, signed up for email newsletters – all of which helped retailers capture rich customer data. In fact, one study estimates that retailers see a 70% increase in customer data around the holidays.

During these peak traffic times, retailers have a huge opportunity to grow their customer database, which can fuel benefits long after the holiday season. On-site authentication activities like the ones listed above give retailers the foundation to create known, people-based profiles that can be enriched and activated all year for efforts like refined audience targeting and personalization. Ultimately, with an owned customer identity graph, retailers can reap the benefits of improved sales ROI and brand loyalty into 2017 and beyond.

But to fuel better experiences, retailers must be prepared to effectively capture and connect customer data at every touchpoint to create persistent identities that are robust and long-lasting. Read on for best practices to do so.

Avoid data collection conundrums

Historically, many marketers have taken a campaign-based approach to customer identity by utilizing a DSP or retargeter for collecting and activating behavioral-based data. But this results in limitations in the life and portability of their data. Whether they mean to or not, marketers are trapping customer information with one vendor instead of enabling a holistic view of the customer across the marketing ecosystem. And in a matter of days or weeks, cookies are deleted or expire – and along with them, the customer profile disappears.

Another common approach is to utilize a DMP or onboarder to activate offline CRM data. However, this limits the ability to see and respond to real-time customer signals. In addition, renting vendors’ identity graphs constrains the ability to transparently grow a retailer’s own customer recognition asset.

Prioritize a lasting identity asset

Instead of employing others to collect and organize customer data, there are ways to harness the information internally and turn this customer data into action and competitive advantage. A brand that builds its own centralized, customer identity foundation can power continuous engagement across touchpoints and time.

Here are 3 tips for building an owned identity asset:

  1. Use technology that keeps the retailer in control of its first-party data and can integrate customer information from all marketing partners.
  2. Stitch together live, behavioral data with the rest of customer data, including real-time authentication captured through log-ins and registrations.
  3. Constantly sync data with media buying platforms to ensure that the latest customer authentications are added into targeted audience segments.

During the holidays, think about the influx of customer data as the best gift a retailer can receive. By following these tips, retailers can make this data gift that keeps on giving well into the new year.

Kathy Menis, SVP of Marketing, Signal



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