July 27, 2015 ben salmon

Bridging the gap between data and digital

SOURCE: State Library of NSW (Flickr)

Consumers are always looking for a more relevant experience. This is something which is mooted frequently within the marketing industry, and includes: a connected customer experience; multi-channel conversations; customer-centric communications; and relevant messaging through any channel at any time.

Can this be achieved?

If we look at a few different technology players from the largest in the world to smaller providers, they all claim this can delivered today within their core messaging:

IBM Campaign

IBM gap digital data

Adobe Campaign

Adobe gap digital data

Kitewheel

kitewheel-gap-digital-data

Fresh Relevance

Freshrelevance-gap-digital-data

The question is whether this can be achieved. Technologically it is certainly something, which has been proven to work and a number of the technology providers above have case studies on how they have provided messages or recommendations to consumers in a consistent manner, but a lot of the time the answer is not in the technology but in something more fundamental.

So what’s stopping us bridging this gap?

Technology can certainly help, but quite often it is there to deliver the solution, but is not the solution itself. If we look at the businesses, which use the technology on behalf of brands, quite often the way these agencies work creates challenges for those trying to create relevant customer experiences. So what are the barriers?

How Silos Emerge

A traditional e-commerce business might have a digital agency (either internal or external) which is responsible for the look and feel of its digital assets. Its remit might include how a consumer would navigate around the website, the content which exists within the site and potentially how the website merchandises its products. The business might also have a database or CRM agency (again internal or external) responsible for communicating to its existing customers. With each of these agencies or departmental functions it is sometimes very difficult to create this “seamless” customer experience. This is not the fault of either party, it is quite simply a result of the data they collect, or have access to, and the way they operate meaning they do not have access to each other’s data. In the diagram below we can see the type of information and how each of the different parties would work with the e-commerce business:

currency-gap-digital-data

What is interesting is that in both cases, the agency strives to understand more about the customer but due to the nature of data to which is has access, it is limited in what it can and cannot do.

Different Currencies

Data agencies or departments typically deliver messages:

“messages are reactive (triggered) or scheduled and delivered based on a defined customer journey”.

Digital agencies or departments typically deliver content or digital experiences:

“Content is planned, but stored and delivered based on visitor interactions”.

How can these different functions work together?

Looking at the diagram below we can see how each party might be able to work with each other. This is a simplistic view however the first step is the ability to share the data and insights. From here these insights can be actioned within each other’s environments. The technology can then be put in place to ensure this is delivered in a consistent and efficient manner.

bridging-the-gap-digital-data

What Next?

There are no immediate actions a brand can take overnight but it might be worthwhile setting out a plan to:

  • Understand the type of information that exists within the digital world and the data world
  • Connect both pieces of data (digital and messages) to enable two way communications initiatives

Then once this is in place the brand can action this data in one of two ways:

  • Initiative one: Provide browsing data to messages to help follow up on website activity, or to create more informed newsletters or a highly personalised welcome journey based on browsing and transactional data.
  • Initiative two: Connect the database activity to the online experience to ensure consistency of messaging or even prompt visitors to take the desired action.
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