Why a Unified View of the Customer is Essential in Retail

| April 13, 2020

Forward-thinking organizations know that customer data is the foundation of any successful customer experience strategy. And odds are that if you’re a retailer, you’ve invested in and are using some combination of customer relationship management systems, data management platforms, email automation, e-commerce platforms, and help desk tools, all of which collect and store various types of customer data.

Unfortunately, this likely means that at any given time you have valuable customer information spread across your marketing tech stack. If your data is spread out across multiple system silos, it can be difficult to manage, access, query, and analyze without significant time and effort. This disconnected data also leads to incomplete and inaccurate customer profiles, ultimately preventing you from gaining a fully unified view of your customers. Without this unified view of your customers, it’s much more difficult for marketing teams to effectively engage customers and help drive sales.

Having a unified view of the customer is necessary today

How to gain a unified view of your customers

Achieving a unified customer view ensures (and assures) retailers are working with the most accurate and up-to-date understanding of their customers as possible. It gives them the ability to analyze historical customer behavior to better target and personalize future customer interactions. This can have a huge impact on the success of marketing campaigns, particularly surrounding message/content personalization. It’s impossible to create meaningfully engaging, personalized messaging when working with outdated and/or incomplete customer profiles.

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For example, given social distancing measures currently in place to help combat the spread of COVID-19, you’d likely want to avoid sending messages about in-store shopping or in-store incentives. And on a more nuanced and granular level, it may be important to focus on the specific geography of your customers. Are they in one of the geographic epicenters of the pandemic? Your messaging, tone of voice, and offers should change to reflect that fact.

The current reality is that your target market is adjusting to a new set of circumstances every day, so your product mix and messages must adjust accordingly – and often very quickly. The only way to do that is to have one single source of truth about your customers that you can swiftly access and analyze. In this way, you maintain goodwill in a time when consumers are looking for brands they can trust.

What are the major benefits of a unified view of your customers?

There are three major benefits you’ll experience once you’ve gained a unified view of your customers:

  1. Improved insight into customer behavior and lifetime value. A unified view of the customer helps you understand customer lifetime value by acquisition source, so that you can adjust acquisition spend for better results. You can evaluate customer engagement patterns to drive more relevant upsell or cross-sell opportunities and identify customers at risk of lapse to re-engage them before they’re lost.
  2. Improved customer analysis and segmentation. A unified view of the customer offers powerful opportunities to analyze customer purchase behavior and identify inflection points where you can change the trajectory of a shopping journey, resulting in a more relevant customer experience. This becomes especially important during times like these when shoppers are extra-sensitive to “tone-deaf” offers and messaging.
  3. Improved results using your existing technology assets. Marketers face operational challenges in leveraging customer data to its fullest potential, and IT departments may be too busy to successfully execute data warehousing and hygiene projects. A customer data platform can provide the best of all worlds — your brand retains control of its data, the marketing team gets quick access to the data it needs to make on-the-fly campaign decisions, and IT gets to focus on what it does best.

No unified customer view means no single source of truth

Taking steps toward data unification will help you apply revenue-boosting customer insights across your business. And when the world has changed around us, having a unified view of the customer will allow you to stay as close to your customers as possible, respond to their changing needs in real time, and reach them with the most useful and timely experiences.

In a world where data is quickly becoming your most valuable asset, a CDP could be just what your organization needs to take your marketing campaigns to the next level. If you would like more information on how a customer data platform can help you, reach out to us today.

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