Recently, the concept of creating and managing a single customer view database has fallen out of fashion. However, a few things have happened recently that make having a single view of a customer as important today as it always was.

Over the last few years, the concept of creating and managing a single customer view database has fallen out of fashion. For many companies, these projects became massive enterprise-level beasts with spiralling costs. As such, the underlying reason as to why you would want to know which customers transact in multiple ways was lost.

However, a few things have happened recently that make having a single view of a customer, or prospect, as important today as it always was. And this will hopefully help those companies who see their single customer view as an old fashioned offline-only tool becoming central to their full multi-channel engagement.

First of all, there are more ways for a consumer to engage with your band than ever before – signing up to email lists, following on social media, browsing and not buying as well as all the ways to actually purchase from a brand. In general, this data does not get loaded into a single view of customer database (SCV), which means that there is a lot of very valuable data that is missing or not being used. However, all of this data is stored somewhere, and almost certainly doesn’t need to be copied and kept in a massive data lake. But knowing that it is the same person on the email list who recently bought from your brand is obviously very useful.

Secondly, with the new changes to cookie laws, it is going to be harder to use a consumer’s browsing history to deliver ads or offers. As such, what you know about them as an individual from the engagement they have with you becomes even more important. This is what is called first party data.  At the same time, the permission to engage with an individual across any channel is absolutely vital. The SCV can be a very useful repository for holding not only transactional data but also ad hoc engagement data and permissions.

And last but not least, but definitely not last, we have the recent changes in law with GDPR, which means that if a consumer wants to know what information you hold about them, then companies must oblige and deliver back all the information you hold. At present this can be cumbersome for many organisations as the SCV holds a lot of the primary data but often doesn’t have any of the social or digital data. Therefore, a lot of work is needed locate the raw data in individual systems.

Building connections – real and virtual

One of the previous issues with building enterprise level database solutions for an SCV was the volume of data that had to be copied and held centrally. The prevailing wind today is that holding a copy of all data just doesn’t make sense.  And with the increase of data in the digital world – pages visited, posts, likes, comments and so in – it could be massively cost prohibitive.

In general, what we want to know in the SCV is how people have engaged and where the detail is on that engagement. Having connectors in place makes that much easier. For example, if we have an email address on a mailing list, we can use that to prospect to them.  As and when they purchase and we get a physical address we can then connect that email address to an individual household where we also have another customer email address. Ditto with other connectors like IP address or mobile number.

There are now many spine files combining these connectors that are commercially available to help create these connections.

Another key issue is how we determine an individual. Previously that would generally have been a name and address, then an email address and now an IP address or social handle. The truth is that all of this is true. We have to keep our perception of who a prospect or customer is relatively fluid. An IP address is a potential sale even before we connect it to an email address, who is in turn a customer even before we get a physical address to deliver a product.

As such the overall volume of prospects, enquirers, customers and suchlike will increase with the understanding that once the connections are made, the data associated with each will be rationalised. The raw data itself about the connection can reside in the host systems and be used on an ad hoc basis as and when needed.

Keeping data up-to-date – it’s the law

There are many different levels of understanding of what is required under GDPR in terms of keeping data up to date. This isn’t that surprising as most of the concentration to date has been on consent and ensuring that we have permission to contact the consumers we want to engage with.

However, we also have an obligation to keep the data we hold current and clean. And to archive or delete what is no longer needed. In some cases, this has not been considered, while in others it is seen as a lower priority.

However, in GDPR, the advice is very clear: Article 5 requires that personal data be kept clean and accurate (or be deleted!).  As such, choosing a trusted location to hold the key information on your customers, optimise the quality of your data and maximise compliance is now business critical. Tackling GDPR compliance from an SCV point of view isn’t a luxury but a necessity. Keeping the data current, tracking permissions and consent and ensuring that SARs can be responded to quickly and accurately are all part of the new world of data management.

Use the data, don’t lose it

Another crime committed in the name of the SCV was building vast quantities of data into a database, and then doing not very much with it. This feels like the biggest crime of all.

Why hold information about your customers and then treat them all the same? Or know that you have an individual on your email list, who buys online yet send them competing offers via other channels or on social media? Sadly, this happens every day.

Building a single view of customer is not a technology solution, it is a mindset change. The companies who have succeeded in the use of data, for example Tesco and Sainsbury’s, have done so not just by investing in big database solutions (which they undoubtably have) but also by investing in campaign planners and data scientists to mine the data, make some judgements, test theories and operationalise the ones that work.

Again, this is as important today as it ever was, with an increased need to be structured and organised. Just like the data in your SCV.

Scott Logie is Customer Engagement Director at marketing data and insight company REaD Group and Chair of the Customer Engagement Committee of the DMA (Data & Marketing Association).

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Why marketing needs a third summer of love!

The original Summer of Love took place in 1967, when hundreds of thousands of people embraced free love, community-based ideals, mind-expanding drugs and what we would now call prog rock. The epicentre was San Francisco’s neighbourhood of Haight-Ashbury but its impact was felt all over the world and it heralded a new era of free expression and respect for social norms. Of course, the counterpoint to all of this was punk, post-punk and the birth of the best music ever made but let’s not go into that here.

The second Summer of Love was 22 years later in 1989 when acid house inspired baggy music and baggy jeans, long nights of sweaty clubs and “illegal” raves, smiley faces, Ralgex, Lucozade and a desperate need to rehydrate. Of course, the counterpoint to that was Oasis, The Strokes, Meanswear and some of the dullest music every made but again, let’s not get into that.

As lockdown lifts…

It feels like we are well overdue another Summer of Love. With the end of lockdown and the opportunity to see friends, meet people, go to festivals, enjoy a drink or three, and just be happy, is it time for a third summer of love? It might be too late for me but I am convinced there is a generation of kids desperate to make this happen, and we have seen evidence of the start of this with huge gatherings in parks and a massive outpouring of relief that people can meet again.

Obviously, this is purely speculation and maybe it won’t happen as a social phenomenon but it should happen from a marketing point of view. We have just come through some of the toughest times as an industry. People have lost jobs, agencies have closed down, we have lost some of the biggest brands on the high street and others are really toiling.

However, there have been a few things that I have seen which gives me great hope that we can not only return to pre-pandemic spend levels but, maybe, supersede these.

Loyalty is key

First of all, loyalty has really come to the fore in the last year. I don’t mean gathering of points and air miles but real, genuine, love for brands, locations and people. I live near a small market town and the way that the community has rallied round the local businesses has been astounding. People have been visiting the town every day even with nothing open. Click and collect is thriving, the coffee shops are run off their feet with takeaways and there have been small markets popping up to sell local produce.

People are choosing the brands, stores and more that they want to see survive and are effectively paying to make sure that happens. I am sure we are not the only household to have bought stuff we don’t really need (clothes to wear for imaginary nights out for example) because we want to have the choice to buy from these places again in the future. Surely this is a sign of real love?

Innovation matters

Secondly, the pandemic has forced a huge amount of innovation. For example, my friend who runs a small brewery had always planned to have a direct to consumer offering but had no need until last summer. Now we can buy direct from him (and we do, regularly) and drink his fine beer at home. Many smaller retailers have done the same. Granted, it was out of necessity but as a result, consumer choice has massively increased. We can spread our love, as it were.

Does this mean the death of the high street? I am not convinced. Clearly it will mean a rationalisation of the high street, but when you see the queues of people outside shops in recent days and weeks, you can see that physical shopping is a hobby for many people and that won’t change. But it does mean much more choice for the consumer and more variety in the ways that we engage with brands.

Engage with consumers where they are

Which brings me to my third reason for hope. Over the last year we have seen a rise in more traditional marketing techniques. For example, the ongoing decline in the use of direct mail has stopped and we saw a small increase in spend in 2020. That’s not a surprise as consumers were at home, some other media channels – such as outdoor and events – had had to stop, and it makes sense to speak to people where they are based.

What I do hope is that it makes marketers, and agencies, consider their audience and where to engage with them rather than just following a trend and the latest thing that is new and exciting. I have heard much more talk of customer journeys, audience segments, matching want and need, and multi-channel approach than in a long time. Marketers have always known that these principles are what should be followed but that didn’t stop massive amounts of money being spent on mass targeting through Facebook or Google because it was fashionable.

And, of course, as a data geek, I am always happy when customer knowledge is at the heart of decision-making.

When you combine all of these factors, from a marketing point of view we have a fascinating summer ahead. A summer where the loyalty that consumers have shown to the brands they have supported through all of this is rewarded; where brands and consumers can connect directly without the need of an intermediary; and where marketers focus on the people they want to have a relationship with, and embrace them while knowing more about who they are and what they are interested in. Quite possibly the recipe for a third summer of love perhaps?

To find the full article go to – Why marketing needs a third summer of love | CustomerThink 


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The Coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns has seen a boom in pet ownership across the UK, and this has seen more consumer spending on pets than ever before!

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