Thought Leadership


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Forget Big Data for a Minute, and Focus on Your Customer Data

Customer Data

You know data is imperative to your success as a marketer.

You’ve read the studies that state data-driven marketing is the key to increased revenues.  But, when you go to implement a data initiative, something else takes precedent - a new social channel, technology or campaign initiative.

It happens to all of us - even the best cross-channel marketers aren’t always data-driven.

Yet they have a process in place to keep it in check.

Too much data causes marketers to lose focus

As an industry, we’ve been saying it for years.  Marketers must become data-driven ( I want to be clear here, I am not speaking about Big Data or the Internet of Things, this is just plain old demographic and transactional data) in order to becoming successful.  All the technology and best-practices in the world will not a good marketer make if they do not have the insights from customer data, you know, the people that are currently buying from you?  Yet, time and time again, marketers (at an alarming rate) are failing to do even the basics. This month, Yesmail released a survey from that showed that 64% of brands don’t even personalize email copy, and over two-thirds do not use customer data to personalize the products and services featured in brand emails. 

How can you expect to differentiate your brand from the competition if you aren’t even personalizing email copy?


The problem is that marketers are inundated with too much data (see: Big Data), too much information, and too many people saying what they should be doing, and are losing focus on the customer.  There is not enough executive buy-in to data-driven initiatives because it’s been difficult to understand and monetize data in a way that makes sense to the business.


Pressure from C-Suite to generate fast revenue

Over the past decade, there has been a transformational shift in the way marketing departments are aligned and the amount ofinfluence they have in the boardroom.  What used to be thought of as more of an autonomous department is now becoming much more influential to the overall strategy of a brand.  Executives have seen the importance that marketers play to the strategy of their brand, and look at marketing as no longer a cost center, but a revenue generating machine.

With more budget, new marketing technologies and emerging social channels, the ability to expand a brand’s reach has led to a deluge of data collection and new selling opportunities.  Interestingly however, the easier it became to collect data, the more difficult it has become to use.  Too many automated systems have led to an inadequate understanding of the customer.  Heavy investments into digital marketing capabilities (automation, triggers, etc), sales and web analytics tools, and predictive analytics have created numbers instead of people.  It has created more reactive marketing (shopping cart abandonment, retargeting) campaigns which get more budget than a sound acquisition or loyalty program. Organic growth is lacking.  So they turn to misguided acquisition campaigns and call it a day.

To Become Data-Driven, Focus On Your Customer Data 

For marketers to truly take advantage of the analytics and digital marketing capabilities they are investing in, they need to start with the beginning in mind.  And that means analyzing your current customer data file.  Utilizing customer data to personalize your marketing campaigns will increase the likelihood of an open, a click or a purchase.  Without the proper guidelines though, it can be difficult to implement into your strategy.

First, you need a sound master data management process in place.  Standardizing your data collection fields across your organization and implementing business rules for cleansing are just two steps you can take.

Second, you’ll want to do an audience analysis on your customer and prospect file.  Looking deep into your data, you’ll be able to utilize behaviorial and descriptive data to form insights and create actionable segmentations.  After this, you should focus on creating profiles for each segment and then look at utilizing a third-party data overlay to enhance the information you have on file.

And here is where it all ties in together.  Once you have a clear picture into the profiles of your customer and prospect data, you can make better investments into technology and channels.  You might find that you are mailing too many catalogs and need to refocus your energies on low-hanging email opportunities.  Or, that you had a previously unknown customer segment that needs to be tested and evaluated. 

Your customer data holds the key to how you as a marketer, should be investing your marketing budget into becoming data-driven.  It will tell you which channels you need to invest in, and what messages will resonate best.  However, if you don’t take the steps necessary to transform your customer marketing initiatives today, you’ll be passed by the competition.

Challenge your marketing team this quarter to refocus on your customer data, and take the steps to become truly data-driven.

Author Bio

Anthony Pauley

Anthony manages marketing for Yes Lifecycle Marketing which includes content marketing, lead generation, go-to-market strategies, partner marketing strategies and a host of other responsibilities. Prior to joining Infogroup and Yes Lifecycle Marketing he worked in business development and marketing for Experian Marketing Services. His expertise being around data, data processing and database marketing technologies in both B2C and B2B applications, Anthony brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the marketing group and is looking forward to establishing Yes Lifecycle Marketing as a leader in the market place.