Single Customer View vs. single customer view – which one do you have?

Andrew Stockwell | Client Director

The single customer view – a marketing buzzword we all really need to get our heads around. So where do I start? Wikipedia? Ok, it can’t always be trusted, but it gives a useful overview here. It tells us that a Single Customer View is an aggregated, consistent and holistic representation of the data held by an organisation about its customers. But what does that really mean?

The unfortunate truth is that many companies that have this ‘holistic representation of data’ in place (or believe they have it in place…) actually just have a database filled with data, or worse, a number of databases filled with data! In fact, according to Econsultancy, 80% of marketers are yet to create an actionable single customer view.

To gain a true single customer view you need to use it; take action from it; segment and personalise the experience. Really use what you know about your customers as individuals. We are all individuals and when treated like individuals and not just a number we respond accordingly. We visit websites and stores, then we buy things! We’re good like that - if we feel a brand loves us, we will love them back!

So, do you truly believe you have a single customer view?

I’ve spent a good proportion of my career helping clients succeed in the digital marketing arena. In the last ten years there have been far too many times that I’ve come across companies that thought they had a single customer view. It wasn’t until we started working with them that we had to explain that actually, they didn’t. Even in our initial data exploration, we would see gaping holes which would have made it impossible for them to identify individuals or use the data to take any sort of action.

By importing the data into a RedEye database, cleansing it and deduplicating it a very different picture is often revealed. A common reason for this can be the lack of consideration for the merge of digital and traditional data. Cookie data is often simply merged in with a historic transaction file, which was the bedrock the original database was built on. It sounds simple, but firstly you need to make sure your single customer view is truly looking at customers, this sounds basic but it is so often not the case. Are you still sure you have a single customer view?

When a transaction is so much more than a transaction

20-30 years ago, light years in the marketing world, Single Customer Views were built from transaction files. In the digital age, thankfully, we have now moved on significantly from those days, but many of the Dinosaur data businesses have not. The Dinosaurs have not evolved as this is what their businesses have been built on, it would be a complete system change for all their clients to bring them up-to-date.

Digital databases work the other way around from these Dinosaurs. They are based first and foremost on the unique customer view, with cross device tracking playing an important part in ensuring one customer is seen as one customer. This is then augmented with their behavioural activity collected directly from the website. Building a traditional transaction file into this database is then significantly more actionable. Behavioural data powers relevance: what your customer is looking at now; what they are really interested in and what they are most likely to buy next.

If you take one thing from this blog, please let it be the knowledge that you need to take action from your data, use the single customer view to enhance your relationship with your customers. In today’s world we must keep impressing our customers with relevance. Relevance leads to engagement and engagement leads to improved lifetime value. Which at the end of the day keeps us all in a job!

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