Depending on who you talk to, the cookie is either dying or dead. These little bits of code which have, for years, been the foundation of tracking and understanding digital consumers are fading away in the face of privacy concerns.
Understanding Customer Experience Data Management
Where does this upheaval in the online landscape leave brands keen to engage effectively with consumers in this increasingly competitive and noisy realm?
And, how do you build targeting methods and understanding of customers in a constantly shifting landscape?
Let’s start by considering the major repositories of data which tend to be available to brands to better understand and connect with consumers. Most companies are awash with text data, for instance, which can be applied to marketing, but it’s not always in the hands of the marketing department. More broadly, data assets tend to include:
Customer experience data: First-party data from customer interactions
Market insight data: Data collected in the course of market research
Walled garden data: Data held by platforms such as Facebook and Google
Cookie data: Data available from third-party providers
With cookie data set to disappear as the industry knows it and market research data often under-utilized, customer experience data is where much ‘gold’ resides – holding massive potential for the development of improved engagement and acquisition strategies.
What’s more, there’s no doubt that first-party data, in general, will become far more important. While substantial budgets will still go to walled garden data providers, it remains unwise for any brand to over-commit its strategy to any one area and to become overly dependent on external platforms.
So where should companies focus their attention?
The answer lies in the places where customers interact directly with you. Indeed, given that first-party data is set to become the primary focus of future-facing organizations, from brands to publishers, customer experience teams need to extract value from this data and get ready for a wave of innovation and demand.
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We are already seeing innovation in the form of increased blending of approaches and the layering of new technologies to rethink how the data they are already sitting on can be applied. Take, by way of example, the combination of open-ended survey technology with first-party quant segmentation databases, with many starting to add open-end surveys on top of their segmentation data to glean more holistic insights, quickly and efficiently.
Consider, too, a segmentation database which contains detailed first-party data about a customer base. This is often approached by categorizing the classic buyer personas which represent customer segments. This tells you who you think they are.
However, layer on open-ended survey results to these segments to see a far richer view. Asking these segments what they think of your service, or a potential ad, or a suggested new service – and then listening to, and understanding, what they say – reveals a great deal.
It may be, for instance, that there are no real differences to be found in attitude between the segments you initially defined as being fundamentally different. Or, this approach could show that the most significant differences in customer opinions don’t fall across the neat lines of segmentation that have already been built into your database.
One thing is clear, though: Gone are the days of ‘one and done’ data analysis.
By layering customer experience data – and comparing it, you can get more value out of it, with customer experience and marketing data boundaries becoming increasingly blurred, offering a much rounder and accurate view of audiences.
Doing this successfully calls for:
- A rethinking of the labels of what is thought of as ‘marketing data’ and what is ‘customer experience data’
- Professionals in all groups being open to collaboration, with leadership grasping the opportunities this presents
- Analytics and technology partners being able to operate on a multi-use case basis.
None of this is easy. In fact, organizational challenges abound; frequently alongside limited understanding not only of where data is but also around how to successfully access it. On top of these internal obstacles, it’s also critical to obtain management buy-in. As cookies continue to phase out and marketers seek innovative ways to understand their audiences, however, there’s no doubt that improved access and technology-driven analysis surrounding first-party data will be fundamental to future success.
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