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Apr 06, 2022
6 minutes read

Why Unify Customer Data (And How a Customer Data Platform Can Help)

Customer personalisation is in hot demand these days — customers want it, and businesses want to deliver it. For your business to do personalisation right, start by unifying your customer data with a customer data platform.

Would you prefer to buy from:

  1. A business that addresses you by name and knows exactly what you like, or
  2. A business that treats you as a faceless customer and has no clue about your preferences or interests?

It’s the first business, we’re guessing.

Customers have no shortage of businesses to shop from, and the businesses that can offer a personalised experience are the ones that will gain their favour.

Just take it from customers themselves: in a Next in Personalisation 2021 Report issued by McKinsey, the management consulting firm found that 72% of consumer-respondents expected businesses they bought from to:

  • Recognise them as individuals, and
  • Know their interests.

Similarly, 71% of respondents expected businesses to deliver personalised experiences.

To personalise the customer experience, you’ll need to extensively understand your customers through unifying your customer data. This involves feeding your data into a Customer Data Platform (CDP), which then combines the data to produce a holistic view of each customer.

Through analysing these customer profiles and feeding them into the other platforms in your tech stack, you can then serve up the bespoke experience that customers seek. Read on as we shed light on the importance of unifying your customer data, and how a CDP can help do so.

3 Reasons to Unify Your Customer Data

1. Eliminate Data Silos

Your business may already have a large amount of data on your customers. However, if these data points are scattered across various platforms, then capitalising on them becomes a challenge.

For a start, your marketing team will need to extract the data from the different platforms. After that, it has to review the data to sift out repeated and redundant data points.

It’s only after the data has been cleaned that it is ready for use. In a time when businesses are expected to be nimble, such tasks only slow you down.

By unifying your customer data, you break down the data silos in your business, which then helps you:

2. Create Comprehensive Customer Profiles

When you have your customer data all in one place, combining data points to create customer profiles becomes a breeze.

For instance, perhaps you sell trainers, and Customer A first landed on your store’s homepage through a Google search. He signed up for your email newsletter, sharing his email address with you in the process.

Customer A didn’t open the first email in your welcome email campaign. However, he opened the second one and clicked a link to your store page. From there, he bought a pair of Converse trainers to be delivered to his mailing address — which you now have a record of.

All this activity can be tracked to create a comprehensive compilation of the personal data that Customer A has shared with your business, as well as his activity on your channels. Repeat this for your other customers, and you’ll have data-rich profiles on how customers discover and interact with your business.

3. Provide a Personalised Customer Experience on All Touchpoints

With a detailed understanding of your customers, you can then create a VIP customer experience on all touchpoints. For example, we’ve seen:

  • A global online travel agency saves users’ hotel searches on its website, so it can suggest other nearby hotel properties to returning users,
  • A popular online fashion retailer recommends related products based on users’ order histories, and
  • A financial portal serves targeted Instagram ads to users of its website.

Providing a customised experience helps you address customers’ pain points quicker, where the solution could be using your service or buying your products. This can in turn translate into higher conversions and sales for your business.

What Customer Data Points Should You Look Into Unifying?

While your business can come into contact with customer data from multiple sources, you’ll want to unify your “first-party” data.

This is data on your customers that your business has collected, as opposed to customer data that you’ve acquired from a third-party source (such as “second-party” and “third-party” data).

First-party data includes:

  • Personal information, such as a customer’s first name, last name, birth date, and mailing address
  • Contact details, such as email address and mobile number
  • Website activity, such as the web pages viewed and links clicked
  • eCommerce histories, such as products browsed, order history, and promotional coupon use

Importantly, you’ll need to be able to identify which data belongs to which individual when building your customer profiles. This is what makes first-party data the gold standard when you’re unifying your customer data, unlike non-personalised second-party and third-party data.

How Can a Customer Data Platform Help Unify Your Customer Data?

When unifying your customer data, you’ll need to store all your customer data in one place — which is where a CDP comes in.

This software automatically cleans and aggregates customer data obtained from various sources to create profiles of your customers. When you pull up a customer profile in your CDP, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of your data on that particular customer, which you can then use in your marketing efforts.

The comprehensiveness of your customer profiles depends on the amount of data you’ve fed to your CDP. Accordingly, the more platforms you integrate with your CDP, the richer your profiles will be. For example, the CDP in our Mobile Marketing Cloud platform uses APIs, webhooks, and CSV imports to flexibly connect with your business’s other platforms and unify your data.

Your CDP will also update your customer profiles on the fly. This ensures that you get an accurate snapshot of your customers’ online behaviour at any point in time, to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing.

Why Not Use a Data Management Platform or Customer Relationship Management Platform to Unify Customer Data?

Apart from CDPs, data management platforms (DMPs) and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms also collect and store customer data. However, they aren’t the most ideal for unifying such data.

A DMP compiles and organises data into large data sets, such as “users who live in the United States,” “female users,” or even “female users who live in the United States.” While these data sets can be useful for certain purposes, such as ad targeting, their data is anonymised.

In other words, you’ll know that the users in a data set share common characteristics, but you won’t be able to find out anything else about a certain user in that data set. Not the most helpful when you want to build profiles on individual users.

CRMs do a bit better in creating separate customer profiles. Using a CRM, you’ll typically save records of each customer’s interactions with your business, such as meeting history, support conversations, and won and lost deals (and the reasons for these).

However, CRM data often needs to be manually entered. This leaves room for human error or even omission if a staff member forgets to key something in. Different people also have different ways of taking notes, and such non-standardisation of data can make it difficult to get a consistent picture of your customers.

Explore the differences between CRM, CDP and DMP Platforms.

Data Unification Made Easy With Mobile Marketing Cloud

When utilised in the right way, customer data can be a crucial asset in helping your business understand its customers and deliver personalized experiences. This calls for investing in a powerful CDP that unifies your customer data and presents actionable insights for future marketing campaigns.

CM.com’s Mobile Marketing Cloud is designed for seamless customer data unification. It accepts data points from a wide range of platforms and uses them to build clean, comprehensive profiles of every customer. After that, the platform’s marketing automation workflows leverage your customers’ previous behaviour to deliver the most appropriate next interaction.

Mobile Marketing Cloud’s built-in mobile messaging channels also effortlessly connect you with your customers on their preferred channels to facilitate greater goodwill toward your business. Explore Mobile Marketing Cloud to learn its data unification capabilities and how it can help your business take personalisation to the next level.

Learn how to unify your customer data today

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