The first simple steps to integrating your marketing data

While integrated marketing campaigns are an expected component of growing a business today, being able to successfully merge offline and online data to get a more robust picture of marketing success is still a complex -- and daunting -- undertaking for most.

While the end goal of a single data repository for related customer data might initially be elusive, there are strategies for getting even the most complex organization closer to the end goal of a holistic view of consumer behavior. So where should you start?

First, start with an understanding of customer acquisition, retention, and lifecycle.

To begin compiling consumer intelligence in one repository, you first need a solid understanding of how consumers interact with your brand. Ask yourself questions like these to help frame your customer acquisition process in a way that illuminates which data points need to be tracked, aggregated, and analyzed:

Where do potential customers first hear about my brand and interact with it? How much exposure is required before an initial response occurs? What does that response look like? Am I capturing data about both my efforts to reach them and their responses?
What does the purchase decision making process look like for potential customers? Are they seeking information via search engines, the website, or social media after hearing about us somewhere else? How can I influence the different stages of the purchase process?
What do I currently know about how customers repurchase? What can I do to spur repurchase or influence the timing?

In answering these questions, you begin to get a picture of the type of data you will need to create successful marketing strategies. Which leads to the next step..

Second, understand where the data lives.

Most companies have separate repositories for website data, customer relationship management (CRM) data, and online/offline marketing data. However, customers move fluidly among these data repositories, and the trick for marketers is to follow them to make sense of customer behavior and track which marketing tactics are effective.

Third, understand how the data in one repository relates to data in another.

In order to understand how these data points relate to one another, let's look at a simplified sample customer interaction for a company that collects leads from its website and then passes them to a sales team to close offline.

1. A display ad is placed on a third-party website.

2. A visitor clicks on the display ad.

3. The visitor visits several product pages on the website and fills out a form for more information.

4. A sales representative contacts the visitor and further qualifies them.

5. The sales representative makes the sale.

In order for databases to share information with each other, there needs to be an identifier that is common to each database. Notice in our example that the Campaign ID is available in all three data repositories when the visitor fills out the form. If we used this piece of data as the key to tie data repositories together, theoretically we can share information that is unique to one database with any of the others.

Without being able to use data from the CRM system when evaluating the success of our marketing efforts, we could potentially be optimizing our marketing spend incorrectly. For example, a display ad might be cost effective at driving website visitors and the website might encourage them to fill out lead forms, but if the sales team cannot qualify them as solid business opportunities, all we are doing is getting unqualified visitors to the site at a low cost.

While integrated data analysis is complex and sometimes intimidating, start with something manageable so you can improve your marketing decisions and bottom line.

Kim Howard is director of analytics at Geary Interactive.

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Comments

Leslie Cawley
Leslie Cawley August 13, 2010 at 5:28 PM

I believe that Ms. Howard's stratgey of use of the Data Repository is a smart strategy for identifying strong opportunities for sales, clients and so forth for businesses to explore further. It is similiar to the SWAT analysis that a company would use to pick itself apart and put together again in order to see where it can impoove and increase it's strength in its particular segment of the market. The charts are broken down into simple sections that are easy to understand to fill in with the necessary data. Bravo to you Ms Howard on an excellent solution for making decisons more concrete.
Leslie K. cawley, author, This is My Normal