What should be the ‘condicio sine qua non’ of all marketing data ecosystems?

The answer is very obvious, but very often overlooked; a marketing data hub or customer data platform that joins together all the front end and back end data.

Underpinning virtually all the multitude of martech applications there is the ever-present need for a solid data hub into which, and off which, they can all feed.

For instance, take website personalisation; it clearly doesn’t make sense to focus the nature and content of a tailored customer experience based just on their recent browsing, when you could also know if that individual was a loyal and steady customer or someone who was only cruising for sale offers.

Or how can you respond to a subject access request under GDPR if your email service provider and order processing system are not in some way linked around individual customer identities.

So what are the key elements in a customer data hub?

– A means of joining together every data item that relates to an individual using all possible match-keys from cookie IDs to postal addresses
– Persistent ingestion and storage from all on-line and off-line sources of every item of data from individual transactions to inbound or outbound contacts without summarisation or concatenation
– Accessibility to other systems both for ingestion and exportation of data that is relevant for that application
 

There is also the critical organisational element; the data hub is far more likely to be successful, and to provide value, if it is owned and manged by marketeers who get the reason for having it.

This doesn’t mean that the development of a data hub is simple and not needing to be built in collaboration with IT experts. Data is also often untidy or in need of modification like miss-spelt addresses.

There is also a plethora of potential data sources to be fed into the hub, such as:

– Order processing systems (e.g. for order read donation for charities, and policies for insurers)
– Website browsers
– Call center contacts
– Email service providers
– Third party data sources like lifestyle overlays or prospect lists
– Identity resolution tables such as gone-aways
– Loyalty card applications
– Appointment booking systems

to name but a few we have encountered.

And then the hub once fed has to drive an ever-growing array of marketing tools. At a very high level these tools either support insights or actions. Typical examples include:

– Dashboards and data visualisation
– Digital personalisation
– Email service providers
– Campaign selections and response analysis
– Contact centres
– DMPs for digital media targeting
– Customer research
 
Our view is that marketeers who plan their technology eco-systems without first planning a customer data hub are giving themselves an ever-growing problem. On the other hand, get the data hub right, and there is no limit to what can grow out of it.