Marrying Online and Offline Data

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ADOTAS – After years of marketing channel fragmentation, enterprise marketers are moving away from tactical, transactional marketing approaches toward a data-centric strategy that creates competitive advantage by consistently and persistently leveraging audience data across all online and offline marketing programs.

That’s the goal. But what we’re finding is that people are still getting their heads around some of the basics. Based on the best practices we’re seeing, here’s my recommendation for sequencing the steps toward a completely integrated data platform that makes a real audience-centric approach measurably effective.

1. Make sure you fully leverage your digital data as the first step.

What’s surprising is the great online data marketers already have that they don’t fully leverage. People think about capturing data from their own sites, which is good.

But think about the complete set of digital capabilities for data — why wouldn’t you integrate data from your email or advertising campaigns? Why not create a data feedback loop from your mobile and social programs? How about using data from your partners’ sites and programs?

Marketers spend a lot of money on advertising and get little insight in return. That’s a shame. You should get campaign performance, as well as the insights, from all your online programs.

2. Think about offline and online integration with respect to privacy.

First, when on-lining offline data, be sure to separate personally identifiable information (PII) and non-PII data in separate databases. It is easy enough to link such sources through a hashed, encrypted key.

Also, if you’re going through the effort to integrate offline data, start by testing the performance of your most valuable and unique offline data. For instance, only you have access to your customer loyalty and transaction data, whereas any third-party can tell you who is male or female, so your unique data will give you the greater advantage.

For example, in order to achieve ultimate success for a credit card marketer, we needed to utilize offline transaction data within our data management platform to develop the ideal audience model – so they could target not just people who signed up but who would use the card a lot.

This is a simple example, but the point is that it’s not as hard as you think to make the connection from offline to online. Through site registration and your email programs, even a little bit of data can provide a meaningful boost when you do predictive and look-alike modeling. Another approach to consider is matching services, but always be “privacy wary” of any service that is based on an email append model.

3. Properly manage the use of supplemental third-party data.

Third-party sources of data continue to come online, especially as offline data companies bring their own data online using the same techniques as in bullet 2. Recognize that the quality of each data source changes – much more in online than offline world.

There is constant flux with data and match partners ( i.e. the sites that let data providers collect data) especially in response to privacy pressures. So, as sources change, quality will change. Instead of assuming any provider will have consistent performance, you’ll need to assess third-party data on an ongoing basis to make sure it’s providing value.

4. Protect again data theft.

Often, marketers focus on making data actionable without having enough sensitivity to securing their wonderful asset. You would never give someone access to your customer database without approval and restrictions, so why would you let someone place tags on your digital properties and collect your data without control?

Make sure you know what data is being collected off your properties and that it adheres to your desires and policies. Better yet, don’t fall for the “use our free tools” trap because in the end, you may be better served with paying for your tools and not devaluing your data.

Whether you build or buy a data management platform, the end game should be to leverage the data from all your customer-facing channels — online and offline — and to optimize all your channels in a continuous cycle in order to create a true data advantage.

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