The customer journey is no longer just about a trip to the mall or a click of a mouse. Today’s consumers use a variety of online and offline channels along their path to purchase and have come to expect a seamless experience from start to finish. Gaining a panoramic view of the customer across touchpoints has long been the marketer’s holy grail, but now it’s an imperative for success.
Yet capturing that complete picture has been elusive and laden with obstacles: leveraging first-party data, merging activity across multiple channels and devices, and resolving customer identity. These are the stepping stones to knowing your fast-moving, multi-screening customers on a one-to-one basis.
Signal wanted to find out where marketers stood in their quest to unlock the coveted single view of the customer and gain insight into the entire customer journey. In March 2015, Signal conducted a global online survey of 171 brand and agency marketers in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, spanning more than 17 verticals.
Signal’s Single View of the Customer survey yielded three important findings:
- For most brands, collecting and matching siloed and fragmented engagement data remains a nearly-impossible task. An overwhelming majority of marketers know that building a unified view of the customer is essential to their ability to deliver true one-to-one marketing. But only a tiny sliver of marketers have reached that sought-after goal.
- Data fragmentation is a central obstacle towards achieving a full, unobstructed view of customer engagement, with over half of marketers saying incomplete or disconnected data hinders critical goals such as marketing measurement and personalization.
- Despite the challenges, marketers rank cross-channel identity and a unified view as a critically important prize that will allow them to offer superb user experiences, strengthen their customer relationships and increase the return on their marketing investments.
These survey results make it clear that for marketers seeking a full, unified view of their customers across channels and devices, building a strong data foundation is a must. That means collecting and matching first-party data in a centralized hub should be a top priority. In addition, taking a strategic approach to resolving customer identity, and building up lasting profiles and matching capabilities as an ongoing process should be emphasized.
Modern marketers find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place: On one hand, they realize that customers expect to be instantly recognized and understood, no matter the touchpoint. Marketers want to optimize their marketing mix and experiment with new methods for delighting customers with personalized and seamless experiences.
On the other hand, marketers’ ability to see the entire customer journey has been severely constrained by technology that wasn’t built for the realities of a cross-channel world. The typical brand has a siloed technology stack that is not designed to fully gather and centralize data in order to drive broad insights and power key cross-channel capabilities, such as measurement, attribution, media targeting, content personalization and ad message customization.
The result is fragmented data and multiple, incomplete customer profiles. Marketers can’t accurately measure cross-channel campaigns, because they can’t attribute a customer’s behavior to certain channels and therefore cannot fully understand the shopper’s path to purchase. For example, many marketers aren’t collecting sufficient mobile data, or aren’t merging mobile data with web data. As a result, they can’t know with certainty whether a customer engaged with mobile, or with both mobile and web, or which of the two channels triggered conversion.
Times have changed: in the old days of digital marketing, when over 90% of customer interactions with brands happened in the desktop computer browser, tracking ad-exposure frequency with third-party cookies was enough. That is incredibly difficult today, with digital advertising spread among a large number of channels and devices. Without first gathering and then matching the right data, marketers cannot create accurate customer profiles from which to measure their