At this point in the nat­ural evo­lu­tion of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing prac­tices, most com­pa­nies have iden­ti­fied the need to be able to gather, ana­lyze, seg­ment and report on their mar­ket­ing and vis­i­tor infor­ma­tion. This is the required first step in the process of cre­at­ing a suc­cess­ful dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing prac­tice, but this step is one of many, not the des­ti­na­tion. My col­league Ben Gaines evolved into this real­iza­tion in his most recent blog post.

In order to truly lever­age dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing data in mean­ing­ful analy­sis and actions, you must be able to iden­tify your cus­tomers and how they are engag­ing with your brand. This is not lim­ited to one chan­nel or medium of data. Cus­tomers inter­act with brands in many dif­fer­ent ways; they can go online, they can call you, they can visit your stores, they can attend a sport­ing event you spon­sor, and the list goes on. The real­ity is that cus­tomers engage with brands in ways that most mar­ket­ing depart­ments do not account for in their typ­i­cal analy­ses. This means that mar­ket­ing deci­sions, intended to be made on cus­tomer inter­ac­tion and user behav­ior is being made on par­tial data. How can you make deci­sions that deter­mine the whole strat­egy when you only have half of the story? Addi­tion­ally, because the inter­ac­tions which in part or whole are attrib­ut­able to mar­ket­ing efforts are not known and ana­lyzed by mar­ket­ing, the asso­cia­tive rev­enue and return on mar­ket­ing effort is omit­ted from per­for­mance analy­sis and report­ing. Why are your efforts not being cred­ited in your company’s performance?

Cus­tomer Ana­lyt­ics, the abil­ity to under­stand cus­tomers as they under­stand brands regard­less of the medium for spe­cific cus­tomer inter­ac­tions, is quickly becom­ing fun­da­men­tal require­ment for all best-in-class mar­ket­ing depart­ments mov­ing for­ward. Mar­keters can usu­ally iden­tify the same cus­tomer in dif­fer­ent “Chan­nels” of data, but typ­i­cally this requires a sep­a­rate query per chan­nel of data. The rela­tion­ship between data sources or cus­tomer inter­ac­tion points is unknown. This in turn cre­ates a nat­u­rally divi­sive nature of not only inter­pret­ing but also tak­ing action on data. This also has a sig­nif­i­cant impact on how com­pa­nies align bud­gets, per­son­nel and resources. Typ­i­cally, ver­ti­cal align­ment within orga­ni­za­tions based on indi­vid­ual cus­tomer inter­ac­tion medium is what we see. This means that the call cen­ter may be inter­act­ing with cus­tomers in a for­eign, com­pet­i­tive or redun­dant way as the company’s email marketers.

It’s time to embrace the idea of treat­ing your cus­tomers as they treat your brands. A cus­tomer is not con­sciously decid­ing to jump from one inter­ac­tion medium to another when they research in store, com­par­a­tive shop online and pur­chase via a coupon received via email. Cus­tomers are migrat­ing through paths beyond just online, because they are inte­gral steps of a seam­less pur­chase and or repur­chase process. In addi­tion to the acqui­si­tion per­spec­tive, cus­tomers also migrate from low cost to high cost inter­ac­tions freely in order to gain infor­ma­tion, over­come chal­lenges and ensure proper sup­port. These inter­ac­tions are directly attrib­ut­able to the mar­ket­ing acqui­si­tion and reten­tion efforts and thor­ough analy­sis should reveal fric­tion­less and high fric­tion points that exist for the cus­tomer. These points of fric­tion, or areas where process improve­ments and effi­cien­cies can be imple­mented, are only rec­og­niz­able if the ana­lyst is able to wit­ness the entire cus­tomer inter­ac­tion from day one.

Cus­tomer ana­lyt­ics is not a new con­cept. The abil­ity to lever­age cus­tomer ana­lyt­ics for mar­keters, the speed at which that can be enabled and the oppor­tu­ni­ties it presents have the capac­ity to pro­pel mar­ket­ing depart­ments for­ward is deliv­er­ing on a long awaited vision. Here at Adobe, we are squarely focused in this space. Enabling mar­ket­ing to be able to wit­ness cus­tomer inter­ac­tions from ini­tial brand or prod­uct expo­sure for a prospect, through the engage­ment process and then dis­cover and lever­age the data sig­na­tures which enable reten­tion efforts, repur­chase and other mar­ket­ing objec­tives is where we have cho­sen to deliver the solu­tions required.