The most valu­able data for your com­pany is the infor­ma­tion gleaned from your own vis­i­tors. Data gath­ered first­hand, and ide­ally observed in real time, is the dig­i­tal marketer’s holy grail. Only it’s com­pletely unlike the holy grail of leg­ends; this one is hid­ing in plain sight, well within your grasp.

First­hand Data is Unique and Relevant

Your inter­nal, first-party data is pretty well guar­an­teed to be both unique and rel­e­vant. When peo­ple spend time on your site, fill in reg­is­tra­tion forms, or speak to cus­tomer sup­port, they’re giv­ing you autho­rized access to the most applic­a­ble data for your busi­ness. Yet many of us are so dis­tracted by the daz­zling claims of exter­nal, third-party, and other kinds of fancy-pants data that we let the good stuff slip through our fingers.

CRM Is Where It’s At

Cus­tomer rela­tion­ship man­age­ment (CRM) han­dles all the juicy infor­ma­tion col­lected from vis­i­tor inter­ac­tions. In a per­fect world, CRM makes this data cur­rent, con­sis­tent, and avail­able across your sales, ser­vice, tech sup­port, and mar­ket­ing silos.

Pop quiz: How well acquainted are you with your CRM?

a. My what?

b. We met that one time

c. We do lunch once a month

d. We hang out all the time

If your answer is d, give your­self a pat on the back. If it’s a, b, or c, get out your plan­ner and start mak­ing dates—it’s time to cozy up to your CRM sys­tem, team, and, yes, data.

But What if We Don’t Have CRM?

You do. Maybe you don’t own a fancy CRM sys­tem, but one way or another, you man­age your rela­tion­ship with cus­tomers. You might call them vis­i­tors, read­ers, sub­scribers, view­ers, mem­bers, sup­port­ers, or fol­low­ers. The point is you inter­act with them, and hope­fully, they inter­act with you. And where there is inter­ac­tion, there is data (even if it’s not recorded or analyzed).

So read on for how you can turn your customer-data runoff into a valu­able stream of insight pow­er­ing dig­i­tal per­son­al­iza­tion and con­ver­sion rates.

Inte­grate Your CRM Silos

CRM data exists in mul­ti­ple forms and loca­tions. The var­i­ous types of data are rarely well inte­grated, which is why so many go to waste.

Broadly speak­ing, there are two cat­e­gories of CRM: offline and online. Accord­ing to a Digiday/Acxiom State of the Indus­try sur­vey, 70 per­cent of mar­keters can­not (or do not) bring their offline data online. Our vis­i­tors exist in a mul­ti­chan­nel mar­ket­place, so why don’t we?

Start with bring­ing these two silos together, then work on syn­chro­niz­ing the data. The dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing team gets a boost of unique and rel­e­vant data to enhance online per­son­al­iza­tion. The sales team gets to see the online behav­ior that led a vis­i­tor to pick up the phone.

Online Data

Most of us are already cap­tur­ing and pay­ing atten­tion to online vis­i­tor behav­ior and inter­ac­tions. These include brows­ing his­tory, exter­nal refer­rers, and vis­i­tor path; reg­is­tra­tion forms and shared social data; IP geolo­ca­tion; third-party data; and chat records with online ser­vice reps.

It’s the offline vis­i­tor data that escapes us.

Offline Data

The offline CRM engine gen­er­ates quality—and qualified—leads with per­sonal and spe­cial­ized vis­i­tor information.

  • The Why’s and the How’s

Sales and cus­tomer ser­vice teams are privy to vis­i­tors’ high­est expec­ta­tions and most urgent ques­tions. They also have the oppor­tu­nity to dig deeper than the stan­dard reg­is­tra­tion data (phone, email, address, indus­try) and get to the why’s and how’s: Why did you ditch our prod­uct after the demo? How did you hear about us? Why did you spring for the upgrade? How can we improve your user experience?

  • Unquan­tifi­able Behaviors

Con­sumers are mul­ti­di­men­sional, and they cer­tainly don’t make all their buy­ing deci­sions online. By look­ing at offline behavior—and inte­grat­ing this with the online data—you gain a more com­plex and accu­rate por­trait of your visitors.

  • In-Store and Point-of-Sale (POS) Data

Brick-and-mortar buy­ing behav­ior is an impor­tant ele­ment of that com­plex and accu­rate vis­i­tor por­trait. A study by POPAI shows that “now more than ever shop­pers are mak­ing an over­whelm­ing num­ber of their pur­chas­ing deci­sions in-store.” While most of this could be hap­pen­ing on a mobile device in-store, ser­vice reps get to observe some of the decision-making process, and then those deci­sions might ulti­mately be cap­tured at POS.

Inte­grat­ing Online and Offline Inter­ac­tions in the Real World

A large office sup­ply retailer began work­ing with Adobe to fol­low indi­vid­ual vis­i­tors from online to offline and back again. Their new­found behav­ioral data revealed that online mar­ket­ing was hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant impact on in-store sales. They used this insight to improve prod­uct tar­get­ing online and saw an imme­di­ate spike in offline con­ver­sion rates.

By inte­grat­ing the data from every vis­i­tor touch­point, be it a POS retail sys­tem, vis­i­tor sup­port phone line, or Web check­out page, they were able to opti­mize the over­all shop­ping expe­ri­ence across chan­nels. If a vis­i­tor had recently pur­chased a lap­top in-store, they were shown the best deals on print­ers or exter­nal hard dri­ves the next time they logged on to the web­site. It’s this kind of per­son­al­ized con­tent that builds vis­i­tor loyalty.

Key Take­aways

1. Inter­ac­tion is Data

2. Inte­gra­tion is Powerful

Remem­ber and apply these two take­aways, and you will gain deeper insight into your vis­i­tors, enhance per­son­al­iza­tion across chan­nels, and see an uptick in con­ver­sion rates. When it comes to cus­tomer engage­ment, some of the best data is right under your nose.