If there’s one key factor defining whether a business is going to be successful in the future, it’s how well it uses, acts on and manages its data. Businesses that put data at the centre of their operations are sure to see huge improvements, from increased revenue, to improved efficiency, greater customer loyalty, higher profits and increased market capitalisation – to name a few.
See data in a new light
The first step to unlocking the true value of your data is finding out what you are currently collecting across the entire business, where it’s stored and in what format. Unfortunately, this isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Software solutions can be acquired cheaply and easily, but they rarely offer any central strategy or oversight. These are generally good for solving problems quickly, but often result in information silos, which actually hampers the process of integration.
The good news is, purpose-built customer intelligence software can often help to break these silos down, by making data centrally available via one common platform. Be sure to also consider which other departments might benefit from the data you’re collecting and encourage them to make use of it. Once departments see the benefits of data sharing, they’ll be more likely to impart their own.
Understand the value of your data
The value of data has changed over the years. Initially it could only be used to find out the results of a particular campaign. This was known as descriptive analytics. Now, with high quantities of data available, businesses can engage in predictive analytics, allowing them to forecast the most likely result of a particular marketing message or activity. And with high speed analytics, companies can now work out what will drive customer behavior, at that precise point in their journey. Take Amazon, for example. By examining the purchasing patterns of their customers, they can compare them to similar transactions and then produce personalised recommendations for what customers might want to buy next.
Be wary of walled gardens
Protecting your customer data doesn’t just mean keeping it safe from hackers. It also means limiting access by third-party “walled garden” environments like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. On the one hand, these platforms have enormous reach, and the user data they collect allows them to deliver highly targeted advertising. On the other hand, these platforms use the data they collect for themselves, only sharing aggregated, partial reports with their clients.
This has two significant implications. Firstly, if a customer has interacted with your brand within a walled garden, you won’t be able to access the entirety of the data surrounding that interaction. This results in a fragmented, inconsistent and frustrating experience for your customer. Secondly, walled gardens sell their services to anyone willing to pay, allowing your competitors to target people interested in your products or services.
One thing is clear – the more data you collect, the more you’ll understand your customers’ behaviour. And when you have an efficient customer intelligence plan in place, you’ll be in a better position to predict their behaviour. Following this, you’ll be able to target them with the types of messages most likely to add value—for both of you.
Once your customer analytics is in place and the whole business is working from the same single view of the customer, every customer interaction with your business will feel coherent and consistent. That’s the hallmark of the customer experiences delivered by the world’s most successful brands.