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Want to Surprise and Delight? Connect the Data First.

  • - Scott Howe
  • 5 min read

Brands strive to surprise and delight every day. This is not easy when consumer expectations are high and what seems easy on paper can be complex to execute. Case in point—a friend received a free one-year subscription to Disney+ when he signed up for an unlimited wireless plan with Verizon. What amazed him was the fact that as an existing subscriber, the credit was immediately applied to his account—he didn’t have to do anything, other than be impressed. We all know when a good customer experience happens to us. Too often, effective marketing is mistakenly perceived as hard selling when the real goal is making customers happy. 

The power of data connectivity

My friend’s experience with Verizon and Disney+ shows that small things make a big difference. It also illustrates that partnerships like this require a solid, privacy-first data infrastructure. The data sent from one brand to its partner to activate an advertised benefit must be stripped of directly identifiable personal data and shared in a privacy-conscious way. This is how seamless customer experiences, such as someone receiving Disney+ for free through their Verizon plan, work.

This is not easy in a time when most organizations still struggle to unify, control, and activate customer data internally. Imagine having this level of granularity in your customer base, and being able to securely share permissioned data with an external partner. This ability can be the difference between a company that thrives in challenging times and one that ceases to exist.

Beyond loyalty, these types of experiences can rebuild trust with consumers, underscoring the importance of using data in a way that respects their choices while promoting innovative ways to connect with them. While some existing technologies offer this vision at a high level, they were not built with marketers’ future data needs in mind.

Limitations of CDPs and DMPs

Neither a DMP nor a CDP would have been able to connect my friend’s data from Verizon to Disney+. DMPs still rely on cookies, even though cookie pools are decreasing daily and the end of browser support is coming fast. CDPs focus on directly identifiable personal data ingested from CRM systems, limiting their use for both internal and external collaborations. 

Enable seamless customer experiences with a new data infrastructure

In order to tie innovative data strategies to business growth, marketers and analysts must be able to collaborate and have long-standing roadblocks removed. Marketers cannot be limited in the types of data they use and analysts cannot continue to spend the bulk of their time organizing and processing data. A data infrastructure built with privacy by design addresses these pain points by promoting data access, working with different technologies, and enabling seamless customer experiences:

  • Start with data stewardship: Partnerships can only work with the technical and legal means for data collaboration. Clean rooms are one option, but they are usually owned and operated by walled gardens and publishers, not by brands. Brands have little say in the rules of engagement and gleaned insights are limited to what the walled gardens want to provide.
    To truly own your data destiny, you must have access to a secure data environment that meets legal and technical requirements. Having this will facilitate partnership conversations with key stakeholders and make it easier to get started.
  • Access the data you need: Collaboration can begin when a neutral workspace is in place for first-, second-, and third-party data to be accessed and analyzed in a privacy-centric manner. For Verizon and Disney+, this likely involved comparing Verizon’s subscriber base to Disney+’s audience without sharing directly identifiable personal data. From here, they could have used additional data to understand who in this target audience would enjoy testing out a new streaming service and eventually subscribe.
    All of this can be time consuming without an infrastructure that offers tailored privacy controls to ensure that data use matches its permissioning between partners. This level of transparency was once only part of advanced data strategies at companies with the resources to create and manage them from a technology, privacy, and infosec perspective. Now, it’s table stakes. 
  • Work with existing technology: Once a sizable audience is built, the next step is to prepare for activation. This is an area where partnerships can stall or stumble—any marketer can tell you about a promising partnership stifled by mismatched technologies. Now, the imperative is for technologies to be interoperable. Marketers should expect nothing less in order to consistently respect consumer choice. When marketing technologies use the same data in its original context, marketers are able to apply more precise data controls to uphold consumer privacy.

Beyond giving consumers control over their data, interoperability ensures minimal—if any—changes to existing tech stacks, enabling turnkey activation. This should be music to the ears of any marketer who has ever had to wait for an integration to be built. 

  • Offer seamless experiences: When deciding to partner, Verizon and Disney+ may have also considered how to best reach their target audience. My friend might have received a renewal notice including the offer while someone who bought a new home might have been sent a direct mailer for Verizon FiOS.
    By leveraging the same data infrastructure for audience building, analytics, and activation across channels, both brands can maintain addressability of their target audience and also enhance their knowledge of this unique subset. 

Imagine the possibilities at your organization and you can easily see the benefits of a data infrastructure that puts stewardship first and supports data access, interoperability, and seamless customer experiences. With each interaction, you’ll build a stronger understanding of your audience—intelligence you can use to deepen brand affinity and drive loyalty. This is a winning strategy for companies in any industry, and it all starts with an investment in data connectivity

By connecting more disparate data internally and externally, you’re well positioned to extract more value from what you know, drive long-term business growth, and build an even deeper base of happy, loyal customers.

This article first appeared in The Drum. View the original article here.