Perhaps the biggest fallacy about big data is that all this data lives together in a single, easily accessible place. In fact, the abstract notion of big data as one giant clump of data is a long way away from the reality – most data lives in silos.
Think about it: when different members of your marketing organization use different tools and applications, they aren’t all drawing from the same pool of data. They’re drawing from puddles of data that represent mere fragments of your total customer view. The on-site analytics give you one view, the email database gives you another. The point-of-sale system has one batch of data, your CRM has another.
The Data Onboarding Process
In short, there isn’t a cohesive connection between all these puddles of data. In particular, there isn’t a connection between online and offline data. Which is why so many marketers are turning to data onboarding – the process of anonymizing, matching and distributing data. Because it connects what you know offline to what you do online.
Data onboarding is a groundbreaking new development in the field of data-driven marketing, but one that most marketers still don’t know enough about. As a result, too few marketers know they need to even worry about the fact that their offline data isn’t connected to their online data.
So let’s look at three ways the gap between online and offline data hurts marketers – and why you need to care about data onboarding.
- Offline customer data is WAY bigger than we think
Based solely on the amount of attention it gets, offline can sometimes appear to be a forgotten footnote at the end of an old, dusty media studies textbook. In fact, in many markets, it’s the giant, silverback gorilla, commanding 90% of retail purchases, for instance. Or think about all those branch, call center, field service or conference interactions.
In no uncertain terms, your offline customer data may well represent more than half of everything your customer does and interacts with. An ‘online customer journey’ is actually just a fraction of the customer experience, but if you can’t see it, you can’t act on it.
- Without offline data, attribution models are half-blind
In a bid to connect the dots, the smartest marketers have started building attribution models to find out which media and creatives work. The trouble is, without the ability to include offline data in these models, you’re making broad decisions based on a narrow view.
If you can’t tell whether the conversion came from the TV spot or the banner ad, how can you know how which media worked best? More importantly, how can you allocate your budget when you don’t actually know where the conversions came from?
- A lack of data portability is a lack of operational agility
Big data is unwieldy to manage, difficult to prepare, and downright challenging to analyze, but the fractured mess of customer data silos that most organizations deal with hurts in another way – it makes it impossible to try new tools and connect new data sources.
By delivering a connection between offline and online data sources, data onboarding makes it a whole lot easier to use new tech and test new hypotheses – without losing the insight generated. Without it, every new experiment is hampered by a severely limited view of customer data.
The bottom line: the gaps between offline and online customer data are often huge and always debilitating, and data onboarding is the only way to bridge those gaps and tap into the massive potential of connected customer data.
What to Do Next?
Stop by our upcoming webinar to hear directly from top brand Sephora about how they are using data onboarding to impact their business.
This 5-Minute Primer on Data Onboarding slideshow is also a good resource to see how data onboarding works and how marketers are already using it to make a big difference.