Customer Data

The Foundation for Customer-Centricity

Single customer view. Data-driven marketing. Personalization. These are the holy grails of marketing. But consumer marketers at older brands struggle to achieve them. Meanwhile, internet-first companies have redefined what’s possible using easy-to-manage data, out performing their legacy counterparts in personalization, customer experience, and targeting.

In response, hundreds of new technologies have emerged: site personalization tools, campaign managers, tag managers, better email service providers, and journey management tools. Each provides marketers with the ability to craft more individualized interactions, optimized for one or a few specific channels. This is local personalization.

Think Globally, Personalize Locally

Local personalization is useful, valuable, and worth pursuing. It means your emails trigger at the right moments, your site is personalized in real-time based on user interactions, and your DMP optimizes your ad spend based on a timely understanding of buyer intent.

But local personalization is less effective if it only sources local data. For example, if your email service provider is personalizing emails using only a subset of your online data, customers will get emails about items they’ve already purchased in-store, or for experiences they may have no interest in, or for products that they’ve never bought and never will. The same is true for ads, mobile app personalization, website personalization, and the interactions through any other touchpoint.

Thinking globally means fueling your local personalization tools and touchpoints with a comprehensive view of your customers that sources all the data you have. Considering the following data sources:

  • In-store/POS transactions
  • eCommerce
  • Clickstream
  • Email response data
  • Loyalty data
  • Customer support interactions
  • 3rd party data
  • Models and insights from analytics teams


It’s the global view that will allow you to offer the right products, discounts, and communications at just the right moments, driving higher engagement, customer satisfaction, revenue, and, ultimately, long-term loyalty.

Beware the CDP promise of a single customer view

Customer data platforms (CDPs) promise a single view of the customers, but there are many gotchas that will prevent you from getting there. CDPs also typically serve only marketing and don’t provide a global view that connects IT, analytics, customer experience, and marketing. Here are questions to ask when vetting a CDP:

  • Does it fuel your full variety of analytics, marketing, and customer success tools, teams, and channels with a consistent and complete customer view?
  • Does it use machine learning-powered identity resolution to link records that lack common keys, so you an unify all your data, or is it limited to fuzzy or deterministic matching?
  • Does it ingest raw data, so you don’t lose portions of your data during onboarding?
  • Can the platform unify point-of-sale data? What about in-person event or call center data? (these sources tend to be tricky for CDPs)
  • Does it handle the full scale of your data, including massive datasets like historical clickstream data?
  • Does it keep your data inside the platform, asking you to use its engagement or analytics capabilities, rather than best-of-breed products that specialize in local personalization?
  • Can you use it with all your existing tools and flexibly onboard new ones in the future?

Achieving customer-centricity

The path to customer-centricity requires the right people, processes, and technology. One of the very first steps is to bring the customer to the center of your organization by integrating, unifying, and leveraging the data that individuals share with you every day. Start by understanding your best customers – who they are, and why they love your brand and your products. Use the data they share to create meaningful and relevant experiences, retaining and upselling them. Understand their path and use that knowledge to encourage other customers to walk in their footsteps. Optimize the customer journey, create seamless experiences for everyone, encourage the right types of engagement. Over time you’ll gather more data via more channels and new initiatives to further evolve your mission. This is the step-by-step approach to becoming a customer-centric brand.


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