Data strategyAugust 16, 2017

Customer data strategy fundamentals: Business strategy and discovery

Customer data strategy fundamentals: Business strategy and discovery

Today’s consumers take the multi-screen world for granted, switching seamlessly between devices like it’s second nature. But for marketers, the multi-screen world has added a lot of complexity as they must now create a consistent user experience across devices and coordinate diverse systems and resources in order to do so.

Albert Einstein once put it, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Before going out and procuring any more technologies, or collecting more data, companies often need to take a step back and define an overarching data plan that’s well aligned with the needs of the business.

The following five steps can help you get on your way.

Set your scope

First and foremost, you need to set your scope; and in today’s multi-screen world, that scope needs to be holistic, taking into account a wide view of customer data across various channels and use cases. Although having a holistic data strategy wasn’t always a necessity, it has become one. As we’ve said before, customers demand seamless, omnichannel experiences, and the only way to deliver on these demands is to eliminate the silos that separate data by channel (e.g. web, email, etc.) and discipline (e.g. advertising, CRM, etc). traditional ones.

Outline your business objectives

After setting your scope, you need to clarify what business problem(s) it will solve. Some of the most common objectives include improving measurement, creating more seamless, personalized experiences, boosting operational efficiencies, accelerating speed to market with new growth initiatives, and mitigating risk. Whatever your objectives, ensuring alignment and a clear understanding of value among stakeholders is critical.

Define your current state

Next, it’s time to evaluate your baseline to better understand your current state and the challenges it presents. As you conduct this evaluation, you should:

  • Review your customer journey to understand where along that journey users create data and what type of data matters most in light of your objective

A customer journey framework, such as the three-step Acquisition, Behavior, Outcome model or the more involved Pirate Metrics Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue model, can help.

  • Compile and review any documentation that exists around current measurement plans and data sources
  • Sync with stakeholders on existing tools and processes used to collect and action data
  • Assess your current privacy and security policies and research potential changes in the regulatory landscape
  • Consider your org’s requirements around speed and agility and what they mean in terms of flexibility and scalability for your data plan
  • Discuss limitations of the current setup with project sponsors

Envision your desired future state

Once you’ve outlined your goals and benchmarked where you stand, you need to envision the ideal future state that will help you achieve those objectives and resolve the challenges you face currently. Once again, you need to confirm a shared understanding of this vision and ensure it aligns closely with your objectives. You can break down your desired future state into three categories:

  • Consumer experience: What will your customer journey look like in a world of fully connected and coordinated multi-screen marketing?
  • Measurement and isight: What are key business questions you’ve struggled to answer today but will be able to resolve once the new strategy is implemented?
  • Marketing effectiveness: What are some of the lead marketing use cases that will generate measurable business outcomes and really rally the organization? For instance, will you reduce cost per acquisition by X% through the use of highly personalized content and offers, or will you improve retention rates by Y% through better churn prediction and faster issue resolution?

Conduct a gap analysis

Lastly, conduct a gap analysis to determine what it will take to get from your current state to your desired future state. Specifically, you should evaluate the gaps that exist in terms of data (sources, structures, and quality), organization (people, processes, and policies) and technology (data infrastructure, engagement tools, and insight tools).

You can then use the results of your gap analysis to understand what capabilities you need to enable going forward (good benchmarks for progress are one, three and five years out), outline potential changes in the environment that might pose risks along the way and define roles for key stakeholders in achieving your goals.

Make building your data plan a team effort

As you go through these steps, it’s critical to consult with and ensure alignment among all relevant stakeholders. These stakeholders should include representatives from across the business who will use the data (e.g. marketing, sales, product managers) as well as technical representatives who handle the various systems that house the data. Additionally, it’s important to include front line users in these discussions who can speak directly to how they use data and what exactly they need to do their jobs more effectively.

Having taken these steps, you will have ensured alignment among stakeholders and have a strong sense of direction in terms of what you’d like the data plan to achieve.

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