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Four things to think about when developing your 360º data strategy

  • 4 min read

Understanding your customer journey is the core marketing task of the 21st century. Where before it was essentially a “black box” with campaigns going in and sales (hopefully) coming out, digital media and its associated data have shone a light in and started to illuminate what’s actually going on.

But as we’ve seen in the past few posts, just having data isn’t enough. It’s got to be the right data, at the right time, every time. That in turn means having a data strategy, one that encompasses the data you hold and can collect, other data collected elsewhere in your organisation, and data made available through partnerships.

So as you start to establish your 360º data strategy, here are four key things you need to think about.

1. How good is the relationship between marketing and the digital transformation team?

Almost every company is in the throes of digital transformation, and key to this is the desire to become more customer-centric. That means building a 360º view of the customer that can be accessed across the organisation, at every customer touchpoint, not just those which are the responsibility of the marketing department. As a result, there’s a risk of conflict between the demands of different departments. This could be individual departmental systems not talking to each other or not sharing data, or gaps appearing in the infrastructure at the points where departments’ requirements meet.

For this reason you need a good understanding between the CMO and the CIO. Beyond that, it’s crucial that marketing is taken seriously by the CEO, the CFO and the board, or its voice won’t be heard in the critical discussions to come.

2. Does your marketing thinking match the needs of the post-cookie world?

The impending removal of third-party cookies (3PC) from Google’s Chrome browser means we marketers have to think about how we communicate with consumers in a new way. It’s no longer about scale and cost reduction, it’s about high-quality communications with the right people. And the implications stretch all the way from bringing together online and offline data to thinking about how you buy and value media. We’re never going to get the volumes of authenticated users across publishers that we had in the third-party cookie world, because it’s now a question of high-value readers on publishers matching to high-value customers on the brand side.

3. Do you understand your customer journey?

In previous posts we’ve discussed the different types of data needed to influence customers at different stages of their path to purchase, and about how rarely companies have everything they require. We’ve also talked about how hard it is to see what you’re missing, to know what you don’t know. So at this stage you need to audit your customer journey and consider three things: what data you need; what data you hold (whether you know about it or not); and where you can source the rest.

It’s important here to take the blinkers off, to think beyond your regular sources of data, inside the organisation and outside. Allow yourself a bit of the blue sky thinking; if you worked with brand partner X or retailer Y, what would that help you achieve in terms of understanding the customer journey?

4. How are you going to make sense of the data you’re using, and measure the results you achieve?

The bottom line is that it’s not a matter of collecting data for the sake of it. It’s a question of collecting the right data, and then being able to connect it in such a way that you can derive insight.

So you need to think about how you’re going to visualise the data so you can see the pinch points through your customer journey, and make better decisions about how you address your customers across those points, whether that’s media, your website, email, et cetera. The result should be a unified omni-channel communication strategy.

Then the follow-on is how are you going to measure that? How will you make sure that each engagement through a specific channel is measurable in terms of core business outcomes?

A taste of the future

Danone is a great example of an organisation working through all these questions. Danone was facing changing media consumption patterns among its customers, and at the same time, as a CPG brand it was data-poor – with no retail outlets of its own, it didn’t have the data to reach large numbers of customers directly.

Danone worked with LiveRamp and data marketing experts Numberly to understand the impact of digital advertising on different audience segments and their paths to purchase at one large retailer, and to optimise omnichannel activations based on transactional data provided by that retailer. Numberly’s analysis also identified any missing data elements that would be needed for the test campaign.

The immediate result of the study was a 7.9% rise in conversion rate, along with increased traffic to, and engagement with, the Danone website. More importantly, it showed the way for Danone to own its data and build direct relationships with customers.

What all of this demonstrates is that a 360º data strategy is about a lot more than just data. Perhaps the most crucial change in the move to data-led, post-third-party-cookie marketing is one of mindset and culture. The new world is about sharing rather than siloes; quality rather than scale; a holistic approach rather than a cost-driven obsession with the sale. I’ll put this winning mindset under the microscope in my next post.