Complete customer data is the foundation of effective marketing
In today’s fast-moving society, dynamic consumer contact information and multiple interactions continue to challenge marketers. Thus, having complete customer data is more important than ever. Complete customer data provides the foundation to ensure that marketing messages reach individuals. With the upcoming phase-out of cookies, marketers need to focus on enhancing their customer data. I had a chat with Megan Strub, Identity Leader at Equifax, to learn more about the challenges that companies are experiencing with their customer data.
Why is having complete customer information so important for marketers?
Megan: Marketers rely on consumer data to support their marketing campaigns. Marketers want their offers and messages to reach their target audiences, whether they are marketing to new prospects, occasional shoppers, or best customers. Accurate and complete customer data is critical for marketers. It helps marketers deliver their message to each individual in their target audience. This can translate into a better customer experience and deepened engagement.
Where does customer data come from?
Megan: Customer data comes from plenty of sources. Customers provide data every time they buy or transact with a company. Consumers may also offer up information when they fill out surveys or polls, or favorite an item. Then, there is data that companies collect about consumers. This data is often collected through cookies – like their online browsing habits or other sites they have visited. Some companies also buy prospect lists and that gets added to their CRM databases as well. Companies can also work with third-party vendors to fill in gaps in their customer records.
Why is managing customer data so hard?
Megan: One reason is that technology has allowed consumers to have more than one face. What I mean is, many consumers have multiple email addresses and phone numbers. Some consumers even use multiple names when they are interacting with companies – such as married vs. maiden names, nicknames, initials, and even fake names. In addition, consumers change their residences, or use a PO Box – and that results in multiple addresses. All of these factors translate into a huge challenge for marketers. Their customer databases and CRM systems can get quite muddy with all this disparate contact information. This data can be inaccurate, incomplete, or inconsistent.
How effective are companies at connecting all of this data across their organization?
Megan: We hear this challenge all the time – companies have many databases, all with consumer contact information that doesn’t sync up. Some companies struggle to connect the information in their offline and online marketing databases, and then there may be separate databases for loyalty and customer service programs. Plus, there is even more customer data residing in billing, collections, and partner databases. That’s a lot of customer data to manage and try to link and align.
Let’s circle back to cookies. If they disappear, how will that impact marketers?
Megan: The latest from Google is that they will end third-party cookies by the end of 2024. Once that happens, it will be more difficult for marketers to collect behavioral information about their prospects and customers. Marketers will know less about their customers, which may result in less effective advertising.
It will become even more important for marketers to have accurate customer information direct from consumers or third-parties. Marketers should be focusing on this now. As marketers initiate new programs such as web forms, surveys, or “give-to-get” programs in an attempt to collect more information from consumers, marketers will need to have a way to weave all that data into their existing customer databases and CRM systems.
What are some of the ways that complete customer data can help marketers get their message out and enhance the customer experience?
Megan: Customer data is important for virtually every type of company that sells to consumers.
Let’s take a look at a large auto dealer with multiple locations. Prospective customer Mike wants to buy a car. Over the course of several months, Mike connects with the dealer via chat, phone, website form, and a personal visit.
But, he doesn’t use the same contact information for each interaction. Instead he uses an abbreviated name, a work or cell number, and multiple email addresses. How can the dealer know if this is all the same person? Will Mike have a positive customer experience? Will the dealer miss a sale?
Here’s another example. A consumer with a deposit account calls his bank to request rates for a new personal loan. But the bank’s lending representative has no access to the bank’s deposit customer base and thus does not realize the consumer is actually already a customer. This could result in a missed opportunity to expand the relationship.
Retailers are another group that relies on customer data. For example, an online retail store might have a consumer’s email and physical address. But if the consumer moves and then visits a physical store of the same brand, that store might only have the consumer’s new address. With up-to-date consumer data, the brand can discover this is actually the same person and tailor future promotions and communications.
Even companies in the entertainment and consumer products industries can benefit from more complete customer data. For example, companies that sell alcohol need to take age into consideration as part of their targeting for online advertising campaigns. Besides, all types of companies can save budget by not marketing to consumers who are (sadly) deceased.
How else can marketers use consumer insights to enhance their targeting?
Megan: When it comes to effective marketing, ensuring your CRM system has accurate consumer data and identifying consumers with interest in your brand are both helpful. What’s even better is understanding if a consumer likely has the financial capacity to buy or invest in your company’s products and services. Marketers can use measures of consumer affluence, spending power, and financial durability to differentiate audiences that are more likely to buy - even during inflationary times. Then, marketers can execute marketing campaigns to target these audiences with relevant promotions and offers.
In summary, what does this mean for marketers who want to enhance their customer targeting and communications?
Megan: Marketers need to focus on ensuring their customer records are accurate, complete, consistent, and linkable across their organization. Marketers need to be able to differentiate consumers that are most likely to be able to take advantage of their promotions and deliver their messages to this audience. When companies work with Equifax, we help them tackle their customer information challenges and fuel their marketing campaigns to reach the best audiences.
Reach out to your account manager or contact us to learn more about Equifax’s customer marketing and targeting solutions.