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How to Build a Better Data Strategy

Recently Merkle was named a Leader in data strategy and activation, one of only two companies. We’re proud of this accomplishment and want to share some of the best practices that we’ve found when building a better data strategy. Today, there are many challenges that organizations must tackle– like rapidly evolving privacy regulations on data collection, and big tech’s walled gardens that continue to grow higher. As a result, marketers are putting renewed emphasis on building owned first- and zero-party data to further build relationships with customers and prospects, maximizing the value of that data to define segments, personalization tactics, and engagement strategies.

Because of this growing emphasis, organizations need a data strategy and activation strategy that can:

Align to your strategic goals

Understand and align to the key initiatives of your organization will allow everyone to work toward the same mission. Start with the question you are trying to answer as an organization and build a data strategy that supports it. Simply collecting all data for data’s sake is not a beneficial or safe practice. What data do you need to be collecting to best meet these goals?

It is also critical to loop in the right stakeholders to champion this stage of the strategizing process. While it may be enticing to try to serve each of your business leader’s needs, this isn’t productive, especially at the start of the data strategizing process.

Bring data together in a unified data ecosystem

Organizations struggle with manual processing and operational complexities in ingesting, unifying, and activating data. Every business wants to deliver more relevant and personalized experiences, optimize channel performance, understand customer behavior, build more targeted audiences, and empower their sales reps. At the core, each of these outcomes leverage similar data.

Yet too often, each business group build their own siloed data constructs from the ground up. This redundant practice increases spend, time to market, and can result in inconsistencies. Bringing the data together in a cloud-first infrastructure will negate this challenge. Think of the data like a supply chain. Data is brought together and aligned to a common definition, but different consumption models can be leveraged based on each use case, creating flexibility and agility within the organization to access and use the same source of customer data.

Own and control the identity graph creation and hosting

An owned identity graph marketers to truly own customer profiles and easily bolster profiles with third-party data. It’s a must that an identification process pulls in existing observed identity signals from the site and increases recognition by utilizing an enhanced identity graph or database. To win in our landscape today, marketers need more control over identity graphs including how they are built, hosted, and accessed. Merkle’s Merkury identity solution puts clients in control of match confidence levels and the balance of reach and accuracy with hosting options.

Seamlessly connect to all your capabilities

In today’s experience-driven economy, brands win or lose by their ability to deliver contextual and compellingly personal experiences. Many brands have hit a wall when it comes to delivering personalization at scale and driving new kinds of value from their current customer data, unsure how to unlock and unleash data for CX innovation.

By connecting all capabilities within the marketing technology stack, businesses can leverage a cohesive technology engine. This allows marketing to activate customer profiles that update in real time as new data is collected, strengthening customer relationships. Fueled by data, this allows the entire organization to democratize and utilize that customer data to activate priority use cases more efficiently and effectively.

Helping make it happen

As mentioned earlier in this post, we’re excited to announce that we ranked as a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Customer Data Strategy and Activation Services, Q2 2022 report by leading independent research firm Forrester Research, Inc. We were recognized for our focus on connecting marketing to customer experience, e-commerce, and technology. 

The Forrester Wave™: Customer Data Strategy and Activation Services Wave, Q2 2022, used 27 criteria to evaluate eight providers. The report reveals how each measure up and helps marketers select the appropriate partner to meet their needs.

According to the report, “Merkle serves as the glue that connects departments, data, and dentsu agencies.” The report also noted “with a long legacy in direct marketing, Merkle is highly capable of database builds and management. And it receives high marks for its technology capabilities,” “Merkle has a deep analytics bench and takes an analytical approach to much of its work.” We received the highest possible scores in many criteria, including first-party PII management, data sourcing, zero-party data, regulatory compliance, marketing technology, cross-channel marketing execution, and advanced customer analytics.

Want to work with a Leader to build a world-class data and activation strategy? Reach out to our experts here.