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Once You Have All of That Data, Do You Know What to Do With It?

I came across a quote in a book I was reading the other day, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, that struck me as the perfect embodiment of what drives me to get up every morning and come to work at Merkle:

Recently, Merkle released its 2016 Marketing Imperatives; it's a crucial read for all modern marketers. Merkle’s Marketing Imperatives is an annual industry publication that is heavily relied upon in data-driven marketing. It contains forward-leaning thought leadership, with the latest edition focusing on people-based marketing methodologies. Truthfully, the execution of any, let alone all three, of the imperatives for marketing success: enablement, activation, and transformation, is extremely difficult to achieve. That difficulty is precisely what we are addressing for our customers and where innovation at Merkle is headed.

Enablement, for example, is about ensuring data and insight is available to help manage customer interaction and experiences. Simple, right? Even the creation of a centralized view of the customer is an incredibly complex exercise, during which a multitude of questions arise:

What data defines a customer and what are the sources of that data? What criteria do I use to differentiate one customer from another customer? This was simple in the days when name and address were king. It is not so simple when dealing with device IDs and visitor IDs. What data is needed to build a complete view of the customer and their interactions and where is it coming from? It is a daunting task to sift through the endless data elements available and narrow those to an actionable sub-set. Once that is completed, you will need to determine how that view integrates with all of the different platforms for customer interaction from physical (like point of sale), to digital (like a data management platform (DMP), or your own web properties) in order to impact all aspects of the customer journey.

It is challenging, complex, and yes, sometimes demanding to embark on a client journey that starts with “I wonder how many distinct customers we really have?”, and goes to a place where we are fine-tuning audience criteria for syndication to platform giants like Google and Facebook. Developing wisdom and making pertinent decisions that help you acquire and manage customers is the entire purpose of collecting marketing data. Tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that, the journey will continue, and there will be more data and more information to synthesize to help our clients make informed decisions that drive value to their customers. And I am looking forward to it.