grasshopper hiding behind a leaf
Marketers are still missing opportunities with critical, and sometimes obvious, data sources, leaving gaping holes in the customer journey PHOTO: realworkhard

Understanding and engaging with today’s customers requires the best possible data. 

That means relying less on black box third-party data and harnessing rich first-party data from interactions with customers. First-party data offers a competitive advantage over third-party data available to everyone, and is much more powerful and relevant to your organization. 

The problem is, marketers are still missing opportunities with critical, and sometimes obvious, data sources, leaving gaping holes in the customer journey. The data that’s most critical and specific to your business is often hidden in plain sight. Here’s where and how to find it:

Get Your Tags in Order

Tags, or snippets of code that keep track of consumer interactions on your website, should be the first thing any data-driven marketer takes care of. Tags are essential to understanding your customers, and harnessing them is easy using one of the simple, free tag managers available. 

Nonetheless, a survey of the top 500 online retailers found as many as 42 percent of marketers weren’t employing tag managers at all. That’s a huge missed opportunity.

A tag manager gives marketers control over customer data collection on their desktop and mobile websites — as well as partner websites. Insights from tag managers can help marketers improve the user experience on their websites.

Let the Left Hand Know What the Right Is Doing

While marketers invest in both customer relationship management (CRM) data and analytics from websites (mobile and desktops), the two are completely ineffectual without each other — two halves of the customer journey frequently siloed from one another. 

By integrating the two sources, CRM data could ultimately tell you how valuable each customer is, while web and mobile analytics could tell you where they’re coming from and why. 

Without CRM and website analytics data joined at the hip, marketers can’t be sure of the value of each conversion or optimize according to those insights. This is important for building long-term consumer relationships, where customer value is realized over time — especially essential for companies with service-based commerce, subscription models and more.

Get Your Data Raw

Marketers are plenty familiar with aggregated data available through the aforementioned web and mobile analytics tools, but that aggregation actually limits the insights you can squeeze from your data. Having access to raw, un-aggregated data is far more powerful because you choose the analytics, measurement and insights you gather.

Analytics tools offer pre-set metrics to measure customer behaviors and marketing performance. While having that guidance is helpful for entry-level marketing, most marketers eventually want to ask their own questions — no one knows what needs to be measured better than marketers themselves, because every brand has different needs. 

To ask the right questions, marketers need self-service analytics and customizable insights from raw, event-by-event clickstream and behavior data coming from every customer touchpoint.

Build a Win-Win Relationship with IT

Sometimes your best data is housed and isolated in engineering and IT teams, and you miss a huge opportunity to understand your customers. This happens a lot. 

For instance, payment data provides obvious marketing value: purchase is the ultimate conversion, and measuring it is critical to completing the customer picture and determining each customer’s value. 

Another key metric is application and website performance data, often owned by engineering. It plays an especially critical role in overall customer experience and can give a lot of insight into customer churn, abandoned shopping carts, and more — not to mention help personalize the customer experience. 

As more brands become digitized, marketers need to find a low-friction way to tap into internal databases in other departments. What used to be one department’s purview needs to be shared, because that data is an essential customer insight. 

Marketing and IT must work together to achieve the common goal: providing better customer experience through technology.

Marketers have to use all data available and specific to their organization in a way that’s organized, integrated and actionable. That’s the only way to get a complete picture of your audiences and understand why your customers are your customers. 

The more you can understand about their profiles, their behavior and their motives, the more effective your marketing will be.