In these times of digital marketing, traditional databases are now redundant. All of the required tools are now readily available from social networks, search engines and other universal platforms. Right? Not quite. The case for a marketing database has actually never been stronger.
Website visits are now dominated by mobile, not desktop devices. Marketing needs to reflect this and the ability to use linking techniques allows marketers to co-ordinate multi-device consumers, whether they are logged in or not. When considering the creation and implementation of a unified contact strategy in this context, there are a number of issues to consider:
What’s this got to do with the humble marketing database? Just as the Renaissance bridged the Middle Ages and the Age of Reason, so, too, the marketing database now provides a bridge between the old world of offline push marketing and our present online world. Today’s customer interactions still need to be co-ordinated across customer touchpoints, but more quickly and flexibly than before. Identification and personalisation delivers better customer experiences and higher performing marketing than a one-size-fits-all approach.
The rapid rise of programmatic media and the allied data management platform (DMP) has further fuelled this trend. A number of major UK consumer brands have invested in DMP platforms either on an in-house or outsourced basis. Many such brands have also realised that to have a DMP alone is not enough. Customer and prospect data needs to flow between it and marketing databases. Without this, the DMP becomes just another siloed platform to manage around.
All of the traditional campaign management processes and practices have to be applied with equal level of consideration. The marketing database - or single customer view - is the workhorse here, co-ordinating marketing activity, regardless of the channel or executional platform. This includes programmatic display, but many other addressable channels as well, such as email and in-app personalisation.
The answers to all of the above questions point to the need for a single view of the customer, whether that’s by enhancing an existing one or creating a new, fit-for-purpose one. Either way, a single customer view is now more than ever to be found at the heart of high-performing marketing programmes and will be for the foreseeable future for many consumer service providers.
In practice, this is not about big data. It’s about starting with the business issue and working out exactly what data is required. Over-engineering (just to be safe) is just as bad as (if not worse than) under-specifying a system. Being clear about the business requirements is an obvious step, but one where scant attention is often paid. In one example, system development had begun even though user requirements were not gathered and design documentation was not completed, risking reputational and regulatory breaches not too far down the road.
The European Renaissance of the 14th Century was only named well after the event. Maybe we will reflect back on these times and see - with hindsight - how 2015 ushered in a new rebirth of marketing.