To say that today’s marketers are busy is an understatement. They have more responsibility and are using more channels to market their products and services. These channels are becoming increasingly more measurable and are producing more layers and magnitude of data than ever.
But accessing, integrating, and processing this data is a huge challenge. In fact, a recent study conducted by The CMO Club and Visual IQ on omnichannel marketing confirmed that while harnessing big data is one of the biggest priorities for marketers over the next 12 months, their efforts are often thwarted by unavailable, incomplete, or siloed marketing performance data, as well as by a lack of tools or technology.
Here are three major obstacles that today’s CMOs face when it comes to using data correctly, as well as ways to overcome these challenges to successfully implement an omnichannel strategy.
Obstacle 1: Data Is Spread Across Different Silos
The first step to optimizing marketing efforts across channels is to measure current performance across channels. However, many organizations have not put a mechanism in place to capture critical marketing performance data. And those that have the data have it in disparate silos, making it nearly impossible to effectively analyze results. In fact, 85 percent of the CMOs surveyed indicated that the siloed nature of their customer interaction data is their biggest obstacle to achieving omnichannel success.
So how can CMOs overcome this?
The most effective marketing organizations use sophisticated data mining techniques to incorporate all of their marketing data (from ad servers, email platforms, CRM systems, etc.) into a single data repository to reveal new insights, remove duplicate conversions among all their channels, and uncover hidden optimization opportunities.
To create a foundation for data mining, marketers should develop a plan that details the level and type of data required, the frequency and method of collection, the format the data should be presented in, and the resources required for this data collection.
Obstacle 2: Data Isn’t Measured Across Channels
Brands have more channel options for marketing than ever before. Yet many don’t feel they have the technology or tools in place to measure performance across channels, tactics, or audience segments.
Eighty-two percent of respondents surveyed in The CMO Club study feel an inability to measure cross-channel performance is standing in the way of their omnichannel marketing success. And while technologies such as cookies and pixel tags make most online marketing trackable, the lack of user-level data from offline channels like broadcast, print, and out-of-home has long made it difficult for marketers to understand their overall ecosystems.
To deliver a truly seamless omnichannel experience, marketers should, to the extent possible, track each customer and prospect via a unique ID in their CRM systems or enterprise data warehouses. By tracking unique IDs, marketers can create a chronologically ordered list of all the marketing touch points (online and offline) experienced by an individual user.
For marketers, this will mean having complete insight into a consumer’s interaction with a brand–from the first touch to the final purchase–across all channels, as well as the ability to make smarter, more informed decisions on where to invest to produce the best return.
Obstacle 3: Data Isn’t Normalized
We’ve established that most CMOs can’t collect data or can only do so in a siloed, channel-by-channel manner. But even when marketers have overcome these obstacles, they still aren’t necessarily measuring performance in an apples-to-apples way.
This is because the data they have exists in different formats and is measured using different key performance indicators (KPIs). In fact, only 10 percent of those surveyed by Visual IQ and the CMO Club use shared KPIs that are common across channels.
To stop taking a silo-based approach, marketers need to establish and then enforce common data attributes and metrics that are the most critical to measuring marketing performance across all channels. Then they can plan to make the necessary enhancements to support a cohesive measurement strategy. By ensuring that all channels are producing outputs in a common format, marketers are given a truly objective look into what’s working and what’s not, so they can adjust their strategies accordingly.
While today’s marketers are facing more daunting challenges than ever, they can overcome the various demands by deploying a few key tactics. In acknowledging disparate data and a lack of adequate tools as leading obstacles standing in the way of executing omnichannel strategies, the CMO community needs to leverage processes and tools that help them collect, normalize, format, and integrate data from their various channels. In doing so, marketers will get a true 360-degree view of their prospects and customers, which is the cornerstone of omnichannel marketing.
Bill Muller is the chief marketing officer of Visual IQ. He oversees the marketing of the IQ Intelligence Suite of best-of-breed cross channel marketing attribution software products, including the company’s lead generation, branding, PR, analyst relations, thought leadership and sales support activities.