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9 Steps to Closing the Gaps in Your Data Strategy and Optimizing Customer Journeys

If you are personalizing your campaigns and customer journeys (like your arch-rivals and corporate competitors do), you are using data to do so. In fact, it’s not possible to personalize a customer journey without having the right data fields filled in and stored away securely in your databases. Alas, filling in the blanks is not the cake-walk it was a decade ago, not with 50-bajillion tools cobbled together to form your martech ecosystem. No, collecting, cleaning, completing, analyzing and leveraging the data that is captured and shared across your many platforms and systems requires a full-blown data strategy that is as smooth and bump-free as the airbrushed after pictures in an acne commercial.  

Show Me the MONEY

If you, or your superiors, find the contemplation of your data strategy a subject that is wholly unsexy, fasten your seatbelts, because these stats show the right data strategy can make it rain like a hurricane. According to McKinsey, companies that manage and wield their data well are:

  • 23 times more likely to acquire customers
  • 6 times more likely to retain customers
  • 19 times more likely to be profitable

In today’s blog, we’ll take a look at the actions you can take to whip your data strategy into shape and start seeing McKinsey-like results—as in more customers, who stay longer, and spend more, and more and more.

Data and the Customer Journey, 2G4E (ToGether ForEver)

When we talk about the customer journey, we are essentially chronicling the entire experience a person has with your brand, from the moment they see an ad and discover your product or service, to their interactions with sales and customer service, to the tipping point where they say YES and sign a contract. If maximizing your Customer Lifetime Values (CLVs) is important, and it should be, then their experience also includes all ongoing post-honeymoon communications.

Each of the aforementioned mileposts we just described represents a touchpoint along the customer’s way, or journey, to becoming your hopelessly devoted regular. Marketing’s domain over the various touchpoints in their journey is typically limited to advertisements, websites, social media, publicity, emails, nurture campaigns, events, etc. However, analyzing and optimizing these touchpoints, will help your customers experience united, engaging and friction-free interactions that ultimately drive them to remain loyal and, in the best scenarios, advocate for your brand. And so, without further ado, let’s talk about the 9 steps you can take to implement a gap-free data strategy.

Step 1:  Collect Comprehensive Data

One of the first steps in optimizing your customer journey is to ensure you have comprehensive data on customer behaviors and preferences. Sometimes sales will have info you need and customer service will need info you have in order to complete the picture of a customer’s profile. In addition to using an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) SaaS solution to help you consolidate and integrate data from all of your martech sources (CRM, marketing automation system, e-commerce platform, etc.), you should also check out what data other departments have and work on creating a single source of truth via a centralized database. This way, you can obtain a holistic view of your customers and their interactions with your brand.

Pro Tip: If you find you are still missing information you need or want, consider adding second-party data from corporate partnerships or purchasing third-party data from a company that specializes in the kind of data you need.

Step 2:  Break Down Data Silos

Data silos are a common problem in organizations, where different departments or systems store data separately and don’t share it with others. This can lead to incomplete or inaccurate customer profiles and hinder your ability to create personalized experiences. The best way to find and remove data silos is to chart all the ways data is entering the tools, platforms and systems in your marketing technology stack, and note any data siloes you stumble across. Then, work with other departments who deal in customer data to repeat this exercise. Reiterate to them the importance of presenting a unified brand to customers at all stages of their lifecycle, and the impossibility of presenting said unified brand without everyone company-wide endorsing a higher data standard and an uncompromising commitment to quality data.

Pro Tip: Use your iPaaS solution to break down data silos by integrating your data sources and ensuring all departments have access to the same customer information.

Step 3: Analyze and Interpret Data

Once you have a comprehensive dataset, you need to analyze and interpret it to identify patterns and trends that can help you improve customer journeys. This might involve using advanced analytics, machine learning, or artificial intelligence (AI) tools to uncover insights into customer behavior, preferences, and pain points. You can also use this information to create customer segments and target your marketing efforts more effectively.

Pro Tip: Use automation to ensure your data is always clean, complete, standardized and enriched.

Step 4: Act on Insights

It’s not enough to collect and analyze data; you also need to act on the insights you gain to create a better customer experience. This might involve making changes to your website design, creating more personalized marketing campaigns, or improving your customer support processes. Make sure you monitor the impact of these changes and continuously improve your strategy to ensure you’re optimizing your customers’ journeys.

Pro Tip: Engage in A/B testing to ensure you are also optimizing marketing’s performance. A/B testing allows you to see which elements of personalization are working best in your campaigns. To ensure you derive the most benefits from your A/B testing, make sure you only change one element at a time.

Step 5: Ensure Data Privacy and Security

With the increasing importance of data in the customer journey, it’s essential to prioritize data privacy and security. Your customers trust you with their personal information, and it’s your responsibility to protect it. Ensure that your data collection and storage processes are compliant with data protection regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, and use encryption and other security measures to safeguard customer data.

Pro Tip: Manage data access via the centralized control of a marketing data dashboard, and use it to enforce a hierarchy of who in your company has access to what data. Work with IT to implement safeguards that shutdown databases in the event of a breach.

Step 6: Leverage Real-Time Data

In today’s fast-paced world, leveraging real-time data is essential for creating a responsive and engaging customer experience. Real-time data allows you to react to customer behavior and preferences as they happen, ensuring that your marketing efforts and customer interactions are both relevant and timely. Pro Tip: iPaaS solutions help you access and process real-time data, which enables you to adapt your strategy on-the-fly and respond to customer needs with lightning speed.

Step 7: Monitor and Measure Success
A successful data-driven strategy relies on continuous monitoring and measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs) related to your customer journey. This will enable you to identify areas for improvement and measure the impact of your efforts. Establish a set of KPIs that are relevant to your business goals, and use data analytics tools to track your success in reaching them.

Pro Tip: To figure out which KPIs you should be monitoring, check out Part Two of our blog: Developing a Winning Marketing Analytics Strategy, which includes a Quick Reference Table of the Top 10 Marketing Ops KPIs.

Step 8: Encourage a Data-Driven Culture
To truly optimize your customer journey, it’s essential to create a data-driven culture within your organization. This involves promoting the value of data in decision-making and fostering a mindset of continuous learning and improvement. Train your team members on how to effectively use data analytics tools and encourage them to share insights and collaborate across departments. By empowering your team with the right skills and mindset, you can ensure that data-driven decision-making becomes an integral part of your company culture.

Pro Tip: Consider paying for your employees to become certified in various marketing data analysis subjects, and allow them to take online courses at work.

Step 9: Take Your Time, Do It Right.

Optimizing your customer journey is an ongoing process. Filling in the gaps of your data strategy is crucial to your ability to optimize the customer journey and drive long-term customer loyalty and revenue. As you pursue a more engaging journey, take it easy on yourself and use an iPaaS solution to help you collect comprehensive data, break down silos, analyze and act on insights in real-time, and monitor and measure success. Embracing a data-driven approach to your customer journey will not only help you stand out from the competition, but drive revenue growth for years to come.