What ties the two events together, however, was the topic of single customer view (SCV). When discussed at the Figaro event, most of the delegates rolled their eyes and shook their heads as if SCV was just a figment of our imaginations. What I have seen with our own clients and was reaffirmed at EIS however, is that lots of brands both big and small are building and using a single view of their customers now.
Conceptually, a single view of customer is pretty straight forward. It is a data store where every customer in touch with my brand is stored regardless of the touchpoint and which in an ideal world would be able to inform all my other touchpoints on the best next action in real time. The example I usually use for this is one where if I call the contact center five minutes after completing an online transaction, the call center agent will know that I have placed that order and will have all of those details to hand. This is obviously where it starts to get really complicated and this is where I think most businesses come unstuck. It is this desire for a synchronous data exchange that makes these projects more fantasy than reality.
But even if we are happy with an asynchronous data exchange to start, the next big hurdle is linking all of the channels together with a unique customer identifier (UCI). The good news here is that email marketers are in poll position on this one because the email address is a perfect UCI. There are a few things that make a good UCI and email has all of them.
First, a good UCI has a one-to-one relationship with the customer. While there are still instances of shared email addresses in both B2B and B2C marketing, it is becoming increasingly rare. Similarly, each customer can have multiple email addresses but again they will typically use one per brand. So, is email perfect here? No, but it is more than good enough for what we need which is tying together the various channels.
Second, the customer knows a good UCI. Pretty much every company you deal with assigns you an account number so when you ring into the contact center, that is the first thing they ask you. If you are like me at this point, you ask if they can find your details some other way. I do not know what my account number is and frankly I do not care. It is not my account number: it is your account number that you assigned to me. I know all of my email addresses on the other hand and I will readily give them without a second thought. You will never be able to tie my offline purchase to my email click behaviour if you rely on me to remember a seemingly arbitrary sixteen-digit number that you assigned me.
I have also just touched on the third attribute of a good UCI: that the customer is willing to give it out. I have written and spoken many times about building human relationships with your email marketing program. One of the ways we do this is by asking only for the data we need and at the right time. A customer may never be comfortable giving you their phone number or home address but based on the most recent data from the Consumer Email Tracker Report, the average consumer has 2.4 email addresses and 36% have three or more. Most to every consumer will have their “shopping” email address that they will give to you across a wide variety of channels.
Another place where these corporate projects come unstuck is by trying to boil the ocean. As you know, we here at dotmailer are big fans of thinking big but starting small and scaling quickly. Just start somewhere so you can prove the value and then invest more. It is tempting when building your SVC to prioritize your biggest offline sales channel or the social network where you have the most fans and while this is highly likely to have the biggest initial impact. It could also just as easily derail the whole project because of all of the complexities involved. It is better in my opinion to identify a touchpoint where the data is readily accessible and the data is easy to get to. Combining the data from two sources from two systems and then figuring out how to leverage this new information in your email program will be hard enough without the added complexities of data that needs a lot of manipulation or is really hard to get to.