A bevy of disparate marketing applications can leave many marketers feeling isolated. Columnist Erik Bratt discusses how to get vendors to work together and why it will result in a better customer experience.
Do your marketing vendors play well with each other? If they were on a playground together, would they share toys for the betterment of all, or would they keep things to themselves, trying to create a better, but ultimately isolated, experience?
In today’s marketing environment, your mission-critical third-party applications need to work together for the greater good — i.e., more relevant customer experiences — or risk being left out in the cold.
As most readers know, marketers have been operating in silos for years. The biggest culprit: disparate marketing applications and systems, which operate off their own proprietary data sources and definitions. One hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, resulting in bad, disconnected experiences.
If I browse or do research for a couch online but buy it in-store, I should ideally be seeing display ads for a new coffee table, but instead I’m more likely to get ads for … the couch I just bought. The problem in this example is that the marketing channels work based only on data available to them.
If the last five years have been spent building marketing applications (There are now an estimated 1,876 marketing technologies, according to ChiefMartec.com’s Scott Brinker), the next five years will be spent harmonizing many of these applications, so marketers can orchestrate better customer experiences across any touch point.
Here are four steps for getting your vendors to play nice together.
Implement A Data Layer
Customer data is often considered complex and “big” because it’s fragmented and difficult to bring together from various applications and systems.
The best way to simplify data is to start with a unifying “data layer,” which outlines all the digital data that you want to manage as part of your digital marketing initiatives.
The data layer helps standardize the data between your various applications, so they are all working off the same definitions. This is the foundation for getting your vendors rowing in the same direction.
Unified View Of The Customer
We hear a lot about the importance of the single customer view (SCV) — and it’s true. The SCV is extremely important to achieving next-generation interactions.
The secret, however, is to have a single hub that can feed this profile data to all of your systems. Many vendors talk about a customer profile, but it’s only within the context of their narrow purview.
The single view must be universal in nature, spanning unique activity across all of your channels and devices. It must also be available for distribution on demand, to wherever you need it.
Once you have your customer data defined, segmented and enriched to your satisfaction, you need to be able to get it places, and fast.
This can occur in one of two ways:
- Via “tags,” data-collecting code snippets used by most digital marketing vendors, or
- Via data connectors, or APIs, which can shuttle data to, from and between your vendors and systems.
These connectors are critical in exchanging data with key partners or for initiating action. You need to be able to connect your customer data hub with all the applications within your marketing technology stack.
Finally, you need the “brains” — a rules engine to trigger actions, based on both historical and up-to-the-second activity. These rules govern everything from when to fire a tag to the creation and enrichment of profiles to the distribution of those profiles.
For example, you may set a rule that a loyal user becomes a VIP customer when he or she has spent $1,000 or more in your digital channels within the last three months. You may then set a rule to trigger an email to the same VIP customers if they have not been back to the site within 30 days.
The benefit of integrating your vendors is huge, leading to more profitable, timely and relevant customer interactions. Instead of the dysfunctional scenario described above, where you get ads for something you’ve just bought, you’ll get something more tailored to your specific needs and preferences.
Here’s an example of how things might work with connected martech: After buying several pairs of pants online, you might get an email with discounts for shirts and shoes. You might also see retargeted display ads with those same related products.
The next time you’re on the website and decide to engage in a live chat, the customer service representative will be able to see your purchase history and will be more helpful. If it’s clear you’re not interested, the vendor can decide to initiate a “cool-down” period, which takes that user out of your campaigns for a specific time.
Anything is possible when your vendors are operating with the same information. Like sharing toys at the playground, it makes for a better experience for everyone.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)