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Why Connection Data is Crucial for Cross-Channel Success

Posted by Phil Davis

June 15, 2017

“ConnectionThe concept of cross-channel marketing has been around only since 2005 (in fact, Google Trends shows legitimately zero search volume for the term before then.)

But in the past decade or so, marketers have adopted the approach with fervor.

Despite this enthusiasm, however, many marketers still struggle to give consumers the kind of cross-channel customer experiences (CX) that drive purchases and inspire brand loyalty. The solution? Connection data.

Here’s what you need to know about connection data and why it’s the passport to effective cross-channel marketing.

Multichannel v. Cross-Channel Marketing

A quick history lesson: Before there was cross-channel marketing, there was multichannel marketing. The objective of multichannel marketing was simply to put a brand and its products in front of customers via more than one channel. The consistency of the CX was an afterthought.

But when the number of consumers with smartphones began skyrocketing in 2010-2011, multichannel marketing no longer was sufficient. Consumers with smartphones understood that having nearly instant access to anything they wanted meant giving brands access to more of their information. But in turn, they expected these brands to use this information to provide them with consistent, personalized experiences—no matter the channel.

The Challenge of Making Connections

The good news for marketers was this resulted in an explosion of customer data. But now they had a new problem: The volume of data was increasing exponentially, but the available tools to organize, analyze and collect this data were not keeping up.

In response, the number of software solutions like customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation platforms began to grow. Unfortunately, this spawned yet another new problem: data silos. Brands had insight into the demographic information, browsing behavior and search intent of their audience, but no way of tying each of these data points back to a single individual.

Marketers just couldn’t catch a break.

Connection Data to the Rescue

Connecting customer data is still a problem for the vast majority of marketers. In fact, according to research by Econsultancy, only 10 percent of marketers have managed to successfully tie customer data across channels, solutions and databases—even though 89 percent of businesses say CX is the area of most competition.

So what makes the marketers in that 10 percent special? Well, many have identified the power of one immensely important piece of data: hashed email. This little thing is the key ingredient in the marketing recipe that produces the death of silos and, as a result, effective cross-channel marketing.

We have a handful of blog posts about hashed email (feel free to check out a few them here, here and here), but a quick definition from a previous post is this:

A hashed email encrypts an email address into a unique hexadecimal string that doesn’t change, no matter where that address is entered. Because the hashed email is associated with only one specific user for the life of the address, marketers have extensive insight into how and where this particular individual spends their time online. Plus, unlike cookies, hashed email addresses can track behavior across multiple devices.

Consumers use their emails to create accounts on websites, download apps, sign up for customer loyalty programs in stores. And via solutions like TowerData’s Email Append, emails can be tied to a consumer’s postal address.

Hashed emails are what enable marketers to make that highly coveted data connection—to identify a customer’s identity across channels, both online and offline. And that data connection is what makes the consistent, personalized cross-channel CX possible.

Marketing Attribution: A Marketer’s Crystal Ball

As an added bonus, connection data helps improve attribution models. Attribution is the process of identifying the individual interactions a consumer has with the brand throughout the customer journey and then assigning credit to these interactions. It allows marketers to gain full visibility into how much each touchpoint influenced the shopper’s decision. To understand the true performance of each channel and determine where time and resources should be invested, marketers must leverage attribution models.

The traditional method for attribution assigns full credit to the consumer’s last interaction with the brand before the sale. But with a connection data-charged attribution model, marketers have better visibility into which combination of channels were used prior to the first purchase. Following a consumer’s first interaction with the brand, marketers can track the behavior of the consumer and use the data they gather to see which types of campaigns are most effective at each stage of the customer journey.

Ready to join the ranks of that elite 10 percent of marketers? Embrace the power of connection data and start building cross-channel campaigns that blow your competition out of the water.

Take the first step to building a unified database. Request your free Email Append Match Test and grow your email list by 25 percent.

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Topics: Real-Time Data, Consumer Data, Data Management

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