Data can inspire and inform, but first you have to know how to manage it.
Own your own data
The first step is figuring out what customer data you already have. If you don’t have first-party data, you need to develop some, pronto. Relying on third parties for your analytics could land you in a precarious position down the road, says Daniel Murphy, an svp for creative agency Deutsch.
“Now is the time to take stock of what you have and own,” says Murphy. “It’s really important that you’re not relying on someone else who could turn off that data feed or start charging you for it. The car won’t run without the fuel, and since data is clearly what the fuel is, you need to make sure you have access to it.”
Build your data infrastructure
The amount of data available to brands from social media, third-party research firms and their own customers is immense. But if they don’t have the tools and expertise to make sense of it, they might as well not have any data at all.
“You’d be surprised how little attention is spent on what we would all consider to be the absolute basics, like having a clear organizational structure built to handle, strategize and create around the data,” says Accenture Interactive’s Peter Kang. “That’s why you see all these organizations generating new C-level roles, like chief customer experience officer.”
Organizations need to figure out how they’re going to address this data and make it actionable, he adds.
“You need to deal with the basics and organize yourselves internally,” he says. “This is how brands are being built, born and destroyed in the world today.”
With GDPR now a reality in Europe, brands need to be especially clear about the data they’re collecting and what they hope to use it for. But the good news is that more transparency will lead to more trust and greater willingness on the part of consumers to share their data, says Rafe Blandford, technology strategy director for Digitas in London.
“We’re expecting brands to be more transparent in the way they collect and use data, but that’s actually a good way to build a good customer connection,” he says. “People will trust the brands that are transparent and it will encourage them to do that. But they need to be smart and collect data that’s actionable. That’s what will unlock the opportunity to do more personalization and ultimately build revenue.”
The real point of collecting all this data is to uncover things you didn’t already know. You need to approach it with an open mind and be willing to embrace new insights, says Zenith president Brent Poer.
“There are always things you may not already know, or audience segments that are underserved,” he says. “A lot of this is about turning over rocks and looking for little moments of surprise. That’s always an ‘aha’ moment. That’s where you find the magic.”