It’s the age of multi-channel, omni-channel, and multi-device shopping. At this point in the game, this is nothing new for marketers.  Consumers are shopping across multiple channels, have access to more information, and depend on recommendations from their social peers before making a purchase. And more so than any other demographic, millennials rely on a variety of digital and social channels on their path to purchase.

The lines between offline and online shopping experiences are increasingly blurring:

  • 44% of consumers research online and buy online
  • 51% research online and visit a store to purchase
  • 17% visit a store first and then purchase online
  • 32% research online, visit a store to view a product, and then return online to make a purchase

Consumers are also taking a multi-device path to purchase. For example, they may begin on a smart phone, continue on a PC, and then continue on a tablet.

While marketers understand that multi-channel shopping is the new norm, many continue to struggle with how to implement a truly effective multi-channel marketing strategy. It’s about more than just having an on-line presence and a physical store, or sending both direct mail and email. These are all important components, but multi-channel marketing is not about just merely being present on multiple channels. Multi-channel marketing is about interacting with consumers and giving them a choice across their preferred mix of channels.

The First Step to Success – You Must Know Your Customer to Personalize Experiences Across Channels
Consumers no longer passively accept what a company is telling them. They do research, choose what they want to pay attention to, and have choices. They are seeking a personalized buying experience on the channels they most prefer.

Having a single view of your customers and prospects is critical. You must determine who your target market is and which messages will be most appealing to give them these personalized interactions.

Once a single view of the customer is established across all touch points, analytics can be applied to determine a consumer’s channel preferences, likes and dislikes, attitudes, purchase behavior, and so on. And with a better understanding of who the consumer actually is, the right messaging can be developed and deployed according to their individual preferences and across the right channels. 

Integrate Your Data to Understand Your Target Market
So how do you establish this singular customer view? As your customers interact with you across email, brick-and-mortar establishments, call centers, e-commerce sites, and other channels, each of these interactions contain important customer details which may end up in separate systems.

So for example, Mary, a valued customer, may place multiple on-line orders over the course of several months. She also responds to email promotions and heads into your store to make a purchase with her store credit card. She then calls customer service with a complaint about a wrong item shipment. Each of these sources of information about Mary must be integrated into a single data mart or data warehouse to better understand who she is and what she values.

Here is a look at an integrated 5-step approach to establish a 360-degree customer view.


  1. Data Identification
    An important first step is to identify all sources of data, fields of interest, format standards and definitions. Any number of data sources may be used to create a marketing database, such as call center logs, customer loyalty programs, email transaction, and billing systems.
  2. Data Cleansing
    No data is perfect. Different and sometimes conflicting pieces of information can be found across multiple sources for the same contact or company.  One-time feeds such as trade show data or prospect list purchases quickly age, and incoming data sources may lack important data elements. The goal is to rely on the data being as accurate as possible. For example, ZIP codes can be corrected if city and state are correct. Centuries can be inferred for dates, and area codes can be added where missing.
  3. Data Standardization
    Each data type must have the same kind of content and format. Consistent formats need to be identified for data elements such as equipment numbers, phone, dates, etc. A data quality solution should contain built-in transformation routines that assist in this significant process according to your company’s requirements.
  4. Cross Referencing
    Duplicate data is the top data quality problem for 30% of organizations. Cross referencing, or matching, is the checking of two or more units of data for common characteristics.  The matching process removes data duplications and further improves data accuracy. For example, names and addresses are often the identifying data for a data source, particularly customer data. However, this data can become dirty and deteriorate over time, or the data may have originally been incorrectly entered. Performing matching to identify and correct these errors discovers intelligent links among customer records to merge duplicate records.
  5. Survivorship
    By following this 5-step approach, companies can achieve a Single Source of Truth through consolidation of all cross referenced data and elimination of redundant information. Business rules should be applied to reconcile conflicting characteristics and maintain constant identifiers over time.

Successful multi-channel marketing involves a variety of processes and technologies which must evolve over time. Campaign management, digital marketing, analytics, and marketing automation all play a role. However, before diving into any of these strategies, the first crucial must not be overlooked. Managing your data to establish a holistic customer view is the foundation of multi-channel marketing.

Learn More about Managing Your Data.
Download our Data Management Solutions Guide.

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