Accurately segmenting and targeting customers is critical to developing a successful marketing campaign. As a marketer, however, you know that task is easier said than done. As marketing channels have expanded, the number of touchpoints at which you collect customer data has grown, causing fragmented customer views. Marketers may struggle with how to compile and use their data to reach the largest and best qualified consumer audiences.
One emerging solution to this problem is cross-media linkage—the process of identifying and linking together partial customer data to reconcile online and offline databases. This practice especially works well when using anonymous data, as opposed to practices relating to reverse appending lists with data from identifiable consumers.
Cross-media linkage is an effective tool that can be used to make sense of the bits and pieces of information consumers provide every day at points of sale offline, through online registrations and while surfing the Web. This data is collected at each touchpoint by marketers who, in turn, are challenged to recognize who the consumer is and match the new information with current information in their databases. Does the same consumer exist multiple times in customer and prospect databases? Do different consumers live in the same household? Without the ability to link pieces of data together, marketers cannot answer these questions and are limited in the ways they can both remarket to and best communicate with those consumers.
For example, organizations might have limited marketing options due to incomplete online or offline information, such as customer name, address and telephone number, leaving only the channels with the lowest return on investment—direct mail or telephone marketing—open to reach them. By using cross media linkage to enrich the data view, organizations can open additional marketing channels—such as commercial email, Internet display advertising and mobile—to market to customers based on each customer's channel preference.
Once you have a complete offline and online view of the consumers in your database, that information can be matched with data in a consumer lifestyle segmentation system to construct your consumer targeting and acquisition strategies. Consumer lifestyle segmentation systems are comprised of thousands of data points that are integrated to provide descriptive views of buying behaviors, media preferences, attitudes and opinions that help match the needs and dimensions of target consumers on a geographic level.
When launching a program that involves gathering and linking consumer information, particularly online, it is critical to partner with an organization that applies the same industry self-regulatory guidelines around data privacy and a consumer's notice and choice that have been followed for decades in offline marketing. The Direct Marketing Association works closely with many data gathering companies to ensure that the proper internal systems for assessment are in place to ensure consumer privacy.
While marketing across both online and offline channels has rapidly evolved, understanding cross media linkage and utilizing offline data acquisition, cleansing, storage and best practices for data security can prove valuable for even the most digitally attuned businesses.
Kevin Akerman is a senior director, Global Product Development for Experian Marketing Services, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based provider of marketing services and data solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.