In today’s digital economy, marketing and ecommerce professionals at both bricks-and-clicks and ecommerce-only retailers face extreme pressure as they go head to head with giants like Amazon and Walmart who have money and scale on their side.
Ecommerce platforms like Shopify help retailers and direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands sell their goods online. But today’s ecommerce pros need an extra edge to develop meaningful one-to-one relationships with customers.
It’s the only way they can truly compete with the ecommerce giants.
Ecommerce teams that own the relationship with customers have an enormous opportunity to provide a better customer experience, understand their behaviors, implement product feedback, tailor offers and product recommendations, and more.
But to create unique experiences and level the playing field between you and Amazon, you need to unify individual-level data from across channels and systems into a single customer view for ecommerce marketing activation.
Owning the customer relationship requires a single customer view
The first step to understanding customers is to unify first-party data into a single customer view. Ecommerce retailers are looking to capitalize on first-party data because it enables them to create bespoke experiences for customers.
In fact, 36% of executives said increasing the quantity and quality of first-party data in their databases was crucial for their brands.
This elusive single customer view (also commonly referred to as the 360-degree view) has become a buzzword that can sometimes seem unattainable or meaningless.
But in reality, you don’t have to collect every data point you have on a customer, as long as what you do collect is aligned to a defined use case or set of use cases.
When thinking about how to build unified customer profiles to augment your ecommerce strategy, there are two critical things to consider:
- 1) Types of data to collect and unify: If you’re like most ecommerce businesses, you likely have a ton of information about your customers, even if it’s scattered across many different systems. You might track transactions, shopping behaviors like product pages visited, email engagement data, loyalty program status, and other identifying information like email address or customer ID.
- 2) Where that data comes from: For every piece of data you want to unify into a customer profile, it’s important to understand where it lives today. Depending on the type of data, it may come from your CRM system, email marketing platform, campaign management tool, loyalty system, or an ecommerce platform like Shopify or Magento.
Getting the right customer data across systems and channels into one place enables you to create dynamic, multi-dimensional segments instantly and provide highly relevant one-to-one experiences in a way that was not previously possible.
Benefits of a single customer view for ecommerce professionals
Before we get into the details about how to build a single customer view for ecommerce marketing, let’s review why it offers immense value.
A single customer view can take your existing ecommerce marketing tactics to the next level — whether it’s increasing shopper engagement or converting browsers into buyers and buyers into repeat purchasers.
For starters, it helps marketers create a holistic picture of their customers by organizing all their first-party customer data in one place.
Ecommerce marketing teams can then use this centralized data to create dynamic, multi-dimensional segments that account for shopping behaviors, past purchase history, loyalty status, and similar data points to personalize offers and product recommendations.
With unified customer profiles, ecommerce marketing teams can use their first-party data to increase sales, reduce costs, more easily comply with global privacy regulations, and make use of advanced analytics without the need for a massive data science team.
Ultimately, your goal is to boost sales through relevant, targeted messaging with your prospective and past customers. But there are many means to that end:
- Increase purchases with one-to-one product recommendations. With a unified profile of the customer, an ecommerce marketer can increase upsell and cross-sell with one-to-one recommendations based on the individual customer’s interests, past purchase history, and recent browsing behavior. Rather than serving up offers and recommendations based on point-in-time events, such as an individual product page visit, a unified customer view enables you to deliver recommendations based on a combination of many attributes.
- Recover abandon carts at a higher rate. If a potential customer abandons her cart, ecommerce marketers can automatically deliver an email to that individual or use retargeting to recover abandoned shopping carts at a higher rate. With a connection through Facebook, for example, you can target a group of cart-abandoners instantaneously with a special offer or specific content. However, rather than sending the same offers to all abandoners, a unified customer view would enable you to use multiple data points to suppress discounted offers to abandoners that are showing a higher propensity to come back and buy at full price.
- Acquire new loyalty program members. Additionally, ecommerce businesses might increase sales by bolstering their loyalty programs. To obtain new members, brands can personalize incentives based on individual — only using certain products or content relevant to the individual. For instance, if a customer has been eyeing a certain product for some time but hasn’t purchased, you could offer the product as a “free gift” for joining a loyalty program instead of sign-on bonus points — especially if they have a high CLV score.
For ecommerce marketing teams that have traditionally taken a “spray-and-pray” approach, new marketing technology can help eliminate inefficiency and wasted spend.
- Suppress ads from unlikely buyers. Retail marketers can suppress ads to customers with a recent purchase or customers with a low propensity to buy. After all, there’s no reason to spend money targeting people with a picture of boots they’ve previously purchased or have no intention of purchasing.
- Limit discounting. Similarly, customers who are likely to buy at full price don’t need a discount offer. With a single view of the customer and the right technology, you can suppress discounts and incentives to customers with a high propensity to buy. In other words, you can increase revenue by reducing costs with targeted marketing activities and limiting discounts to specific segments and individuals.
- Increase operational efficiency. What’s more, access to unified customer profiles results in greater operational efficiency. It reduces hand-off times for specific tasks like segmentation-list building, eliminates tasks like checking segments overlap and accuracy across systems, and reduces marketing’s reliance on other teams. For instance, by offering real-time cross-channel segmentation that was not possible before, ecommerce marketers can build a segment based on all available data about a customer and use the same segment across all your systems in a few minutes. This prevents you from building static lists in each disparate system and reduces the reliance on IT or analytics teams to build segments (which could take weeks or months).
Adhere to privacy regulations
New-ish privacy legislations like the CCPA follow closely in GDPR’s footsteps. To comply with regulations like these, ecommerce marketing pros must provide customers with opt-out options for data collection and marketing communications.
- Store and federate consent status. With an end-to-end consent management solution that is connected to your unified customers profiles, you have a centralized place to store an individual’s consent preferences that can then be shared across all your marketing systems.
- Provide customers data access with ease. Additionally, customers also have a right to request access their data. Without a centralized place for customer data at an individual level, how long might it take you (and your team) to gather all the data you have on an individual across your systems? Persistent, unified, and accessible customer profiles also allow you to easily send customers requested data.
Apply advanced analytics
Last but not least, unified data and machine learning capabilities can provide advanced ecommerce analytics to better understand your customers and to inform decision-making regarding your ecommerce marketing strategy.
By connecting machine learning to first-party data, ecommerce marketers can build predictive models based on trusted data and feed the output of those models back into customer profiles for real-time, multi-dimensional segmentation.
For example, with a few clicks, you could create a segment of customers with high CLV and low recency to target with a premium offer. All of a sudden, marketers aren’t relying on data science teams to return propensity to buy, customer lifetime value, or RFM scores.
CDPs provide the necessary 360-degree view of your prospects and customers
With the right technology in place, ecommerce marketing teams have the opportunity to liberate their first-party data and take advantage of what a single customer view offers.
By owning the relationship with your customer and using your wealth of first-party data to inform how, where, and when you interact, you can leapfrog your competition and deliver a far superior customer experience.
With BlueConic, you can be confident your profiles are accurate, complete, and recognize individual marketing consent status and preferences across channels and systems.
Moreover, those unified customer profiles are readily available for real-time segmentation, predictive modeling, and customer lifecycle marketing orchestration.
Unified customer profiles can provide ecommerce retailers with the confidence and utility they need to level the playing field with retail giants.
Leverage your most valuable asset — first-party data — along with a pure-play CDP like BlueConic to put customers at the center of your ecommerce marketing strategy and can build bespoke experiences that exceed their expectations and generate greater revenue.
Find out how VF Corp. leverages the single customer view offered in our customer data platform to transform its customer engagement strategy.