Now that the dust has settled from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, we’ve been left asking ourselves: Which clever and intelligent solution will be the biggest winner in 2016? Time, as always, will be the only true acid test. But, what is clear is that nearly every invention, innovation or product these days, creates valuable marketing data that can help connect brands to their customers.
Whether you’re a fan of connecting your fridge to the Amazon online hypermarket, or you are looking for software that lets you connect to your home appliances and smart furnishings at the touch of a button, technology is capturing and creating increasing amounts of data. But that data is also getting smarter, letting us achieve outcomes that 10 years ago would only be possible in a galaxy far, far away.
If 2015 was the year Big Data grew up and got smart, then 2016 will be the year that data gets connected. While in practice this will look different to every brand, as an industry we will see several concurrent themes that will be crucial to driving brand’s business strategies forward that will help them gain valuable market share.
As online complexity continues its unabated growth, marketers are searching for cost-effective ways to reach customers and prospects in channels like social media and mobile. Paradoxically, as techniques like segment targeting and content personalisation become increasingly important, they are harder to achieve in a multi-channel world where direct attribution can be difficult. Enter data onboarding.
Expect to see this stepping out from the shadows to become an accepted and mainstream talking point. For those unaware of the concept of data onboarding, it is the art of connecting your online and offline data to deliver better customer experiences across all channels. Yes we’ve heard of technologies that claim to offer an unrivalled insight into their customers’ wants and preferences, but this technology is now beginning to fulfil its early promise.
Once you’ve got the ability to connect your data, it needs to be used to improve your marketing. Acxiom recently worked with Heathrow to improve their customer targeting through combining its customer mapping and flight data with its loyalty scheme in a single app, which launched late last year. This data can then be used to send individuals relevant and timely messages to let them know about certain promotions or changes that they need to be aware of. With an aim of making ‘every journey better’, Heathrow has become one of the best examples of using app-based platforms to inform and better that metaphoric (and literal in this case) customer journey through data connectivity. Data is great, but unless it is applied in creative, customer-centric ways, then it will never yield the desired results.
There’s also been much debate, discourse and rhetoric about how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will affect businesses that use data to forge closer relationships with their customers. What’s clear is that we will see increased demand for trusted guidance and support from data experts as more businesses shore up their operations in line with the new European regulation. From an increased number of data protection officers to clearer controls for opt-in and opt-out marketing, the GDPR’s impact will be felt right across the marketing industry.
Next year will be a year of connections, across data, technology and people. It is the only way to deliver the best customer experience possible and the best way to use data to drive value, which just happens to be the very best way any of us can deal with GDPR today and tomorrow.