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Reality Marketing: Integrating Customer Data

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Marketers have plenty of good intentions when it comes to their desire to have a common view of the customer. Our IBM State of Marketing Survey 2012 in fact showed that 85 percent of marketers would like an integrated marketing suite to gain a better line of sight on their campaigns and customers.

But sometimes good intentions hit the rocky shores of reality.  And this is what we found in our survey, with many respondents saying that disparate systems and budget constraints were challenges to accessing, managing, and analyzing data across channels.

Speaking of reality. Akin Arikan, EMM product marketing manager, and I had our own heavy dose of reality this past Thursday during the Q&A of our Webinar, Do You Compare? Insights from IBM’s Annual Global Survey of Marketers: Bringing Together Digital and Cross-channel Marketing.

Marketers are struggling with integration. Indeed, the bulk of the questions from the more than 240 webinar participants pointed to data integration challenges: more specifically, where should they start and how should they integrate digital and cross-channel marketing data?

As I reflected on these questions, the easy answer from a vendor’s perspective would, naturally, be more technology. Yet, integration of data, technology, processes, and systems strike at the beating pulse of a business. They are complicated and critically important with no easy answers.

Better to take a step back and pause. In our survey, we point to some baby steps organizations can take to get different marketing functions at least talking. These steps include mapping your engagement of customers across all channels and business functions; defining metrics and analytics that meet executive-level rigor; and identifying quick wins that showcase cross-channel marketing success in business terms (this part is critical because it will position you to expand to other marketing data silos).

In our view, IT can help facilitate these steps. The partnership between marketing and technology can drive critical integration throughout the enterprise. Both finance and supply chain functions went through similar evolutions by partnering with IT. So why would marketing go it alone?

An integrated approach to marketing makes good business sense. A direct bead on the customer – their preferences and motivations – grants marketers permission to engage customers in a personalized dialogue, an opportunity to nurture and build loyalty with a differentiated customer experience carefully calibrated through different channels. That’s not easy, but it’s reality for any marketer today.

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