Defining a specific customer has become one of marketers’ toughest nuts to crack. Yet it’s one that brands can’t ignore, with the understanding and segmentation of audiences essential for success.

With an ever-growing list of channels for consumers to choose from, there is more data available on customers than ever before. However, simply collecting the data is not enough – marketers must break it down and analyse it for it to be used effectively. So what are the reasons why marketers are struggling to make the most out of their data? 

Data analysis not as easy as it looks

Technologies that analyse data are often siloed across different departments. Marketers often find that reporting on data from Facebook audiences differs completely to display for example, so they are not able to build a clear consistent picture of their customer’s behaviour online. Additionally, many marketers will turn to Google Analytics Premium as a go-to solution. However, marketers could be limiting themselves as Google is restricting the application to Google’s search engine provider alone, meaning marketers could be missing out on some integral data from other providers.

Data analysis is only set to get more difficult as consumers increasingly adopt devices. The average consumer has over three, but as IoT develops into a reality with fitness trackers to smart jewellery fast becoming part of people’s everyday lives, 2017 will introduce a new set of challenges. Marketers will need to implement a cross-channel marketing strategy to ensure they target the correct audience no matter where they are.

Don’t waste it, use it

Consumer technology may be evolving quickly, but so are the tools marketers can use to understand it. Data management solutions are becoming more agnostic and can pick up any signal with the ability to stitch together information from other devices based on machine learning to determine if they belong to one person or many. For example, Greenlight’s Data Management Platform (DMP) allows data collection across devices and interfaces to process it all as one user ID. This has tremendous implications for ensuring that marketing efforts deliver the best possible experience for customers. Being able to identify the ownership of devices with more confidence will allow for more precise messaging, and thus more effective campaigns, leading to better CTRs, lower costs and better ROI for clients.

In the short term, marketers can tag display campaigns and extract richer insights about who their users are exposed to, to then identify who the ‘clickers’ are as well as the ‘converters’ they should really be concentrating on. DMPs provide the opportunity for marketers to be guided on which segments are worth adding to their target audience segments to improve the overall performance of their campaigns.

And marketers can take this even further with first-party data onboarding, which includes full tagging of client sites alongside active campaigns and boarding offline data. By doing this, marketers will be able to unlock information on those visiting a business’ web properties and it will act as a cornerstone of a company’s campaign planning. The next step after this is using DMP as a more advanced cross-channel remarketing activity. The current process consists of marketers accidently siloing their retargeting, as they retarget those that came through that channel regardless of whether they came through other sources, which means they are often retargeting the same user several times. A solution for this is better understanding user intention and retarget through the right channel at the right time.

The most advanced use case of DMP would be bespoke attribution modelling. Depending on the requirements, this means quite a bit of resource investment and fluency in DMP technology. However, after mastering the campaign optimisation and audience-driven approach to digital marketing, the true value of bringing all the data into one platform can be unlocked.

For many, these steps may appear intimidating and this is where data management services come in. By combining descriptive, interaction and behavioural data, the service can help brands understand their customers better. Data management services can turn an overwhelming amount of data into a business advantage to support business growth and find out what a customer really wants.

Data management services can dive in as deep as a brand needs to help them define their exact customer and what they are looking for. Data analysis is more than just a buzzword as the effective use of data can improve business performance both in the short and long term, so marketers shouldn’t be scared of grabbing the bull by its horns and making the most of it.