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Marketers rely on data to initiate campaigns and target new and existing customers. However, although many companies operate with an attitude of "the more data, the better," many marketers simply don't know how to leverage the data they're collecting.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics, according to Forrester. Not knowing the best way to read, understand, and apply marketing data has a negative impact on a business—from lost revenue opportunities to lower efficiency and productivity and poor customer experiences.

Simply adding platforms is not the answer, however; that just adds to the data volume, leaving marketers unable to synthesize their data effectively.

Instead, consolidating—using fewer technology solutions that nevertheless incorporate all customer purchase and engagement information—allows marketers to draw accurate conclusions and develop data-driven campaigns.

This article will illustrate the obstacles that come with a platform-heavy marketing tech stack, including the effects of inevitable data disparities.

More Platforms, More Problems

Around 90% of organizations are using digital platforms to connect more closely to customers, yet nearly half (44%) indicate they could be doing so more effectively, according to a recent survey we at Maropost conducted.

Why, when using these tools meant for simplifying processes, is connecting with your customers still so complicated?

It stems from incorporating a number of marketing technologies—email solutions, social media tools, mobile marketing platforms, etc.—into an organization's tech stack. Most are stuck using multiple legacy systems to execute their marketing and e-commerce efforts. In fact, just 18% of organizations use a single platform for those efforts.

Though leveraging several solutions may be the popular choice, it's also problematic.

The issues start with the complexity of implementation. Each technology has its own licensing, training, maintenance, and support processes, and most likely an internal owner to oversee it all, adding up to significant time and money. As your team members familiarize themselves with the new system and slowly incorporates it into their everyday responsibilities, the result is a loss in productivity.

Even when the ramp-up period is done, marketers must switch between programs in order to plan, execute, and measure their campaign efforts, creating process inefficiencies, not to mention frustration.

In larger enterprises, where there are separate teams focused on different marketing functions and using different tools, it's difficult to connect all efforts into one larger goal and stimulate collaboration.

Those complexities extend far beyond the operational cost of managing too many disparate tools; they also greatly impact critical data that supports targeted and personalized customer engagement campaigns.

The Cost of Disconnected Data

Consumers today are sophisticated, with far higher expectations than ever before. They're aware that brands are collecting their personal information, but they also assume that information will be used to offer more relevant content for them across all channels. Therefore, it's the brand's responsibility to gather—and use—data in a way that enables a deeper connection with its audience and customers, through every channel and device.

Unfortunately, though two out of three professionals strongly agree that it is important to deliver a seamless customer experience, six in ten are not doing enough to create an omnichannel strategy. An omnichannel marketing approach takes all avenues into consideration, as well as where customers are in the customer journey, to create a frictionless experience that's also much more exciting for your potential buyers.

When they use a variety of platforms, marketing teams are spinning multiple plates—collecting siloed data coming in from various sources that don't "talk" to each other. Then, they must attempt to draw connections that aren't explicit and don't paint a full picture of a customer's journey.

For example, let's say you have separate programs for your email campaigns, e-commerce and website, and paid online advertising. How does your team understand the path to purchase from one interaction to the next?

Failing to have a single view of customer behavior makes knowing that all but impossible. Only 4% have a truly single view of their customers, a troubling statistic that illustrates the disparity between consumer expectations and brands' abilities to meet them.

Without insight into what action prompted further engagement or purchase behaviors, marketers are unable to make educated choices to improve their strategies. If you don't understand your customers, you can't give them a positive experience with the content, information, and deals needed to inspire further action.

Put simply: disjointed data results in a disjointed customer experience.

The only way to adequately integrate data from all your marketing channels is to implement an aggregated customer data solution.

All Hope Is Not Lost

No need to be discouraged, however; there are in fact engagement platforms that bring together various tools to make data collection easier and more efficient to help marketers make better decisions.

Fewer, more cost-effective solutions make it simpler to collect, store, access, and manage the critical data you need to engage customers. Just make sure you are asking the right questions to ensure the tech you choose aligns with your team, your processes and your objectives.

Unified technology not only breaks down departmental silos and promotes cooperation but also streamlines the planning and execution of marketing campaigns, giving marketers the aggregated customer data they need to learn their interests and behaviors. Making decisions driven from that data rather than gut reactions allows for smarter growth and innovation. Insights provide the opportunity for automated, segmented and behavior-based customer journeys, customized for every single member of your audience.

With all marketing arms working with the same tools and data, lines don't get crossed while gaps get filled.

A consistent omnichannel experience is integral for building and maintaining customer loyalty. When searching for a customer engagement platform, consider what will provide a data-driven approach to optimize marketing performance and customer communication across every channel.

Don't Let Data Keep You Up at Night

Data will continue to become a more and more critical asset for brands attempting to meet and exceed consumer expectations. But that's no cause for alarm.

You know what your customers want. You know what your customers need. Invest in the tools and processes that are going to help you give it to them to develop a loyal, long-lasting relationship.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Ross Andrew Paquette

Ross Andrew Paquette is the founder and CEO of Maropost, North America's fastest-growing marketing automation platform, as ranked by Deloitte Technology Fast 500.

Twitter: @RossAndrew

LinkedIn: Ross Andrew Paquette