In an ideal world, every organization would connect their offline and online data successfully. However, for most organizations today, the goal of connecting offline and online data is simply out of reach due to a plethora of issues. Some of the main ones I’ve witnessed, including siloed data, fragmented processes, a lack of data standardization, and not speaking to your customers in a unified voice, prevent many companies from accomplishing this unification.
Do these roadblocks sound familiar? If so, then I’ve got great news. In this post, I’ll go over each of the above problems and provide potential solutions to help bridge the gap between both types of data. Remember, there is no fast track to solving these issues, but these tips can help you get moving in the right direction.
Before we get started, let’s begin with a quick refresher.
What Is Online Data?
Behavioral information you gain from a user within your digital properties or other digital marketing materials like emails and banners.
What Is Offline Data?
Information that comes from in-store purchases, phone call data, customer surveys, direct mail, and more. Note: Both types of data involve human behavior.
Common Roadblocks & Solutions
#1: Siloed Data
The challenge behind siloed data is typically one of two things. One: you didn’t know the data source existed, so you find it difficult to get a hold of that data source. Two: your access to data is terrible. If you know your data source exists, but you have to go through multiple hoops of approval to gain access to it, this could also be problematic. No one likes having to go through that much red tape.
You need to get executive buy-in and focus on managing upward. Emphasize that connecting offline and online data is a big deal (which it is!) and talk to the right people to give you the access you need. Focus on keeping the lines of communication open.
#2: Fragmented Processes
Fragmented processes equates to a lack of visibility, and you don’t want to be blindly leading your organization into an abyss. If a project requires ten different people to get it done, but those ten people don’t have the same goal or aren’t part of the same change, this can be a recipe for disaster. You need everyone on the same and understanding the end-to-end processes.
Start small and start with yourself. Do a self-audit over a 30-day period to identify pain points in your own processes. This helps pinpoint specific areas that need improvement and where you should advocate for change. Once you are ready to move to larger scale, implement a well-documented system on what your organization’s processes are as a whole. Using wikis or spreadsheets is a great place to start optimizing internal and external operations.
#3: A Lack of Data Standardization
Offline and online data are formatted it different ways, which can make combining the data quite difficult. It’s not an apples to apples comparison. Let’s say you are collecting in-store data, with some of that data being from transactions. Maybe you are collecting in-store visits as well. Digital or clickstream data has a different granularity. You’ll get a hit every time someone clicks on something.
Hire an ETL developer or data analyst because they can help with writing scripts and changing the format of the data. The goal is to have your data formatted and speaking the same language.
#4: Not Speaking to Your Customers in a Unified Voice
If your organization’s customer experience lacks consistency across all touchpoints, you are most likely not speaking to your customers in a unified voice. Executing this can be difficult, especially if your departments have different goals. This can especially be the case for larger companies.
Executive buy-in also comes into play with problem #4. The executives who are responsible for each department need to have a solid vision and alignment, and communicate that vision from the top-down. Also keep a keen eye on your marketing and sales teams and how they are promoting and selling to your customers. The goal is for your organization to operate like a well-oiled machine that is aligned on the mission and value you provide to create a consistent voice.
There’s no quick fix to connecting your online and offline data, but bridging that gap is a great goal to aim for. When you stitch together offline and online data, you can gain a more holistic view of your customers from all touchpoints, and as a result, better tailor your business toward their needs. You can also make your marketing more specific, or create ways to optimize and improve the customer experience. Remember to take this process day by day and practice patience. Start small by making your own changes, and begin to work your way up (or down) throughout your own organization.