Six Ways to Bridge the New Digital Divide

Sneakers from above. Male and female feet in sneakers from above, standing at dividing line.

Consumers’ expectations have changed. Blame it on Amazon or the ever-present smartphone, but customers expect immediate results, personalized marketing, instant delivery and authentic connections with brands all at once, delivered to the palm of their hands.

This is the new digital divide, the expectations of customers whether they are on mobile, email or in-store contrasted with brands ability to fulfill those expectations consistently. Customers have been pre-programmed by digital immediacy to expect instant gratification, but few brands are built to deliver that level of service.

The only way to bridge this divide is to use data to unify the customer experience across all of these diverse channels and speed up innovation, personalization and fulfillment.

But companies often find themselves in a state of data disarray. They’ve got a ream of historical data in one system, and a growing pile of social and mobile data in another. The struggle to combine these various databases for true customer insights rarely ends in success. So how do brands use data as a tool to meet the expectations of next-generation customers?

Here are six ways to transition from a state of data disarray to a place where you can confidently say you are bridging this new digital divide.

Separate Good Data from Bad

Every brand of any size has data on hand — historical data like in-store purchase history or CRM data. The first step is to determine which data is useful and which should be scrubbed to allow for more accurate customer insights.

Ingesting old data into your marketing software can actually do more harm than good, giving you an inaccurate or dated customer profile. Remember that customers are always changing, maturing and evolving, and treating them the same year after year — during periods where they may have evolved from dorm-living college students to young parents and homeowners — could actually turn them off.

Make sure any historical data you employ is either current or not completely time-sensitive — like psychographic data that is unlikely to change as quickly as demographic information.

Create a Data Infrastructure That Works

Don’t fall back into the trap of having to manually manipulate data or marketing initiatives to take advantage of data — that is exactly the inefficiency you are trying to escape. Use software and automation platforms that do the heavy lifting for you — automatically employing data to personalize, optimize and segment marketing campaigns.

If you set up an efficient data infrastructure on the front-end that leads to smarter marketing with only limited hands-on involvement, you are set up for success as data and automation increasingly become the key to personalized marketing at scale. Make sure the platforms you choose can scale with you as you grow and evolve as the science of marketing advances.

Create Rich Customer Profiles Using Data Across Channels

How a customer interacts with your email offers might only give you one small sliver of information on your customer. But pair that with how they engage on social media, in-store and through your loyalty platform, and suddenly you have a rich, complete profile of your customer. Make sure your data sources are unified, giving you a complete picture of your customer no matter how many ways they interact with you.

Buy a Data Platform

Few companies have the scale or in-house expertise to build their own data platforms. Leave this to the experts who will constantly update and evolve their data platforms to keep pace with the rapidly changing world of data-driven marketing.

Take advantage of the boom in software-as-a-service data platforms that take care of the science of marketing and leave you to focus on the art of marketing.

Make Social Media a Two-Way Relationship

Social media is a place where you can empower your customers to engage in a more active way than other areas of your business. Instead of just passive data like purchase history and frequency, social media is where you can give customers more control over their brand experience, soliciting product suggestions and unvarnished feedback that can help you shape how customer service and product development teams meet your customer’s needs.

Social media can be a conversation that leads to robust data that is hard to come by in traditional, transactional interactions.

Analyze and Respond

Data is only as useful as you make it. Make sure you are squeezing the most value out of your database by analyzing all the information you receive. Sometimes you find some hidden business secrets within a stockpile of analytics that can affect how you launch products, who your target customer really is, and which marketing messages really work.

Data-driven marketing should be a constantly evolving process, where you become more targeted and focused as you dig deeper and deeper into the data. Don’t be afraid to go where the data leads you.

Learn more ways to bridge the new digital divide by leaning on ActionIQ’s expertise

Action IQ is a leader in data-driven marketing that can transform outdated loyalty programs into game-changing 21st Century platforms. Learn more by reading our Smart-Hub CDP Solution Brief.

ActionIQ Team
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