Working with customer data: challenging, but not impossible

May 23, 2022 | Fran Wens


In digital, knowledge is power. Yet, in practice it's not as simple to gain this knowledge anymore. Customers increasingly choose not to share their data via the websites or apps they use. What can organizations and marketers do to manage customer data correctly? The key: transparency and trust.

Nowadays, gaining insights into the purchasing behavior of your target audience isn't always a smooth process anymore. Recent developments in customer data allow consumers to regain control of their data.

Why it is harder to work with customer data

This is a great evolution, but unfortunately these developments also make it harder for organizations - and especially digital marketers - to do their jobs effectively. There is a lot of doubt about which data can be collected or processed and how to go about this. Many are looking for other, more anonymous alternatives to gain insight into their users’ online behavior.

Three factors influence this evolution:

  • Governments imposing new regulations and thus becoming more stringent.
  • Consumers becoming increasingly aware of their data and what happens to it.
  • Large tech companies starting to leverage data protection as a competitive advantage.
The New Rules of Customer Data

Managing qualitative data correctly

Though it is becoming more challenging for organizations to work with customer data, there's still plenty of reason to be hopeful. As long as you have good and qualitative data and manage it correctly, you can still set up effective targeted marketing campaigns.

To help businesses navigate these challenges, The Reference, organized The new rules of customer data, an event in which they took a deep dive into the topic together with legal and technology partners.


The key steps to keep in mind

Before getting started with the data that a consumer entrusts to your organization, there are three phases you should bare in mind:

First, as a company you need to do an assessment of the current situation. Find out where improvements can be made in terms of data management.

Next, it is important to gain more control or ownership over the technologies you use when processing data that you have collected with consumer consent. Do not rely solely on the technologies you use to process this data securely, but take this process into your own hands.

Finally, there is a growing importance for organizations to work on flexibility or adaptability in terms of tools and technologies used to manage this data.

Having the right technology does not automatically imply that you as an organization will also manage data correctly.

The New Rules of Customer Data

More control or ownership of your tools  

Organizations need to make a critical assessment of the analytical tools they use and consider alternatives. For example, a marketing data warehouse, alternatives to Google Analytics or a Customer Data Platform (CDP).

A CDP is a kind of data hub in which data from various sources is linked so that a 360° view of the consumer can be created. With a CDP, you get a good perspective of the journey a customer goes through before making a purchase and the interactions they have with the organization.

Organizations should cast a critical eye on the analytical tools they currently use and consider alternatives.

The New Rules of Customer Data

A technology platform shouldn't be a Swiss army knife

Finally, it is important to be flexible with your tools. Today, we are used to technology platforms functioning like Swiss army knives, relying on a single license for a variety of purposes. Of course, such a platform with a broad spectrum of functionalities cannot possibly excel in everything it does.

Although such a multifunctional digital suite certainly has its advantages, the required updates and dependence on a single partner can be a disadvantage. Composable architectures offer a more verstatile alternative.

Where the digital suite offers an all-in-one approach, a digital technology stack does the exact opposite. In such an architecture you combine different handpicked technologies that will help you achieve your business goals, such as ecommerce and CRM systems supplemented with data from web analytics tool.

Take control of your customer data

The key take-away is this: in order to remain compliant with ever-changing regulations and gain customer trust, you need to be in control of the data you collect, store and process. To achieve this, you need flexibility in terms of the technology you use. Make a critical assessment of your current technology stack and start looking for alternatives that offer you the capabilities and control you require.

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