Using data to turn marketing into a service

A company website or other online service is often the first contact between a company and its customers. Someone is interested in us – but who are they, and which of our products or services are they interested in? Unfortunately, these questions often remain unanswered, if they are even asked in the first place. In the worst case, this passivity can cause the company to lose potential customers.

Collecting data from various channels (websites, applications, and purchase and social media) is vital for establishing a 360°customer view. Houston Analytics’ Web Data Collector (WDC) is an easy and cost-effective open-source-based solution for collecting web data at the cookie level. The benefit of using cookies is that using the data does not require identification of individual customers. This allows the interaction with the customer – that is, targeting of marketing and website content optimization – to begin almost in real time.

When the customer finally identifies him- or herself, for example by subscribing to a newsletter or providing personal details in connection with an online purchase, the data collected using WDC can easily be linked to him or her. The data can also be linked to data from conventional brick-and-mortar stores. The resulting 360° customer view allows marketing to be customized into a personalized service.

The online store newsletters are a good practical example of the added value provided by this data. When something in the newsletter makes customers click into the online store, WCD identifies them using a cookie, which enables optimization of the offering. This also allows modelling of the shopping behaviour of different types of customers, helping to develop the newsletter to better meet individual customers’ needs.

In marketing, time is often critical to both sales and costs. Speed is one of WDC’s main competitive advantages. The collected data is ready for use within 1–15 minutes, based on the company’s needs. This allows implementation of real-time cross-channel actions.

Many companies have encountered problems relating to insufficient capacity when collecting data. With WDC, this is not a problem. Even though data is stored in the cloud at a high level of detail, enabling e.g. analyses, precise targeting, scoring, and optimization, there is no danger of running out of storage space.

Data collected into WDC is not transferred or sold to outsiders. Only the customer who collected the data has the ownership of and the right to use the said data. This ensures the reliability of the solution. Together with an appropriate data file description, this operating model is an important part of a transparent operating practice. It safeguards the trust of consumer customers, also after the new EU General Data Protection Regulation takes effect.

Data is a valuable raw material for competitiveness, and is generated at an ever-increasing rate. It should not be ignored; it should be harnessed to serve the customers and the company’s business operations. The first step is to make data collection easy. This can be done with WDC.