Matt Seeley is the Global President of Experian Cross-Channel Marketing and one of the dozens of thought leaders featured in DMA’s just-published 2017 Statistical Fact Book.

matt seeleyGreek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant is change.”

While the quote perfectly sums up any number of aspects in life, it is a particularly accurate assessment of the marketing industry. Over the years, we’ve seen marketers transition from a heavy reliance on direct mail to more channel-specific tactics to reach customers, such as email and mobile. As part of that transition, the focus of many marketers has gone from understanding their customer bases at a segmentation level to gaining deeper insight into who their customers are as individuals. In fact, according to our 2016 Digital Marketer Report, the top priority for marketers is to learn more about who their customers are and what they want.

But how can marketers achieve this goal?

Fortunately, as the marketing industry has changed, so has consumer behavior. As the latest and greatest technology continues to flood the market, consumers have changed the way they interact with brands. Mobile devices, social networks, apps and wearables are just a few of the ways today’s consumer engages. The good news for marketers is, more channels and devices equal more data. And more data means marketers can finally deliver on the promise of highly personalized, one-to-one marketing communications.

“But the sheer volume of available data is only half the battle.”

Gone are the days when marketers could rely on the customer journey model to help determine how to communicate with customers. No two customers are the same. Each person interacts with a brand in their own unique way. Instead, by focusing on the needs of the customer, brands can build loyalty that lasts a lifetime.

But the sheer volume of available data is only half the battle. It’s not until marketers can derive relevant insights from what the data is saying that the real value of data can be recognized. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of numbers in a spreadsheet. With the right technology, resources and data management practices, marketers can realize the true power of data – the ability to fill in the blanks about their customers and reach them where they want to be reached, regardless of channel.

Collaboration is key

As we head into 2017 and beyond, look for more brands and organizations to centralize their disparate data sets. With customers engaging with brands across various channels, many organizations have data sets that don’t always speak to each other. For example, point-of-sale systems, CRM systems and loyalty programs all capture unique data points about customers, but often live in separate databases or systems. By breaking down these silos and encouraging collaboration, marketers are able to access a more singular view of customers. And more informed marketers can create a seamless experience for those customers across all devices and channels.

Go beyond the channel

In order for marketers to succeed, they need to put the customer at the center of the marketing strategy. In other words, marketers no longer have to rely on basic demographic information. The availability and combination of first-, second- and third-party data, as well as the appropriate partnerships to match customer data, enables them to communicate only the most relevant messages to individual customers, regardless of channel. This approach helps marketers tell one cohesive story across all devices, rather than the segmented messages of the past.

What’s working and what’s not?

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of data is the ability to measure the sales impact of an entire campaign. By delivering specific messages to individuals, marketers can better understand which messages are resonating with customers, as well as which channels are performing the best. This level of insight can help marketers become more informed about their next interaction with the customer to create a better customer experience overall.

There’s no way around it, the volume of data is growing exponentially every day. But data can be every marketer’s best friend if they are able to manage it effectively and pull actionable insights. True personalized communications are within grasp. And once the next change in the industry comes along, it will be data that will help marketers adapt and succeed.

sfb-drop shadow-01More than a dozen thought-leaders from across the marketing ecosystem have contributed their perspectives to DMA’s 2017 Statistical Fact Book. Executives from leading solution providers such as Return Path, Vehicle, IBM and more have shared how best to build a customer-centric marketing operation in the face of technological disruption. Download your copy of the Statistical Fact Book today and gain the business intelligence you need to make informed marketing decisions in the digital age.

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