Improving Customer Insights and Targeting through Data Integration
Businesses seeking to better reach their target audiences need the most accurate and up-to-date consumer data to inform their marketing strategies and meet their business goals. In fact, data-driven insights can literally make the difference between a hit or a miss when it comes to truly understanding audiences. But, as the sheer volume of collected data grows, the variety of collection methods, visualization formats, and management systems needed to organize and analyze this data can prove confusing and challenging.
As most companies pull data from several internal and external sources — which can be time-consuming and tedious — the need for a simplified organization methodology is incredibly important.
Enter data integration.
Data integration is the process of combining data originating from different sources into a single location in order to get the most holistic view. Below I outline three types of data integration, explaining how they can give businesses greater insight into consumer behavior and how they can boost productivity for marketing teams.
Three Forms of Data Integration
Data integration can be done manually, through built-in features of applications, or by using a variety of integration tools to automate the process. There are three common forms of integration including:
- Data Federation – A form of data virtualization that creates a unified data model from different systems.
- Data Consolidation – Physically combining data from several systems into one location.
- Data Propagation – Copying data from multiple application system sources into a local database.
It’s important to keep in mind that because every business is different, the approach will depend on available resources, existing infrastructure, the volume or complexity of data, the accessibility of systems, and legal requirements. But while the approach may vary, the overarching benefit is the same: bringing together data from different sources into one central system.
Improving Audience Insights
Marketing teams can use integrated data for actionable insights to guide targeting efforts when building their outreach campaigns. These actionable insights shed light on real-world consumer behavior and habits, allowing marketers to view data intelligence across several platforms in a consolidated view. The data integration process also promotes high-quality, accurate data and makes it easier to update consumer profiles with newly gathered information. This, in turn, enables marketers to access previously unknown, hidden, or untapped trends that can lead to new insights and further hone outreach strategies.
Put in the context of today, there will be behavioral changes that are imprinted on consumers. So, integrated data that can provide early insights, and be a leading indicator for analysis, will be key.
Inefficient data preparation, processing, and analytics processes often lead to bottlenecked teams. What’s more, using outdated systems or data cleansing platforms increases costs, time, and resources spent identifying relevant data. Normalizing and working with data that’s been structured, organized, and stored separately is challenging under the best of circumstances and impossible at worst.
Businesses embracing data integration often experience greater collaboration because it eliminates access barriers like geographic location or siloed teams. Moreover, as new information is gained, the data sets are continually updated, enriched, and improved — a cumulative benefit.
Data integration enables error checking and reporting to be automated in real time. Data that has been vetted for anomalies and fraud leads to more informed decision-making as a result of better understanding specific customers and their interests, driving a greater return on investment.
A successful data integration strategy will not only address concerns about whether or not you are collecting and storing valuable data but also increase efficiency in the analytics process, cut costs, and foster a competitive edge. The more integrated your data is, the more confident you can be that your data is both usable and accurate.
Data integration can unlock exciting new opportunities for businesses to gain actionable insights into their target audiences, bolster their marketing campaigns, and lay the foundation for growth.
Jeff White is founder and CEO of Gravy Analytics.