12 Essential Data Sources to Understand the Customer Journey

What is the magic ingredient that makes companies 23 times more likely to acquire customers and nine times more likely to retain them?
Data-driven decision making.

Note the magic ingredient isn’t just “data.” Every organization has terabytes of the stuff lying around, with more coming in every day. What makes the difference is putting the data to work. It’s collecting, consolidating, analyzing, and generating insight—then acting on it.

It’s no small feat to move from a data-collecting to a data-driven marketing organization. According to the CMO Council, only 7 percent of marketers say they can deliver real-time, data-driven marketing engagements.

If you’re not in this wave of early adopters, the first step is collecting and consolidating your data. For this, marketers increasingly turn to customer data platforms (CDPs). This technology unifies many different sources of marketing data—including those from other technology, such as DSPs and DMPs.

But to get a true 360-degree view of the customer, which is where CDPs excel, you’ll want to pull in sources from across the organization. Then, after the data is consolidated, CDPs keep updating the data as it comes in from these sources. This gives you an always accurate customer view that lets you activate campaigns based on targeted, segmented and personalized data. Start by consolidating these 12 data sources (and don’t forget to read our post on creating a Customer Journey Map next).

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12 Essential Customer Data Sources

Connecting these data streams and consolidating them will give you a clearer view of your customers and their behavior. You’ll be able to see which web visitors also come to the store, which blog browsers also buy online and more. This more comprehensive understanding can lead to better personalized marketing that compels action.

  1. In-Store and Online Sales Data

    If your organization has brick-and-mortar locations, it’s absolutely crucial to unite your real-world data with your online records. Both in-store and online sales data needs to be connected to your CDP to get a comprehensive view of customer activity.

    Sales data combines well with nearly every data type on this list to generate new insights and new opportunities for personalization. And the possibilities for targeted personalization are too good to pass up.

    For example, you could use in-store purchase information to offer a personalized newsletter featuring related items in the online store, or vice versa. The customer gets more relevant offers, so is more likely to bring in repeat business.

  2. Web Browsing Data

    The end goal of content marketing is for our audience to make a purchase decision. We need to connect web browsing data to sales data to prove that link and justify our budget.

    But great marketing is about more than proving your value. It’s also about ROI. Understanding how your audience experiences your content makes it easier to suggest more relevant next steps, offers, and experiences, including which solutions to offer and how to position them.

  3. Survey Data

    You probably survey your customers. Maybe you track Net Promoter Score (NPS), product and service satisfaction, and employee helpfulness in a store or over the phone. But where does that data go? Ideally, you’d have a record of each person, the surveys they’ve completed and their responses. Survey data, when added to the data in your CDP, gives you a more complete picture and could help you identify your next brand ambassadors as well as those customers who are about to churn.

  4. Customer Service Data

    Here’s where we leave the safe confines of marketing data and get into the organization at large. Odds are you’re continuing to nurture people after they’ve made a purchase. So, it’s crucial to know how they interact with the brand outside of marketing.

    Imagine if your next email to a customer included details from their last customer service interaction. Even a simple, “we’re glad we could solve your X problem, here’s an article that can help you avoid it or fix it in the future” can make a difference in how your customer feels about the brand.

  5. Sales Department Data

    The Sales Department has several useful data streams for marketers. As we discussed in number 1, there’s sales data or the list of deals closed—incorporating that into your CDP can help trace the buyer journey and properly credit marketing’s role in generating revenue.

    Then there are the potential prospects, which can help your department create personalized content. Finally, there are the deals that didn’t go through for one reason or another. Combine that information with the other data streams on the list and you can go in for a highly-coordinated second try.

  6. Advertising Platforms

    Knowing who is looking at which ads, and which ads are the most effective, is valuable information in itself. Combined with web browsing and online and offline sales data, it’s indispensable. Connect your Google Ads, AdRoll, and other ad accounts to your CDP to make both your ads and your supporting content more effective.

  7. Web Analytics

    This is another data set that’s useful on its own. But it becomes exponentially more so when combined with the rest of the customer dataset. You can get a much greater context for bounce rates, time-on-page, click paths, traffic sources and conversions with Google Analytics or Adobe connected to your CDP.

  8. Marketing Automation Platforms

    Your automation platform is already a repository for a great deal of data, but it can’t be fully comprehensive on its own. Connecting your HubSpot/Marketo/etc. platform to your CDP helps eliminate duplicate information, round out the view of the customer, and further personalize your nurture campaigns.

  9. Loyalty Data

    What motivates your loyalty-program customers and how can you use that data to attract more consumers like them? It could be special discounts, gifts, or exclusive events. It could also be interaction with your brand on social media or unique perks like early access to much-anticipated new releases. Loyalty programs can be a source of crucial data that allows you to target your audience in a more meaningful way.

  10. Mobile App Data

    Maybe your mobile app is part of your loyalty program but maybe it’s not. Either way, you’ll uncover rich insights by connecting this data source to all the rest. For example, Muji developed a mobile app after realizing website visitors often browse online and purchase in store. By knowing online browsing history, in-store purchase history and real-time store inventory, Muji used personalized coupons and well-targeted in-app push notifications to boost coupon redemption by 100%.

  11. Legacy Data

    It’s highly likely your business has data that never got connected to the larger landscape. It might be lurking on servers, in personal hard drives, even on paper in filing cabinets.

    This data can be essential for understanding your customer journey and how it evolves. It’s worth pulling that old data in. And, of course, if you’re still storing unconnected data, now’s the time to hook it up to your platform.

  12. Wearables and the Internet of Things

    Internet-connected devices, from smartwatches to coffeemakers, are already collecting and transmitting massive amounts of data. The practical applications may be a work in progress, but it’s important to understand what it is and how to collect it. This new source of data provides one more way for businesses to understand their customers—giving marketers who incorporate IoT data an edge.

Data-Driven Marketing Matters

The great marketer, author, and mysterious force of nature Seth Godin once said, “content marketing is the only marketing left.” Perhaps today, the logical corollary is: “Data-driven marketing is the only marketing we have left.”

These data sources will help you get to know your customers and create marketing that compels action. Customers won’t settle for less than personalized, relevant content and offers. Anything else is just a brief interruption, something modern consumers are well-trained to ignore.

Learn more about customer data platforms and how it works!

Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor heads up marketing at Arm Treasure Data. He focuses on marketing, martech, CDPs and digital marketing. Follow him on Twitter @RtMixMktg.