Combining online and offline data for multichannel marketing

  • Posted: 26th June 2019

In today’s digital and mobile-first world, it’s easy to assume that online data is the be-all and end-all for your marketing strategy – not least because it’s simpler to gather and analyze than offline data.

But the truth is that they’re both very important, and the fact that offline data is typically harder than online data to collect, analyze and manage doesn’t change that. Brands all too frequently suffer from damaging silos, so it’s important to combine online and offline data. Relying on one at the expense of the other will lead to an incomplete view of how your customers are thinking and behaving.

So, how can you make them work together to drive your multichannel marketing strategy?

Defining online and offline data 

Firstly, let’s establish what they mean.

Online data basically means any data that has been generated from real-time online channels and activities – so internet browsing, emails, social media activity, in-app purchase history, you name it. It can relate to the content your prospects and customers are consuming, the devices they’re using, the actions they’re taking, and more. It’s the sort of information you can certainly use to create a more dynamic customer experience strategy, and to deliver more personalized marketing communications.

Offline data is any data that comes from an offline source (logically enough). This includes datasets bought from third parties, customer information that you’ve collected manually from an interaction such as an in-store purchase, or anything else that isn’t online, really.

Since retail isn’t anywhere near dead yet, you need both to get the most holistic view of how customers and prospects are interacting with your brand across multiple online and offline touchpoints. There’s a real lack of understanding when it comes to how they relate to each other.

The reality is that if you tie them together, you can understand which online interactions resulted in offline sales – and maybe even vice versa. You can then get a deeper understanding of what activities actually drive revenue. It also ensures a consistent and less fragmented customer experience.

The need to integrate online and offline data has led to the rise of advanced customer data platforms (CDPs), such as Tealium AudienceStream. Compared to more traditional data management platforms (DMPs), CDPs offer more sophisticated data capture, profiling and activation capabilities. Check out our full blog on CDP vs DMP.

Integrating online and offline data 

Integrating online and offline data (also known as ‘data onboarding’) can be challenging. You need to make sure that online and offline actions match up and can be resolved to a specific customer (also known as ‘identity resolution’).

Brands need to consider privacy, of course, and anonymize interaction data where possible, but offline data tends to include more personally identifiable information, and as such needs to be compliantly merged with online interactions.

The end goal is multichannel attribution, where you know the full value of each and every marketing activity: what works, what doesn’t, and what ultimately leads to conversions and sales. Products such as the Tealium Universal Data Hub can facilitate this, integrating and activating online and offline data in real-time, collecting, standardizing, transforming, and enriching this information to provide a real-time view of the customer.

This information can be delivered to third-party systems – allowing you to send all or a subset of your data anywhere you need to in real time. You can integrate data with pixels, SDKs, APIs, CSVs, and more.

Ultimately, whether you use Tealium or a similar system, it’s important to integrate data across online and offline touchpoints effectively. Treat it as a priority, and you’ll have a deeper understanding of your customers – and eventually, maybe even higher sales.

To discuss integrating online and offline data to help towards achieving true Single Customer View (SCV) marketing for your brand, contact our specialists today.

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