March 2nd, 2021

Are You Ready to Break Down Silos and Win at Customer Data Management?

Knowing that a storm is coming and being ready for it are two separate things.

New privacy laws, browser and device protections, and walled-garden data sharing restrictions have been at the top of the agenda at industry conferences for years, and marketers are keenly aware of the impact those changes are about to have on the way they do business: from gathering consent to managing customer data, from cross-channel measurement to targeting and personalization.

But that doesn’t mean they’re prepared for it.

To find out where everyone stood, we asked Forrester Consulting to reach out to marketing, analytics and privacy leaders at B2C enterprises around the country. We just published the findings, and the verdict is damning: most companies struggle with customer data management and operate in organizational silos that prevent them from seeing the big picture.

Thankfully, it’s not too late.

Today, most marketers struggle with customer data management

Customer data management is the life force of modern B2C marketing. When a new channel becomes available (a new popular social network, for instance, or a new streaming service), brands have new opportunities to meet their customers where they are and develop a stronger bond with them. But each channel is a new stream of customer data, and in today’s fast-paced and highly-fragmented media environment, companies don’t always have the time or resources to plan for a smooth integration of that new data stream into their existing customer data infrastructure.

Perhaps the new data is missing some critical fields to connect to existing data, or it’s adding new fields that don’t fit the company’s existing schema, or it can’t be collected at the same cadence, or validated with the same level of accuracy. Whatever the reason, more often than not, the company ends up with a new data silo. And as time goes by, those silos end up further apart, the teams responsible for them grow more independent, and cross-channel marketing becomes more difficult.

According to the Forrester study commissioned by Neustar, managing the volume of customer data available today is a top concern among marketers (70%), and developing strategies to collect, manage and distribute data is one of their top priorities (80%). Few of them (38%) feel that they have the tools to take full advantage of cross-channel opportunities.

Internal teams are poorly aligned to develop effective marketing strategies

The problem of data silos is not exclusive to marketing channels. At most companies, the internal teams responsible for overall marketing management, data governance, and privacy management are poorly aligned too. The questions of collecting, managing, and using customer data are answered by different people, with their own agendas and KPIs, their own systems and workflows, and, in most cases, little incentive to communicate with one another.

As a result, privacy is often viewed by marketers as a hindrance to their work. In the Forrester study, 61% of respondents described the working relationship between their privacy and marketing teams using terms like ‘ad-hoc,’ ‘inconsistent,’ ‘misaligned,’ and even ‘strained.’ Only 5% called it functionally ‘aligned.’ If we drew a Venn diagram with marketing, analytics and privacy as their own regions, we’d be hard-pressed to find a healthy intersection.

Organizational silos are not a new thing, of course, but they’re not a fact of life and need to be broken down. 

Identity is the common language needed to break down internal silos and face down outside challenges

The future of marketing requires all internal teams to work in lockstep. That’s an organizational decision, first and foremost. But there’s little hope of pulling it off if those teams don’t have a common language to refer to customers in the various databases and marketing activation platforms operated by the company and its partners. That’s where identity comes in.

The best identity offers a unified view of the customer across the enterprise. Privacy leaders can use it to define a data governance strategy for the company—setting boundaries and supervising how individual data points feed into a customer profile, and at what cadence; marketers can use it to reconcile omnichannel media touchpoints along the customer journey, refine targeting, and optimize campaign performance; and data scientists can use it to compute longitudinal performance metrics (like customer lifetime value) and discover new consumer segments for the brand.

The boost in data availability and data quality that comes with identity-based solutions benefits all internal stakeholders. Forrester points out that only 27% of marketers feel that their organization is ready to take on personalized, omnichannel marketing this year, and only 15% are up for multi-touch attribution and analytics. Identity is the key to unlock these capabilities.

Why now?

Apple is getting ready to switch ad tracking from opt-out to opt-in on the iPhone this Spring, essentially shutting off user-level ad tracking capabilities for half of all mobile users in the U.S.. Third-party cookies, already persona non grata on Safari and Firefox, will shortly get the boot from Chrome too. And walled gardens, under growing regulatory pressure, are quickly becoming advertising black boxes where simple things like impressions can’t be easily tied back to a marketer’s campaign anymore.

And all of these disruptions are happening at a time when major new e-commerce and advertising platforms are adding further fragmentation to a marketing ecosystem that was already bursting at the seams and in the middle of a pandemic that’s redefining how people shop, where they shop, and what products and services they choose to purchase.

To make sense of those imminent changes and stay engaged with increasingly finicky customers, marketers need data they can count on. There’s a long way to go—barely 14% of respondents in the Forrester study feel prepared for a cookieless future—but help is here.

Learn more

Download the full study: Transforming Customer Data Management - Bridging The Gap Between Consumer Privacy And People-Based Marketing to learn more and find out what other top challenges are keeping marketers up at night.

Are your internal teams integrated? How do you stack up against your competitors? Could you benefit from an audit on the impact of data deprecation on the health of your customer data?

Contact us to find out how Neustar is helping brands like yours get on the path to more impactful, results-driven marketing.



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