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Joining up online and offline data: seven predictions for the next six months

A few weeks ago I attended my first Digital Cream London event, sitting in on a rountable about joining up data across online and offline channels.

The three sessions with over 30 digital marketing professionals unveiled some interesting insights that I think are worth sharing.

This roundtable was, in my opinion, one of the more relevant ones as the customer journey becomes increasingly complex. 

Detailed findings are included in our free-to-access trends briefing, sponsored by BlueKai, but in this post I’m going to focus on predictions for the next six months that were provided by the delegates.

It emerged that many organisations are not sufficiently equipped to deal with the challenges around disparate data from online and offline channels. Trying to plot a route across a mix of multiple channels as well as a growing number of devices is proving to be quite difficult.

In addition to these challenges, there is often a divide between traditional and digital marketers, affecting both the teams and customer journey.


Before I begin I would like to give some ‘food for thought’ in the form of statistics.

These are taken from our Online Measurement and Strategy Report and are designed to get you thinking about your own company and where you see yourself:

  • In 2013, the proportion of organisations having a company-wide strategy in place that ties together their data collection and analysis to business objectives decreased from 22% to 20%, illustrating that this is still a challenge for companies.
  • Data integration is increasingly important to a multichannel marketing strategy, yet 34% do not integrate their data at all, and 14% do not have a business intelligence strategy.
  • The most commonly cited barrier for company respondents was a lack of budget and resources, with 50% of respondents citing this as an issue.

Future themes and trends

Internationalisation is high on the agenda, with data at the core

Most retailers recognise that there is a significant opportunity to extend the reach of their brand by selling online into new markets.

However, conducting cross-border ecommerce in any country comes with both benefits and challenges.

Internationalisation is indeed something that all marketers see at the core of their six-month plan. Data is seen to become a core part of these activities.

Data will become more accessible

According to Digital Cream delegates, data is often inaccessible or unusable. Online teams are working separately from offline teams, and it was made clear that time constraints are inhibiting them from sharing the information that would enable them to join the data and close the links.

Marketers see the next six months bringing better systems in place to join up the online and offline data and make it easier to understand and access it.

Data management platforms will become more popular

A good multichannel service isn’t just about allowing a customer to hop between channels; it’s about allowing them to carry out their tasks in full, with as little friction as possible, on the channel of their choice. To join up ongoing marketing activities, data is the link.

Highly dynamic data is becoming more accessible as data management platforms are recognised as ‘up and coming’ systems.

Data analysts will help refine the data

Data is being created across both online and offline channels, making it difficult for marketers to find links between the two.

Marketers see the future bringing data analysts to act as a link between the online and offline teams, working efficiently to refine and create value in the data.

Management is expected to become a catalyst for change

It was apparent from the roundtables that boardroom buy-in is still lacking in some companies. Executives want fast results but the implementation of many systems is resisted if immediate results are not achieved.

As these teams strive to do the best they can digitally, they are lacking in the tools and support to compete effectively online. Often this can lead to the company lagging behind competitors.

The upcoming months will hopefully see digital champions emerging from the flames to become strong advocates for digital transformation and act as catalysts for change.

Marketing efforts will be redirected

A very strong point was made on the day by BlueKai on segmenting consumers. They suggested to a delegate who was having trouble targeting effectively to “stop marketing to the consumers that are never going to buy anything”.

By not focusing on the consumers that will never be customers, marketing efforts can be redirected, effectively saving time and money.

The whole experience should become fun

The effort to join up the customer journey online and offline is often an unenjoyable experience, down to lack of knowledge and tools.

Marketers do believe that it will get easier and indeed a more pleasant experience.

Data and the customer are at the very core of current marketing, and indeed it appears they may be staying there for the foreseeable future. Do you agree or disagree with these predictions? Is there any you would like to add? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

For more best practice tips, download our Best Practices in Data Management report, which explores the strategic and everyday issues and opportunities presented by the explosion of customer and behavioral data.

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