Marketing Analytics enables numerous organizations across all industries to boost Marketing performance and maintain customer relationships. It requires dynamic cross-functional teams to work across numerous projects by leveraging intuitive tools and products to achieve their goals. Working with different teams can cause data to become fragmented across multiple systems. This can cause major problems as when Marketing decisions are made using fragmented data, they can muddle the picture and lead to faulty conclusions. This directly affects the customer insights that the organization hopes to acquire.
To combat this issue, companies must have a standard procedure put in place to ensure that data from multiple sources does not get fragmented. They can do this by building a Single Source of Truth for their Marketing Data. A Single Source of Truth is the practice of aggregating data from multiple sources into a single repository for the employees of the organization to gather customer insights effectively. This practice will help any organization gain exceptional customer and Marketing insights, helping them build a more satisfying customer experience.
In this article, you will get an in-depth understanding of building a Single Source of Truth for your Marketing Data and how it directly affects your Marketing Performance. It’ll also provide you with some of the challenges companies can face when building it and finally provide you with the key steps to design it for your Marketing Data. Excited to learn more about this topic in detail? Before we get into the details, watch this video to get a gist of our detailed course on Building a Single Source of Truth for Marketing.
P.S. This course is a part of our impeccably informative Marketing Analytics Masterclass. Click here to register for our Masterclass on Marketing Analytics and upgrade your Marketing skills to effectively design a Single Source of Truth for your Marketing Data.
Table of Contents
- What is a Single Source of Truth?
- Why Marketing Needs a Single Source of Truth?
- Challenges in Unifying Marketing Data
- How to Create a Single Source of Truth?
What is a Single Source of Truth?
Simply put, a Single Source of Truth is a Data Repository that is formed when data gets aggregated from multiple sources and put into a common location to enable all teams to get a birds-eye view of the data for making strategic decisions and gathering customer insights.
According to Hull.io, a Single Source of Truth enables teams and tools to work together, provides a personalized customer experience, and generates more efficient sales.
In general, a Single Source of Truth encompasses 4 main parameters:
- Certified List of Customers: A Single Source of Truth provides a holistic view of the customer data associated with the organization. It acts as a single point of access, allowing teams to leverage unified data seamlessly.
- Authoritative System of Record: Any changes that are to be made to the operational data are made in the One Source of Truth.
- Incorporates Business Rules: With a diverse set of systems being leveraged in tandem, often, each of them has a different set of rules that govern them. Hence, to ensure real-time availability of complete and accurate data, business rules should also be incorporated into a Single Source of Truth.
- Identity Resolution & Matching: Unifying your data into a Single Source of Truth helps transform and standardize it into an analysis-ready form. You can clean, remove duplicates, modify and prepare them for analysis with ease.
Why Marketing Needs a Single Source of Truth?
A Single Source of Truth can enable anyone in the organization to get a holistic view of the data. It is crucial in a field like Marketing because of the dynamically evolving nature of Marketing Data and its activities. Marketers can miss out on the valuable bigger picture, often due to the inconsistent availability of accurate and precise data. Hence, unifying complex cross-functional data from various sources helps Marketers carry out an insightful analysis and draw actionable insights. There are 6 reasons why having a One Source of Truth in place for your Marketing Data is an absolute must:
- Customer Segmentation
- Competitive Analysis
- Cross-selling & Up-selling
- Return on Marketing Investment
- Employee Productivity
Personalized interactions result in higher response rates from customers. Organizations must look at the records to know each customer to have personalized interactions with them. These include customized written and oral communication, reliance on the past trends of each customer. The only way this can be done is by having a One Source of Truth.
2) Customer Segmentation
The Marketing team needs to group customers depending on the value they provide to the company. By grouping customers into segments, teams can work with a limited set of customers allowing them to provide a more personalized experience and produce better results. Segmenting customers is possible by understanding their behaviors and preferences.
3) Competitive Analysis
A Single Source of Truth enables you to better understand how your competitors are dealing with customers. It helps you identify opportunities that they miss and also helps you optimize your tactics depending on the customer.
4) Cross-selling & Up-selling
Depending on your customer purchases, you can design target products for them. But, to do this you need to have a central Data Repository that keeps track of their purchase histories and transactions.
5) Return on Marketing Investment
By having a One Source of Truth, the Marketing team can better analyze and understand its customer’s preferences. By understanding their behaviours and patterns, Marketers can market their products more effectively and thereby earn better returns.
6) Employee Productivity
This reason is pivotal from an organization’s point of view. When an organization has a Single Source of Truth, they spend less time researching and gathering data. They can spend more time on the analysis of the data to gain valuable customer insights.
Challenges in Unifying Marketing Data
Setting up effective Marketing strategies involves collaboration from multiple teams to gather data from various sources. Hence, it can become challenging. For example, different sources store data in different formats, and to use this unified data for Analytics, it needs to be cleaned and transformed. Some of the challenges companies can face are:
1) Data Development Framework
Common misconception companies have is that it is very easy to unify Marketing Data because the Data Development Framework follows the standard SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). This simply does not work always, as each form of data does not follow the same unification process. Even though some parts of the SDLC can be leveraged, the overall unification framework is governed by policies and practices rather than a standard process.
2) Data Availability
When companies try to unify their data, they need to extract data from multiple sources. One problem that can arise is that the source systems are not designed to distribute data outside of their environment. This can cause issues in the extraction phase. Even if the data does get extracted, the format of the data is not the same for each source. This can cause the formation of Data Silos as well.
3) Missing Metadata
Metadata refers to the information about the data that is presented. In many cases, the metadata fields are missing when unifying the data. This can nullify the relationships between the data entries. Metadata is also not always supported by the management and its benefits are rarely discussed.
4) Poor Data Quality
A poor Data Quality represents all the faulty business processes that occur on the Marketing Data and misrepresents the relationships between the data. Hence, even if the data gets unified and the quality of the data is poor then the organization has wasted its time and resources in the unification process.
How to Create a Single Source of Truth?
To build a Single Source of Truth, your Marketing team needs to identify the data sources, pick the correct tools for analysis, clean or transform the unified data and maintain it. Companies can follow either a Top-Down or Bottom-Up approach to design a Single Source of Truth.
In the Top-Down approach, the main focus is on creating a Single Source of Truth that aligns with the vision of the business. More than 2 lines of business are required to implement the Top-Down approach. The Top-Down approach also requires implementing & incorporating rigorous IT governance processes.
In the Bottom-Up approach, a common need of the organization is identified and the Single Source of Truth is built according to that. A Bottom-Up approach comes in handy when there is an urgent need to deliver data or functionalities. A Proof of Concept is crucial in this approach and the main focus is on IT Agility.
There are 6 main steps that organizations can follow to create a Single Source of Truth:
- Identify Data Requirements
- Data Analysis
- Integration Design
- Integration Development
- Verify & Validate
- Deploy Solution
1) Identify Data Requirements
When organizations learn to identify the data requirements, they will know how the data will be accessed and used by the applications. Companies must be able to identify, define and describe the Data Elements that they need and have techniques to clean, format and standardize those elements.
2) Data Analysis
Data Analysis helps organizations identify & map data sources and determine domain standards. It maps the source data elements to their targets and determines how the data can be represented.
3) Integration Design
Integration Design helps to pull data from various sources. It is more than just data retrieval, it tries to match and merge different processes and makes decisions based on the data collected. It helps design the extraction and transformation processes to gather valuable customer insights.
4) Integration Development
Integration Development defines how to extract and transform the data. It implements the logic that was designed in the design stage. This is the stage where the development of the Single Source of Truth takes place.
5) Verify & Validate
Once the development stage is complete, you need to verify whether the data conforms and adheres to the acceptance and certification criteria. It certifies the incoming data and allows the users to verify the solution before implementing it.
6) Deploy Solution
Once all requirements are verified and validated, the next step is to deploy the Single Source of Truth. Deployment makes the data available for the enterprises to use by extracting customer data and linking it to the application.
A Single Source of Truth is a solution that companies can incorporate into the business processes that can enable them to better understand their customers and make better decisions. It’s a no-brainer that setting up an effective & robust One Source of Truth for your organization is no small feat. It has its share of challenges & limitations. But, once set up, an effective One Source of Truth can be of great benefit not just for the employees but also the customers.
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