After seeing devastating flood damage in South Carolina, newscasters began repeating the phrase "thousand-year-storm" to describe what had happened. But many mistakenly interpreted the phrase to mean that the storm was likely to happen once every thousand years.
In actuality, the "thousand" is in reference to the likelihood of it happening in any year. You could actually experience a thousand-year-storm multiple times in a year. But don't let that stop armchair statisticians from describing it as something the area might have been "due" for. That hinges on the very human belief that events are somehow supposed to make sense rather than be completely random. In reality, a sodden neighborhood's chances of a three-day downpour is exactly the same, every year, forever.
In much the same way, marketers believe that vast data collection somehow leads to coherent data organization. We're collecting more and more of it every day, through every channel. And many of us believe that all that data will somehow add up to reveal a consistent identity - a unified picture of a consumer that aids personalization and customer experience.
But a global report conducted by Signal indicates that just six percent of marketers have figured out cross-channel identity. That means data fragmentation is an overwhelming challenge for a vast majority of marketers, putting them in the position of constantly playing catch-up while they juggle bits of a picture that don't make sense.
Obstacles like data collection and fragmentation mean that marketing measurement and personalization are out of reach-crucially important elements that could be solved with preference management. Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, is an essential tool in creating seamless user experiences, customer engagement and, most importantly, a whole picture where there were once just pieces. Having a lot of data is one thing, knowing how to connect it is another.
And the upside to this slow race? Anyone already confronting these issues is ahead in the game. Knowing that such a minuscule amount of marketers have the capabilities of cross-channel identity means that those who can figure it out now will stay in the lead and continue to offer consumers what they want.
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hit bookstores last summer. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.
Labels: cross-channel identity, customer experience, data collection, data fragmentation, marketers, personalization, preference management