Today’s marketing pros know better than anyone that compelling consumer experiences are increasingly multi-channel. It’s not just about sending an offer via email or text; marketing spans every point of engagement, including offline experiences in a retail store or other physical location. This is what Forrester is referring to when they discuss the importance of ‘moments-based marketing’.
The holistic approach is a good thing for brands and consumers alike — if it’s done right. In reality, the data that marketers rely so heavily upon today has become increasingly fragmented, which causes all sorts of issues.
Many organisations are essentially copying and storing their information in a different database for every marketing tool they use. That means that they’re not really working with live data but, say, a dozen or 15 or 18 different versions of their data that are never quite in sync. This in turn drives up costs and drags down performance and responsiveness because of the added time needed to copy and move data from one system to another.
These silos ultimately produce crummier consumer experiences. You send a customer an abandoned cart campaign for an item they’ve actually purchased, for example, because your email or SMS data is 12 hours behind your web store or browser data. Brands that depend upon 15 different data silos are essentially communicating with 15 different versions of a single person: That person one hour ago, that person six hours ago, that person two days ago. This absolutely leads to poorer customer experiences over time. Imagine sending a customer who spent $200 in your mobile app yesterday a loyalty campaign today that begins: “We’ve noticed that you haven’t shopped with us in a while.”
A different approach
Data increasingly moving to the cloud didn’t solve problems like these on its own. In fact, it may have exacerbated the situation, since many organisations are still running a disparate mix of legacy backend systems even as they spin up new resources in the cloud. Data is like gold to today’s marketing teams, yet they’re burying it farther and farther out of reach.
There’s a better way, one that delivers on the original promise of cloud — namely, lightning-fast processing speed and virtually unlimited scale, while only paying for what you actually need — while keeping all of your marketing data in one place. It’s the warehouse-first model, and it’s revolutionising marketing.
In a warehouse-first approach, you run all of your marketing platforms and tools on top of a single cloud data warehouse like Snowflake or Databricks or AWS Redshift. No more data silos, no more confusing or outdated campaigns, no unnecessary costs, no lag times to copy data from one location to another. You’re running everything based on a single, live source of your data — you engage with your customer as they exist in the moment, not with 15 slightly different versions of that customer.
This is the next wave of marketing innovation and how we use and manage data. And it’s bringing about some potentially massive benefits not just for marketers but for the entire organisation, not to mention its customers and prospects. Let’s take a closer look at several advantages of a warehouse-first approach for consumer marketing.
Lower long-term costs
While there’s certainly a cost associated with a cloud data warehouse architecture, it can ultimately reduce your data-related spending over time, in part because you no longer have to service those 12 or 15 other backends. All of the tools you use sit on top of the cloud data warehouse and pull from the same data. That’s a massive benefit for marketing alone, but also potentially for any group in the organisation that relies on data. (These days, that means just about every team in the company.) This even leads to improved collaboration and experiences within the company: tighter marketing and IT partnerships, for example, since both departments benefit from cleaner data with lower management costs and other complexity that once put them at odds with each other.
A single source of truth for marketers
Those 15 different versions of a customer mentioned above create collateral problems within the marketing department itself because, especially in large companies, there might be a different person or team responsible for every different channel. They can’t even agree internally about which version of data is most accurate, creating painful challenges in terms of measuring the effectiveness of their marketing strategy. It makes it difficult even to quantify fundamentals such as the lifetime value of a customer. With a cloud data warehouse, everyone is working with the same numbers — no competing or confusing narratives. The data is accurate and responsive and available to everyone who needs it.
Limitless possibilities for what you can do with your data
We’re already seeing an industry shift toward the centralised cloud data warehouse model. The next change we’ll see is a long-term series of epiphanies that answer the question: “OK, what can I do with the data now that it’s here?” Marketers and other business units will now have the ability to do all sorts of highly creative things that were much harder (if not impossible) in the past. Consider a smoothie company that, once it moved to a cloud data warehouse, realised there was a highly quantifiable relationship with sales and the temperature in a given hour of a given day — if it sent a campaign earlier in the day when temperatures were expected to be unseasonably warm, it generated more sales.
Think about any personalised email offer: It takes some companies the better part of a week to get that loaded into their email service provider because of all of the heavy lifting required on the back-end in terms of analysing and moving the necessary data. In the warehouse-first model, that can become a same-day process that is completed in under an hour. This makes you far more responsive and granular in your strategies.
Or consider the abandoned cart problem in this context. By cutting down a campaign lead time from, say, six hours to a matter of minutes, one organisation saw a 25% reduction in abandoned transactions. That’s like free money. And you can whittle down your campaign tactics to the individual or the item far more easily.
Best of all, this isn’t just a marketing win — even though it certainly is that. Again, anyone in the organisation that works with data stands to benefit. And your customers ultimately win most of all. They get more meaningful, rewarding experiences because you actually know them and what they want — not a dozen different, out-of-date versions of them — thanks to your cloud data warehouse.
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