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There are more ways than ever to collect information from consumers and reach out to them, including both online and offline touchpoints. While this presents a golden opportunity for businesses today, it also represents a pretty significant challenge. A survey by marketing firm Signal concluded that only a tiny fraction of companies have a single unified view of their customers, because all of this data is disorganized.

Here are just a few of the things that are made possible by a unified customer view across marketing channels:

• Understand customer behaviour across channels

• Improve ROI

• Engage customers across channels

• Retain customers and build loyalty

These are the benefits a unified view offers, but you face some challenges in getting there. The biggest obstacles to creating a single customer view are poor data quality, siloed departments, lack of relevant technology and an inability to link those different technologies.

Fortunately, if you want to move toward a unified cross-channel customer view, it can be within your grasp. First, create a roadmap by starting with the fundamentals: What are your customer experience goals and objectives? What are the tactics and analytics you’re going to need to execute the strategy?

Next, cross-reference your data sources and data points with the data requirements you outlined in the first step. The only way you can get closer to the unified customer view is to evaluate where you’re at right now. Once you’ve clarified your current situation compared to your goal, it’s time to start considering technology.

Unfortunately, there isn’t currently one particular off-the-shelf solution that can do everything you’d want for cross-channel marketing purposes. Your best bet is to research different technology options and develop a solution that’s based on multiple components. It may not integrate every possible data source simultaneously, but a complement of tools can work together to give you the big picture.

As you implement a better solution, track data volumes, sources, match rates, profile depth and other important metrics. As you monitor progress, keep in mind that this isn’t going to be a one-off project — you’ll have to keep working on a continual basis toward that ever-elusive single view of the customer!

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