As a business owner or marketer, you know the importance of data in driving decisions and improving outcomes. However, gathering and organizing data can be a daunting task, especially when it comes from different sources and in varying formats. This is where data onboarding comes in. In this beginner’s guide, I’ll explain what data onboarding is, why it’s important for businesses, the data onboarding process, key players in the industry, best practices, challenges, tools and platforms, and success stories. Let’s get started!
Introduction to Data Onboarding
Data onboarding is the process of importing offline and online customer data from various sources into a centralized platform for analysis and activation. This platform can be a customer data platform (CDP), a data management platform (DMP), or a marketing automation tool. The purpose of data onboarding is to create a unified view of the customer that can be used for targeting, personalization, and measurement across marketing channels.
Data onboarding involves matching offline identifiers (such as email addresses, postal addresses, and phone numbers) with online identifiers (such as cookies, mobile device IDs, and IP addresses) to create a single customer profile. This process enables businesses to connect the dots between different touchpoints and interactions with the customer, thereby improving the accuracy and relevance of marketing campaigns.
Why Data Onboarding is Important for Businesses
Data onboarding of all sorts, such as enterprise office 365 onboarding, has become increasingly important for businesses due to the proliferation of data sources and channels. With the rise of social media, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT), customers are interacting with brands across multiple touchpoints and generating massive amounts of data. However, this data is often siloed in different systems and formats, making it difficult for businesses to gain a holistic view of the customer.
By onboarding data, businesses can bridge the gap between online and offline data sources, enabling them to target customers more effectively and with greater relevance. This, in turn, can lead to increased customer engagement, loyalty, and revenue. Additionally, data onboarding enables businesses to comply with data privacy regulations by providing a single source of truth for customer data.
Data Onboarding Process Explained
The data onboarding process typically involves the following steps:
- Data Collection: Collect data from various sources such as CRM systems, point of sale (POS) systems, social media platforms, mobile apps, and website analytics tools.
- Data Preparation: Preparing the data for onboarding by standardizing formats, removing duplicates, and matching offline and online identifiers.
- Data Onboarding: Uploading the data to a centralized platform for matching and cleansing. This involves using algorithms and probabilistic modeling to match offline and online identifiers.
- Data Enrichment: Enhancing the data with additional attributes such as demographics, behaviors, and preferences. This can be done using third-party data providers or by appending data from internal sources.
- Data Activation: Activating the data for marketing campaigns across channels such as email, social media, display advertising and mobile messaging. This involves creating segments and audiences based on the data and using them to personalize content and messaging.
Key Players in the Data Onboarding Industry
The data onboarding industry is made up of various players, each offering different solutions and services. Here are some of the key players in the industry:
- Data Management Platforms (DMPs): DMPs are software platforms that enable businesses to collect, store, and analyze data from various sources. They are typically used by marketers to create a unified view of the customer for targeting and personalization purposes.
- Customer Data Platforms (CDPs): CDPs are similar to DMPs but focus specifically on customer data. They enable businesses to create a single, persistent customer profile that can be used across channels and touchpoints.
- Identity Resolution Providers: These providers specialize in matching offline and online identifiers to create a single customer view. They use deterministic and probabilistic methods to achieve this.
- Data Onboarding Services: These services provide end-to-end solutions for data onboarding, including data preparation, matching, cleansing, and activation.
Best Practices for Data Onboarding
To ensure successful data onboarding, businesses should follow these best practices:
- Start with a clear objective: Define your goals for data onboarding and ensure that they align with your overall business objectives.
- Map your data sources: Identify all the data sources that you want to onboard and ensure that they are compatible with your chosen platform.
- Standardize your data: Ensure that your data is standardized and cleansed before onboarding to avoid errors and duplicates.
- Match offline and online identifiers: Use deterministic and probabilistic methods to match offline and online identifiers to create a single customer view.
- Enrich your data: Enhance your data with additional attributes such as demographics, behaviors, and preferences to create a more complete customer profile.
- Activate your data: Use your onboarded data to personalize content and messaging across channels for maximum impact.
Common Challenges Associated with Data Onboarding
Despite its benefits, data onboarding can be challenging for businesses. Here are some of the common challenges associated with data onboarding:
- Data quality: Poor data quality can lead to errors and duplicates, making it difficult to create an accurate customer profile.
- Data privacy: Compliance with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA can be complex and time-consuming.
- Data silos: Data silos can prevent businesses from gaining a complete view of the customer, leading to suboptimal targeting and personalization.
- Technical complexity: The technical complexity of data onboarding can be a barrier for businesses with limited IT resources.
- Cost: The cost of data onboarding can be prohibitive for small and medium-sized businesses.
Data Onboarding vs. Data Integration
Data onboarding is often confused with data integration, but they are not the same thing. Data integration involves combining data from different sources into a single system or application, whereas data onboarding involves importing data from external sources into a centralized platform for analysis and activation.
Data integration is typically used for internal purposes such as business intelligence and reporting, whereas data onboarding is used for external purposes such as marketing and customer engagement. Both data integration and data onboarding are important for businesses, but they serve different purposes.
Data Onboarding Success Stories
Data onboarding has been proven to deliver significant benefits for businesses. Here are some examples of data onboarding success stories:
- Airbnb: Airbnb used data onboarding to improve its email marketing campaigns. By onboarding its customer data, Airbnb was able to create more targeted and personalized emails that led to a 30% increase in bookings.
- Zulily: Zulily used data onboarding to improve its customer retention rates. By onboarding its customer data, Zulily was able to create more personalized and relevant content that led to a 16% increase in repeat purchases.
- American Express: American Express used data onboarding to improve its customer acquisition rates. By onboarding its customer data, American Express was able to create more targeted and personalized advertising campaigns that led to a 30% increase in new card members.
Conclusion: The Future of Data Onboarding
Data onboarding is becoming increasingly important for businesses as they seek to gain a holistic view of the customer and improve their marketing outcomes. While there are challenges associated with data onboarding, the benefits are clear. By following best practices and using the right tools and platforms, businesses can unlock the power of data onboarding and drive success in their marketing efforts.
As the amount of data generated by customers continues to grow, the future of data onboarding looks bright. Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning are making it easier to match and enrich data, while the proliferation of connected devices is creating new opportunities for data onboarding. It’s an exciting time to be in the data onboarding industry, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.