Achieving the single customer view in order to personalise communications is one of the most sought after marketing goals, yet it’s also something that’s been unattainable for almost every organisation. Various estimates place the number of companies with a single customer view anywhere from 10-20% of all businesses. The problem for marketers is that the experiences they’re delivering via digital marketing suffer from a combination of poor data management and individual, compartmentalised communications.

In short, there are some real hurdles preventing companies from moving beyond standard views of the customer and what their journey should be to delivering experiences driven by a single customer view.  How should companies overcome some of the challenges? Here are 5 steps to achieving a single customer view:

1. Develop a marketing strategy for using a Single Customer View

Too often, marketing teams have a desire for a single customer view without really understanding how their inbound and outbound marketing efforts must change as well.  While many are right in stressing the ‘science’ of marketing through better data, the ‘art’ of marketing cannot be ignored.  Make sure you instil discipline within your teams so you don’t damage the quality of the data by increasing attrition through poor marketing.

2. Identify the data sources that are currently tracking your customer data

One of the most difficult tasks is figuring out where all the customer touch points are located for your business.  Engage with cross-functional teams so that you can build a Single Customer View that is truly representative of a consumer engaging with your brand.  This means data must come from non-marketing systems so that all stages of the customer journey are optimised and the transition from each stage is seamless.

3. Pick the right technology for your business to build and maintain the Single Customer View

Based on the failure of so many companies to implement a Single Customer View, one of the critical initial goals must be to show quick value to the organisation.  Therefore, the technology you choose should allow for easy integration of different data sources and an open architecture.  Usability should be a top concern.  Marketers should stay away from heavy hardware outlays as this increases total cost of ownership versus non-hardware solutions utilising the latest data storage and processing technology.

4. Train the marketing team to be self-sufficient

If your marketing team is going to be the primary beneficiary of the Single Customer View then they must be trained on how to get their own insights out of the database.  The closer marketing is to the data, the higher performing the campaigns will be. The interpretation and application of data insights will be faster and more accurate versus an IT analyst separated from the business objectives.  The company will be far more efficient with marketers who can self-serve.

5. Share the Single Customer View across the entire technology ecosystem

Even if marketing is going to be the primary beneficiary of the Single Customer View, your customers expect consistent, compelling experiences at all touch points, especially if marketing isn’t involved.  Leading organisations leverage the Single Customer View across all technology applications so all touch points are all using the latest information and the total experience is seamless.  Further, as the Single Customer View becomes ‘stickier’ in an organization, the better its long-term life value and usability to an organization.

As the digital world continues to explode and evolve, the bottom line is clear: a Single Customer View is critical to delivering exceptional personal experiences. Today’s technology allows for easy linking of disparate data sources, but marketers must be careful to develop a clear business strategy and integration plan.  Marketers must also look beyond their own efforts and ensure that all touch points and business areas are included in the Single Customer View to truly deliver compelling, relevant experiences.

Paige O'Neill

Paige O'Neill


Paige O’Neill is Chief Marketing Officer of SDL.