The digital landscape is broadening and evolving each day and week, and leading brands are enjoying success as a result of delivering a joined up, consistent, multichannel experience. Failure to at least keep pace will leave any brand lagging behind its competition and missing out on great opportunities for engagement, according to Andy Walker, UK managing director for Innometrics. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Many of the challenges brands face around multichannel engagement are not content-based, but rather stem from their customer data being held in disparate silos. Most brands focus on the content - the messaging - which inevitably results in a preference for broadcast marketing. Creating actionable customer profiles allows brands to break down their data silos, focus on the evolving data streams and move from broadcasting to predicting, all in real time.

Get the data right and it's incredible how much time and effort can be better spent on creating truly engaging, multichannel marketing campaigns.

Problems caused by disjointed & incomplete customer data
The most obvious consequence of disjointed customer data is the risk of mixed messaging. The increasing number of devices and channels present an opportunity - and obligation - for brands to tailor the format of communication - for instance, a 140-character 'tweet' should convey the same message but its format will naturally be different to an email, or further still, a blog. Despite this, the data used to deliver messaging and communication should be consistent across all channels.

Mixed messaging impacts the overall brand experience - inconsistency dilutes the intended message and can lead to confusion around the brand, making it look schizophrenic.

Depending on the level of disjointedness, the state of a brand's customer data may actually hinder and prevent brands from personalising their marketing, leaving marketers with little choice but to adopt a broadcast-style approach to customer communication, and fading into the background as a result.

Incomplete customer data is also a missed opportunity. According to a recent study by Webloyalty, over 40% of retail customers cross four or more channels throughout their 'purchase pathway'. Any brand that is ever-present throughout that process is more likely to be at the forefront of the customer's mind at the key decision point. Conversely, incomplete data may mean that the brand misses key engagement opportunities along the way, and loses out as a result.

How Profile Cloud helps to complete and integrate company data
Profile Cloud creates a profile for each and every customer and prospect, right from the first engagement (such as a website visit). Most profiles start off as anonymous to capture the full user journey from the first touch point. Profiles are then enriched over time as the visitor interacts more and more frequently and intensively.

Each profile also includes multiple IDs based on each data source, making it easier to integrate across multiple sources and maintain consistency. Walker recommends that brands start by reviewing their online data. And once the Profile Cloud code is on the website, it can start to create profiles based on website or app based behaviour. Following the initial integration of online data, it then brings in offline data such as CRM and legacy database systems which enriches behavioural profiles with demographic information, so brands can start to build a more detailed picture of every customer and prospect - all in real time.

Finally, Innometrics looks at third party data - e.g. an email service provider or an SMS platform. From here, brands can create segments and events which can then be shared with third party platforms to deliver more personalised messages and experiences.

Examples of the improved ROI
"We have seen unprecedented results across our customer base of brands boosting conversions simply by integrating and using data that already exists. For instance, Dansk Supermarked tripled the conversion rate of its online advertising, simply by connecting browsing data to email and delivering personalised, relevant retargeting emails," explained Walker.

For another example, 3 Mobile increased conversions by 20% simply by personalising web pages according to web analytics and CRM data. They also analysed exit behaviour to identify drop-off points, then triggered pop-ups at those points to help reduce abandoned shopping baskets. All of this data existed prior to implementing Profile Cloud, but 3 Mobile are now able to pull it all together in real time.