This series of articles provides an overview of TAFI, an acronym that states an organization’s marketing data must be Trustworthy, Accessible, Fresh, and Integrated to be actionable. This is the fifth article in a series of five, and its focus is on Integrated marketing data. All four elements of TAFI are essential to an actionable marketing database, but the most important of the four, and often the most difficult to attain, is Integration.

In my previous articles, I discussed my career prior to Dovetail as Director of Operations for an environmental company that did work in the petroleum industry. That was over 15 years ago, but experience has taught me that in any industry at any time, data integration issues are generally large and have profound implications on an organization’s marketing success, or lack thereof.

When I started with my former company, it was a small start-up. Systems were established for sales, billing, and operations, but none of these were intended or built for marketing purposes. Several years into a fast growth curve, we tried to use these systems for marketing. The same customer would have a different customer ID in each of the three systems. We also had several secondary systems that had relevant data for marketing, but we had no idea how to associate the data to the proper individual to fully integrate our marketing data. Unfortunately, this probably sounds all too familiar to many of you.

Our business was performing leak detection on underground gasoline storage tanks. Like many companies, we wanted to upsell, acquire new customers, and anticipate and minimize churn. Our CEO and our Director of Marketing routinely discussed the rich data repositories we had at our fingertips to make these marketing endeavors succeed. I was the Operations Director, and along with my IT counterpart, got very nervous when we were asked to “just get our data from everywhere it exists and merge it together”, and market the right product to the right customer with the right offer at the right time. I couldn’t help thinking that within each of our systems there was a distinctly different representation of the same customer. Therefore, we could easily have at least three different records for the same person and we would be marketing to that same person three different times, possibly in three different, uncoordinated ways.

The theory of one integrated, cohesive view of each customer was appealing, and it seemed within our grasp. But this sharply contrasted with the reality that our data was in silos, fragmented, and disparate. Our data was not integrated, and we were at a loss for how to get there. As a database marketer, above all else, you need integrated marketing data and that includes all of your marketing data throughout your organization. Your marketing data must be cohesive, unified, and interconnected across all channels and touchpoints. An integrated marketing database is characterized by the following:

  • Your organization effectively uses all pertinent data sources for database marketing, including offline, online, and external data. This is in contrast to relying on only one primary data source as a substitute for a true marketing database.
  • You identify your consumer based on custom business rules that you establish, rolling up to unique individual, household, address, email, and phone number levels.
  • Your consumer transactional data is effectively aggregated across all touchpoints and channels.
  • Your customer and prospect data is seamlessly integrated and managed in your centralized marketing database.
  • Your organization effectively executes multi-channel marketing, flexibly using various channel combinations and cadence.
  • Your company’s suppression data for all channels is managed and pristine, in one place.
  • You have an existing infrastructure to add new sources of marketing data as your organization evolves and new data becomes available.
  • Your organization not only embraces the principle of a 360-degree view of the customer, but you have actually achieved it.

With the proper marketing database solution, all of your integrated marketing data is interconnected and located on one marketing database system. Integrated data is essential to your database marketing efforts and ensures your marketing data is ready to act upon. Integrated is the fourth and final component of TAFI, and one of four key traits to attain and maintain actionable marketing data.

The next article in this series is Start 2015 with TAFI.