How can Brands Turn Smart Tech Data into Usable Intelligence?

We are all becoming part of the smart technology matrix, one personal device at a time. By 2018, wearables are due to account for 50% of consumers’ mobile interactions, and over the next decade the personal tech industry is set to boom — reaching $80 billion by 2025.

For audiences, this means constant access to a network of content, products, and services that go wherever they do. But for marketers, it means access to tons of data.

The more consumers depend on digital gadgetry — from ubiquitous smartphones and wearables to emerging innovations like Augmented Reality (AR) and smart assistants — the more data brands can gather. As individuals become more wired to the Internet of Things (IoT), every purchase and interaction will generate real-time data that brands can use to understand who they are, how they behave, and what might interest them.

But with so much data to sift through, finding the right insights is becoming evermore challenging. So, what do you do when you have too much of a good thing?

The data conundrum: quantity versus quality

Marketers face two central issues when it comes to engaging connected consumers. Firstly, having built their own integrated world of devices where everything is linked and customized to their personal requirements, consumers expect brands to do the same. For example, serving retargeted ads to an individual’s mobile for an item they bought weeks ago via a tablet is now a tangible sign that the brand doesn’t know them — and if your ads don’t resonate on a personal level, it’s game over. Yet achieving omni-channel consistency is no easy feat. Data from different devices comes with unique identifiers that are difficult to join up dynamically and effectively, while ensuring any personally identifiable information (PII) is secured.

Secondly, the sheer volume of data produced by smart devices is making it increasingly hard for marketers to establish what consumers want in the moment, yet rising competition for audience attention makes doing so vital for brands to succeed. Marketers therefore need a better idea of which data points are required to inform decisions that align with business goals, and which smart tools are capable of turning disparate points into one multi-layered perspective.

A clear view of past and present consumer activity is essential to create a well-rounded profile that will inform how, where, and when brands can best engage with individuals. This is why marketers require fast access to accurate, in-depth insight about consumer activity across multiple channels and devices.

A clear view of past and present consumer activity is essential to create a well-rounded profile that will inform how, where, and when brands can best engage with individuals. This is why marketers require fast access to accurate, in-depth insight about consumer activity across multiple channels and devices.

So how to get usable intelligence?

In today’s increasingly connected world, there is an extraordinary amount of data available that can be used to link online and real-world activity. For example, non-personally identifiable data from consumer devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and even connected homes, can map out a consumer’s digital interactions with brands and enterprises. Actionable intelligence can be gathered by blending multiple data streams from a spectrum of devices to produce a contextually aware, detailed map of individual consumer journeys.

The most important factor, however, is that the data is available in real-time. For marketers, this means it can be used to boost conversions by instantly optimizing multiple activities, from smarter audience targeting and measurement to enhanced omni-channel communications.

As the need to quickly turn vast stores of consumer information into actionable insight has grown, so has technological capability. In the last few years the advent of data lakes and new platforms have made it easier for marketers to rapidly collate, amalgamate, interpret, and utilize data from myriads of sources. Yet no system is perfect and there are several considerations marketers should keep in mind:

1. Ensure ease of data access

To deliver personalized omni-channel customer experiences in real time, insights must be unified. This means marketers should be careful to select a tool that combines data produced by multiple functions — from internal customer relationship management (CRM) data to external behavioral insight — and makes it instantly accessible. Only then can they truly understand the connections between online and offline consumer activity, and tell a consistent, personal story over different channels that will retain individual interest. What’s more, consolidated data management will also provide the means to achieve precise omni-channel attribution that will enable brands to make more informed decisions about spend and business operations.

2. Keep a close watch on accuracy

Maintaining precision with real-time analysis is a hard task. With each consumer owning an array of smart devices, there are multiple data trails per person, as well as many sources of insight, which can cause discrepancies in identifying the user across devices and accurate targeting. And as the rising popularity of smart assistants and AR adds to the data swell, the margin for error is set to grow. To guard against this, it’s crucial for marketers to partner with platforms that take a thorough approach to source verification and cross-device comparison — constantly refreshing, assessing and merging data streams to minimize the risk of duplication or inaccuracy, while increasing the precision of user identification and in turn, targeting.

3. Embrace in-flight optimization

It sounds obvious, but the final element of using data intelligence well is to make the most of it in the moment. Thanks to advances in machine learning, it is now possible to immediately track the success of various marketing activities and make adjustments where necessary. So, if budgets are mostly devoted to desktop but target audiences respond best on mobile, they can be instantly reallocated. Or business strategies aimed at promoting particular products that create better results than anticipated can be dialed up to maximize conversions. Smart machines can even learn to spot patterns over time and thereby become an invaluable tool to ensure future targeting efforts hit the right mark.

The arrival of the connected smart tech world is both a challenge and an opportunity for marketers, giving them access to an excessive supply of coveted real-time data that is almost too much to handle. But success is simply a matter of adopting the right attitude, and the right tools.

By viewing the swelling volume of data produced by wearables, mobile devices, and smart home widgets as a window into consumers needs – and employing platforms that determine the best way through – marketers can use data to keep pace with the real-time future.

Also published in MarTech Advisor.