How Consumer Data Can Create a Connected Customer Experience


Every day, about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created globally. That’s a colossal volume of information, across an incredible number of sources, and this is only set to escalate with the advance of technology (such as the Internet of Things).

With the right customer data strategy, organisations that leverage their growing data assets, enhancing their first-party data by forming second-party data partnerships, or driving value through leveraging third-party data partnerships, will be those able to utilise data to create exceptional customer experiences and succeed in the new data economy.

Yet that can be easier said than done. Never have marketers had access to the monumental volume and variety of data assets available today. However, marketers looking to deliver exceptional experiences need exceptional insights and data. Now, to engage the right customers through the right channels, with the right messaging, at the right time, marketers must be able to expand, enhance and take action based on their customer data to build more relevant, personalised and engaging campaigns.

That may sound complex. But with the right second-party (and crucially) third-party data partnerships and processes to enhance data and deliver exceptional insights, it’s possible to truly know and understand audience needs, wants and preferences.

This means that those marketers who prioritise their customer data strategy will not only be able to leverage data to understand their audiences, build digital and offline lists, isolate contact touch point data, append insights to known or anonymous audiences and more – but they will be best placed to enable truly personalised, engaging experiences anywhere.



Defining Different Types of Consumer Data

  • First-party: This is a brand’s own proprietary data, from where customers have interacted with the brand either in person or online; such on the brand website or a mobile app. This data is usually transactional or customer service-related.
  • Second-party: Purchased in partnership with a relevant second party, this data is another organisation’s first-party data. Such an exchange can add depth and insight to your first-party data.
  • Third-party: Third-party data, as the name implies, is consumer data that a marketer acquires from a range of third party sources. Typically used to help create consumer segments for targeting ads and marketing messages, third-party data often refers to information gathered from internet interactions. In some cases third-party insight may also be licensed via a third-party data provider.


2 / Improving the Quality of Your Customer Data

As marketers, we know we can we create truly exceptional, personalised customer experiences when we leverage the right customer data.

With the right insight in place, we can build a complete, real-time, single customer view (SCV) across channels. Crucially, with high-quality, real-time customer data, we’re able to understand and recognise who a consumer is, their preferences, their relevance to an organisation, their interests and more. That data can enable us to tailor everything from timely communications, to great-fit offers, and deliver incredible, personalised customer experiences!

The Customer Data Challenge

This may sound straightforward, yet challenges still stand in the way of many marketers. Though we have access to more data than ever, today, data-driven marketers must consider how to overcome challenges such as:

  • Having poor-quality, outdated or siloed data
  • Lacking data availability and granularity
  • Addressing varying legal requirements and the cultural acceptance of data-driven marketing
  • Lacking identity resolution technology and having fragmented data activation

Simply having some customer data isn’t enough to deliver effective, personalised campaigns. Your data must be accessible, un-siloed, and high-quality for it to be of value.

Improving the Quality of Your Customer Data

Faced with poor quality and siloed data, how can a brand proactively maintain quality data, especially when there are ever increasing volumes of it?

It’s important to take a considered approach to customer data, addressing the four C’s of data quality: – Correct, Current, Complete, and ethically Collected.

  • Do You Have the Correct Data? Data normalisation is the first step here to ensure you have current, correct customer data. First, that means ensuring all of your existing data is held in a consistent way, such as all phone numbers being presented in the same format with the correct number of digits. Second, it’s important to check that all of that data really is as correct as possible. Life events such as new phone numbers, marriage, moving and more can make consumer data outdated. Are you sure the Steve Jones you have on record still has the same address?
  • Do You Have Complete Data? Once your data has been normalised and you know it’s correct, it’s time to identify and fill in the gaps. Are you missing digits from phone numbers? Does each consumer’s postcode match the area code and town listed?
  • Do You Have Current Data? You may have a complete database, but is all of the data up-to-date and accurate? How many of your customers have moved? Do you have their correct addresses? Do you know which customers have changed their names, or marital status? Updating this information is crucial – not only to enable the best, current and personalised experience – but to avoid errors, such as sending multiple copies of the same marketing materials to the same person or to multiple people in a household.

Not sure if Miss Mandy Smith from Newcastle is the same person as Mrs. Mandy Jones in Cardiff? Identity resolution solutions can help combine identifying data points across multiple touch points and devices to enable a seamless, omnichannel view of consumers.

  • Do You Have An Ethical Approach to Data Collection? Legally and morally, we all have a responsibility to maintain an ethical approach to collecting and managing data. High-quality customer relationships are based on trust – your customers must trust you as a brand to go above and beyond what’s legally required to ensure their data is kept safe and used fairly.

A customer data identity management approach can help resolve any issues with the   4 C’s around format, recognition, integration and consistency across all sources of customer data

3 / Using Third-Party Data for Better Audience Engagement

In an April 2018 survey of 500 UK and US marketing executives, 38% noted that a barrier to improving their ROI with marketing technology investments is the ability to integrate with the right customer and third-party data. Clearly, taking a considered approach to third-party data can bring substantial marketing benefits to an organisation.

As the DMA highlights:

“Organisations could choose not to use third party data. But this is to ignore the significant opportunities that compliant, robust and high quality third party data offers brands and organisations prepared to deploy it correctly and compliantly.”

Clearly, third-party data is a key tool for data-driven marketers. And while 70% of companies use their proprietary data; only 42% and 37% currently use 2nd and 3rd party data – even though 79% agree that data is the most important factor in delivering a positive customer experience. In fact, a further 49% of marketers expect to increase their use of 2nd and 3rd party data in the next 12 months.

Brands must ensure that third-party activities are conducted accordingly with regulations such as GDPR; in conjunction with a brand’s first party data, third-party data is critical to help marketers better understand and target their customers, as well as identify other similar consumers and lookalikes.

Indeed, as CMOs seem to be ‘playing it safe’ (as of 2018); focusing budgets on existing customers and outspending customer acquisition by a ratio of 2-to-1 – it’s more crucial than ever to make best use of the enhancement abilities offered by third-party data, to ensure existing customer accuracy as well as in new audience modelling and targeting.

How Can Third-Party Data Improve Audience Engagement?

With the right third-party data provider supporting your first-party customer data, it’s possible to build a much more valuable database, enabling a clear customer view across increasing volumes of data and ever-fragmented touch points.

By leveraging third-party data, marketers are able to vastly expand their marketing strategy approaches – supplementing (fast-growing) first-party data with quality third-party data opens the doors to:

  • Insights & Analytics
  • Retention & Extension
  • Persona Creation
  • Real-time Personalisation
  • Predictive Modeling
  • Increased Marketing Efficiency

This access to greater audience segmentation, lookalike modelling, personalisation and more can pave the way to greater audience engagement; we can utilise third-party data to enhance existing data and build more engaging audience experiences, using data to:


Do you have a connected device with you most places you go? From smartphones to tablets, location data is an increasingly valuable and growing asset. Because of this, best-in-class third-party data providers will partner with location data providers to provide comprehensive, actionable audience insights. Here, it’s possible to use third-party data to geo-target specific audiences for the precise delivery of a message, which in turn can increase site and foot traffic, improve the customer experience – and also the cost-effectiveness of campaigns.

One way marketers can leverage third-party data is to use it to enhance geo-targeting, using digital data enhancement to append audience data to a single anonymous identifier. This enables a range of targeting advantages. For example, you could target audience segments that have visited your store within the past 30 days. Or, leveraged with third-party insights, you could message all relevant consumers within a specific radius of a branch. Or similarly, you could direct consumers who are too far away from a branch toward your e-commerce site


Customisation is the key to creating unique, personalised marketing. This is increasingly true across all marketing approaches. With a need to engage the right customers with the right messages at different stages of the funnel, one advantage of combining first-party and third-party data is to create tailor-made audience segments.

Doing so can enable marketers to create one-of-a-kind audiences, tailored to a specific need – as well as discover customers who look like existing best-fit customers.

Specific segments that can be achieved will, of course, vary from brand to brand, but by investing in customised audience segments, an organisation can engage at the optimal time in the buyer’s journey with the right message, delivered in the right places.


From creating tailor-made audience segments, to enabling precision targeting – with the right data, marketers can transform audience insight into value. By leveraging third-party data (and adopting second-party data sharing arrangements to enhance data), it’s possible to identify and connect with audiences everywhere – segmenting across thousands of global audience attributes for distribution across platforms, publishers and offline.


Though managing the sheer volume of customer data available is a challenge for marketers today, with the right processes to make it correct, actionable and unified as a single data layer, it’s possible to find your most valuable audiences, unlock clarity and sophistication and deliver truly engaging, consistent relevant marketing for  consumers across all channels.

Third-party data enhancement is a core part of that process, and as marketing approaches and technologies evolve, we have more ways than ever to deploy third-party data support as a means to ensure compelling marketing, maximum impact and improved brand interaction.

Learn more about how to gain audience insights with third-party data services from Acxiom.

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  • 3 Acxiom & Savanta proprietary research 2018
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4 / Building Relevant Audiences With Data

With correct, high-quality customer data, enhanced by third-party data, marketers have the insights they need to deliver impactful, personalised marketing.

Yet there remains opportunity to advance campaigns even further. We live in a global, seemingly borderless digital world. Global brands naturally want to take advantage of this connected environment to deliver great customer experiences in key markets. And with the right data support, it’s possible to do so.

After all, you already have a good idea as to what the people who invest in your products and solutions like; you know their challenges, behaviours and more. So why not work on your digital audience strategy – and employ third-party data to find and build additional relevant audiences, for greater personalisation, targeting and engagement?

With the audience insight third-party data can provide, it’s possible to better know – and anticipate – your customers’ demographics and buying behaviours, conduct market analysis, plan customer acquisition strategies and create cross-sell/upsell and retention campaigns that are truly targeted, personalised and powerful. And that means you’ll always reach, resonate and serve the best messaging to the right audience.

There are a number of ways organisations can evolve their customer data strategy to find and engage wider, similar audiences. Across industries, marketers can use global third-party consumer data to:

  • Target relevant, global digital audiences: By leveraging audience curation and distribution capabilities, you can drive digital marketing across global publishers and platforms.
  • Identify, target, acquire and build new target audiences: It’s possible to use third-party consumer data to identify, enhance and build relevant new segments and audiences and then reach them via people-based marketing campaigns across online and digital channels
  • Gain deeper audience insights by enhancing customer data: By matching and appending global consumer data to first-party consumer data, it’s possible to drive better insights for personalisation, modelling and targeting.

And the result of this data enhancement? A far superior understanding of existing and new audiences and a clear view of their needs and drivers; that can enable relevant engagement across online and offline channels to drive long-term loyalty and value.

Achieving these audience advantages requires considered navigation of the global data and privacy landscape. As a result, it’s wise to partner with a trusted data provider that can offer a comprehensive set of capabilities such as audience data, segmentation and targeting, identity resolution – and, of course, can help you navigate privacy and compliance requirements.

5 / Creating an Omnichannel Customer Experience

What’s the goal of enhancing customer data?

As marketers, of course we want to have the best-quality, up-to-date consumer insights to build a data-driven customer experience. We want to ensure we have the right, enhanced data to understand our audiences and reach the right people, with the right messaging at the right times – via the right online and offline channels.

Then we can create that seamless, personalised, omnichannel experience today’s customers expect, everywhere they go.

Without accurate customer data, fragmented customer experiences are all too common; it’s hard to recognise that James in Haywards Heath – who looked at your website yesterday – is the same James who just made a purchase in your highstreet store and who signed up to receive your emails a year ago. And if you can’t connect the dots to recognise a customer across all touch points, you’ll deliver disjointed, underwhelming, and possibly irrelevant interactions.

But marketers who adopt a considered approach to data and customer experience – making the most of the opportunities that third-party enhancement and insight can bring to campaigns – can unlock its full potential, creating an impressive competitive advantage and building strong trust and loyalty with their customers.

Able to make each interaction useful and relevant, the best data-driven marketers can create seamless experiences designed to strengthen customer relationships across every channel. They can understand their customers better, find the best moments to engage, and ensure that every pound they spend delivers a bigger return.

To truly make the most of consumer data and create an omnichannel approach:

  • Enable people-based marketing everywhere. Utilise identity resolution to recognise your customers across every channel. Market to real people – not devices – by resolving identity online and offline for unified messaging and seamless experiences.
  • Build insight with first-, second- and third-party data. Partner with high-quality data providers and third parties that can complete and enhance your existing customer data for truer customer clarity.
  • Use third-party data to build more relevant audiences. Once you enhance your data, use it to enhance your segments, build more relevant audiences and deliver a highly tailored, personalised customer experience across channels and devices. Third-party data solutions offer a wide range of enhancements – such as insight into audience demographics, habits, interests and more, geospatial insights for greater location targeting, or touch point data – enabling you to build an omnichannel engagement via the right channels for your audience.

Ultimately, by working to enhance your consumer data with second-, and particularly third-party data, it’s possible to transform customer data into marketing insight, enabling incredible potential for campaign enhancement.

After all, with the right data, it’s possible to increase the accuracy and predictive power of your marketing and improve response rates and engagement, while reducing marketing costs and minimising wasted resources – a data-driven marketer’s dream!

6 / GDPR

Considering Data Use in Light of GDPR

The world of data is growing and changing fast and understanding how to use consumer data is critical to business performance and growth. In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in 2018 and is likely to be followed by the e-Privacy Regulation; focused on protecting consumers from illegal, unethical and irresponsible use of their personal data.

These new regulations will force organisations to review and change how they collect, store and utilise customer data putting more emphasis on ethical practice and consumer rights.

For some marketers, considering GDPR can seem overwhelming. Indeed, a June 2018 survey of 255 marketers worldwide by Demandbase and Demand Metric found that four in five respondents were concerned their tech vendors could put them at risk of violating the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

However, as the DMA states:

“There is nothing in the GDPR that prohibits the use of third party data, provided that it is undertaken in accordance with the data protection principles and regulatory guidance.”


“Assuming that transparency, control, and other safeguards are in place and that all organisations have an appropriate lawful ground for processing personal data throughout the consumer data journey (which, by and large for marketing purposes, will be based on either consent or legitimate interest), then the kinds of third party data offered by reputable marketing services organisations can play a vital role in the marketing activities of many brands and organisations.”

Selecting an expert data partner, such as Acxiom, can help marketers to understand and navigate new regulations to provide the best privacy and data governance for the connected marketing ecosystem.

Steps to Consider to Ensure GDPR Compliant Consumer Data Use

At a top level, GDPR compliance requires marketers to take a transparent, considered approach to consumer data, based on consent or legitimate interest. With this best practice in mind, and a focus on driving relevancy, value and impressive experiences, both marketers and consumers can benefit from data.

But what else can teams do to ensure best practice use across the board, post GDPR?

  • Put customers first. Consumer interests and customer value must always shape how marketers collect, use and protect data, to ensure trust, transparency and compliance.
  • Communicate value. Keep data balanced across the business, not only in marketing; and oriented toward driving consumer value. Demonstrate and explain the value return that consumers will achieve from a data exchange!
  • Build trust through transparency. Be open in your explanations. Data used for marketing is very different to personal data being used for other reasons – and those doing the right thing have nothing to hide. Transparency not only ensures compliance, but creates stronger, clearer customer relationships. 
  • Ensure responsible, balanced use of data. Ensure your organisation has a clear policy around data ethics, privacy and ensures balanced data use across all instances, to set the tone for trust. Keep in mind that GDPR requires data protection impact assessments to ensure the correct safeguards and balance is in place.
  • Prioritise data protection. Whether alone or with a data partner, put in place a set of accountability measures to ensure secure, responsible data handling; the absolute key to being able to demonstrate compliance and trust.
  • Remove data silos. With consumer data increasingly fragmented across channels and platforms, creating a unified data layer and removing siloes, is the best way to connect the data, ensure data accuracy and hygiene. Not only does this enable greater personalisation for seamless customer experiences – it’s a ticket to certain compliance and clarity.

Strengthen your privacy program now. Just as the world of data-driven marketing has seen rapid change in the past decade, the world of privacy is no different. Considerations such as GDPR and Brexit mean having a compliant approach to consumer data and privacy is a critical, strategic preparation – not an optional one.

Stay GDPR Compliant with Help From An Expert Data Partner

As the marketers responsible for customer data assess, rethink and change how their organisations host, manage and use data; remaining compliant in the face of change can be a daunting prospect.

Here, it’s important to seek external expertise and advice when necessary, and understand the assistance and competitive advantage that a data partnership can provide. 

From providing clarity over governance and legislation, to ensuring your consumer data processes and technologies are compliant, secure and futureproofed – a data partner such as Acxiom can ensure your organisation executes ethical, legal and responsible compliance in your customer data use.

And as a result, unlock accurate insight and targeting for seamless, valuable and trusted customer engagement.

Leading Data Privacy Experts in Marketing and Advertising

Acxiom’s Global Data Ethics & Privacy Program makes the creative and innovative use of data for marketing and advertising sustainable. By fostering, promoting and enabling an ethical and responsible data-use culture, Acxiom helps brands use data to know their customers and make marketing relevant.

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