Is your marketing plan missing its mark? Leverage the insights of actionable data to meet your goals!

Tony Widdis
Client Partner
Tony manages and grows client partnerships and relationships across enterprise restaurant, retail and CPG brands.

Personalization is a core strategy for any retail marketer, but without the right foundation of insights, you’re unlikely to make an impact. Let’s explore what makes data actionable—and how you can make the jump from raw material to marketable material.

What is actionable data, exactly?

Actionable data is information that provides enough clarity and context to form the basis of a business decision. To understand the difference between raw and actionable data, it’s helpful to think about analytics across three categories: data, information and insights.

  • Data: raw, unstructured facts
  • Information: prepared, processed data that has been organized and has context
  • Insights: information that has been analyzed and taken to a reasonable conclusion

Data represents the “raw material” that, once processed, contextualized and analyzed, can give way to meaningful insights. Keep in mind that more data doesn’t automatically lead to more insights. What you want to do is go beyond answering “What happened?” and make your way to “Why did it happen?”

For example,“Revenue is down by 20%” is what happened. It’s not an actionable piece of data. But “30% of customers cited poor quality as a motivating factor for switching brands” is why it happened – giving you a solid foundation to meaningfully respond. 

Activate, personalize, target

No matter how much information you collect, data in its raw state won’t tell you what to do with it. You have to activate it to tease out meaningful insights that can inform your marketing plan. One important way to activate your data is to connect different sources of information to create a single or “360” view of your customers. That unified view then forms the basis for targeted engagement.

Why? Personalized touchpoints and offers make a big difference when converting and retaining customers.

The power of personalization

Personalized experiences are an even more crucial strategy now in the wake of pandemic shake-ups and ongoing inflation, because loyalty is more in-flux than ever. There’s also a gap in terms of how well marketers think they deliver targeted engagement and what customers are saying. According to Segment, 85% of companies feel they provide personalized experiences but only 60% percent of customers believe the same.

Make sure you have the right type & quantity of data 

Actionable data is all about creating a reliable foundation for decision making. In the case of targeting and personalization, you need to make decisions rooted in a solid understanding of who your customers are, where they are—and when. Reliability depends on collecting the right customer data at scale in order to truly understand your customer base. In order to gain a 360-view of customers, you need to pull together a variety of data sources, including: 

  • Transactional activity
  • Campaign response data
  • Demographics
  • Channel of origin
  • Socioeconomic data
  • Email data
  • And more 

Combining data from so many sources can be challenging, particularly if you don’t have a customer data platform (CDP) in place. These platforms can simplify the effort and allow you to work with all your customer data in one place. 

Also keep in mind that if there are holes in your data, your foundation won’t be solid. Many brick-and-mortar retailers, for example, struggle to identify in-store shoppers. Without this information, you don’t have a representative picture of your customer base. Leveraging point-of-sale (POS) transaction data combined with offline resolution capabilities can help resolve the “unknown problem” and get you back on track.

Once you’ve connected these data sources, you need to leverage them in a privacy-safe way to create unique customer profiles, from which you can derive actionable insights such as:

  • Actual purchases
  • Preferred items
  • Frequency
  • Price sensitivity
  • Promotional history
  • Daypart
  • Channel preferences 

From these profiles you can begin to make informed decisions about which offers and messages will be most relevant to different segments, and which channels to use to reach those segments. (Brick-and-mortar retailers can also use these insights to make strategic operational decisions like store placement, inventory planning, layout and more.)

Measure the difference targeted insights can make 

A large retail client with double-digit stores in the U.S. executed billions of daily in-store transactions, but could only identify a small fraction of the customers behind those purchases.

The retailer had invested in launching a loyalty program to better understand customer behavior and enhance engagement, but their identification rate wasn’t improving.

This is an example of how simply adding data points won’t necessarily lead to actionable insights. In this case, loyalty data wasn’t delivering a representative picture of the client’s customer base. The client needed to be able to identify and understand in-store shoppers in a scalable way so they could determine how to best engage them.

We helped them leverage their point-of-sale (POS) transaction data, along with our offline to online identity resolution capabilities, to increase the number of identified in-store shoppers. They could also identify transactions attributable to individual consumers. 

Thanks to the added insights, they increased their targetable individuals by 10x and matched transactions by 20x. They can now leverage privacy-safe, marketable customer profiles with item-level purchase history, demographic, socioeconomic and special interest attributes to drive personalized campaigns.

Explore the impact of actionable data

To learn more about how we help industries of all kinds identify, understand and engage unknown in-store customers, check out our case studies here.