In some ways, the growth of big data is leveling the playing field for marketers. Data-driven marketing allows small companies to get the same level of insight as their larger competitors. Marketers are beginning to connect the dots that really matter: They’re gaining insights into consumer behavior and attributes by using data onboarding to go beyond the often-fragmented views of data in a silo.

What does this enable advertisers to do? Imagine a small business owner in Portland looking at individual slices of knowledge about customers, connecting the data together like puzzle pieces, and adding online context – like demographic data and trends – to form profiles of those customers.

From there, the options are almost unlimited: targeting messages to specific audiences based on behavioral trends? Definitely. Building lookalike audiences to find new prospective customers? Absolutely. Enter: Data Onboarding

Data Onboarding (also referred to as Email or CRM Onboarding) is the simple-yet-powerful process of transferring offline customer data to the online world. It’s about connecting those data pieces together to provide marketers more accurate media targeting.

I’ll give you an overview of what data onboarding involves, and how it can help businesses in the real world.

The Birth of Customer Data

For small- and mid-size businesses in Oregon, it might seem unfeasible to gather large-scale data about customers the way major corporations do. But most companies have all the information they need already.

Data used for onboarding campaigns typically comes from CRM systems, point-of-sale databases, and email lists. However, it can also come from purchased prospect lists or even physical addresses and phone numbers.

With this sort of basic information, advertisers and digital agencies work in collaboration with a publisher DMP (data management platform). The DMP follows secure processes to layer premium first- and third-party data and audiences segments. Combining these segments with your existing data, into more robust profiles, they further enhance your consumer insights.

Working with a reputable DMP to connect private customer data with their online profiles requires a technical, secure process.

Exploring the Data Onboarding Process

Here’s a quick technical breakdown of the process of data onboarding:

  1. Uploading: Customer files are imported via a secure process.
  2. Anonymization: Customer records are anonymized and personally identifiable information is removed and not stored.
  3. Matching: Anonymized customer records are matched to online devices or digital IDs.
  4. Distribution: Data segments are activated for use in marketing applications and media platforms.

How does this look in the real world? A Portland hardware store wants to reach its best customers for an upcoming VIP Sales Event. They decide to bring in an ad-tech partner (like Oregonian Media Group) to help with a data onboarding solution. The store’s management knows that past behavior is a strong predictor of future behavior, so they provide the ad-tech partner with their CRM data on customers who have made three or more purchases over the past six months.

The transformation of the data begins by uploading the offline customer information, anonymizing it, and matching it to corresponding online profiles. This creates a 1:1 communication opportunity for the store with its carefully defined list of customers.

The hardware store then runs a rich media display advertisement and pre-roll video campaign directed at those valuable customers. This campaign reaches that defined list across devices, platforms and ad networks, promoting its upcoming VIP Sales Event. By reaching those repeat customers with a special offer, the hardware store drives incremental sales from its best customers.

Tactics like these are refined, effective and powerful. And now they’re within the reach of neighborhood shops, allowing them to more affordably run campaigns much the same way national brands do.

The Takeaway

Imagine taking your carefully crafted direct mail list of home addresses, or your email database, and being able to communicate with those same customers in online environments. Thanks to data onboarding, the use cases are limited only by your imagination.

In this data-enabled world, local Oregon businesses are now able to craft impressively intelligent campaigns like never before. Insights built from existing customer data can enable small and midsize businesses to be dazzlingly creative and efficient with their marketing and advertising initiatives.