Single Customer View (SCV): What is it and How Does it Work?

Published: December 14, 2017 Updated: November 13, 2018 Author Category Analytics, Personalization

If modern marketing was a car, data would be its fuel. With consumers generating huge amounts of data every day, marketers have a lot of information they can use to grasp their needs and interests. However, not every piece of data is created equal. And when it comes to personalizing the user experience and making informed marketing decisions, there’s no better source of information than single customer view.

Not sure what it means and how you could apply it to your own marketing strategy? Then you should definitely read this blog post.

What is single customer view?

A single customer view (some people refer to it as ‘360’ or ‘unified’ customer view) is a method for gathering all the data about your customers and merging it into a single record.

By consolidating every piece of information about your users in one centralized location, you get a powerful overview of every action performed by your customers – on their mobiles, on your website, or even in your offline store (of course, that depends on what types of data you gather to create the SCV).

As described by Experian, “An SCV is an aggregated, consistent and holistic representation of the data known by an organisation about its customers”.

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What types of data does it use?

As we said before, an SCV is created by consolidating various pieces of information about your customers from multiple sources. In many cases, those sources can be scattered throughout the whole organisation and in tools used by many different departments – not just marketing, but also sales, service & product design, and more.

Data about customers may include:

Web, mobile and behavioral data: I.e. on categories and products browsed, products added to basket, products abandoned. It’s the kind of data gathered by your analytics tools.

CRM & offline data sources: I.e. postal address information, telephone information, email address information, social network information, permission and suppression data.

Transactional systems: I.e. on: number of products purchased (both online and offline), order/subscription value, order/renewal dates, product abandonments (abandoned baskets), product returns, etc.

And after 25 May 2018 also:
GDPR consents data: the list of consents for data processing provided by your users. This is especially important, because under GDPR consents can be narrowed down to only some of kinds of data processing – e.g. excluding its use in data personalization and sharing it with a third-party.

What’s important is the fact that an SCV is mostly composed of data that meets the definition of first-party data: the information that a brand or company collects itself and owns. It’s much more valuable than third-party data, because it’s not stripped of personal identifiers and comes from your real customers, not anonymous internet users with no real connection to your brand.

If you want to dig deeper into the benefits (and risks!) involved in dealing with first-party data, we advise you to visit this blog post: Why First-Party Data is the Most Valuable to Marketers

Data contained in single customer profiles can be used in many ways depending on your organizational needs and the marketing channels you’re using. However, there are some applications of this method that tend to hog the spotlight:

  • Cross & upsell campaigns
  • Content personalization
  • Facebook and Adwords ads
  • Email & CRM
  • Exporting audiences to other tools

What are the main benefits coming from applying a single customer view strategy?

By now, you probably know what single customer profile is and which types of data it’s made of. But you might not be sure exactly how this will help your business. That’s why we’ve summarised the most important benefits that come from incorporating SCV into your marketing strategy:

1) Cross-channel marketing data, at last!

In today’s world, data is everywhere. The main challenge is to properly collect all that data, and – more importantly – to connect data points from multiple sources.

According to The Aberdeen Group: “Companies with extremely strong cross channel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak cross channel customer engagement”.

Customers now have the luxury of jumping from smartphone to desktop to tablet and back again, which can make marketing attribution a real headache. However, with diverse data about your real customers at your fingertips, you’re now able to recreate their whole customer journey, regardless of how many devices or marketing channels they’ve used to get in contact with your brand.

It means that you’ll be able to stop using old and ineffective conversion attribution models relying on the last or the first clicks. Instead, you’ll take advantage of models that help you assign the right amount of credits to each channel – like multi-device attribution and multi-channel attribution. So you’ll see which devices and marketing channels contribute the most to finalizing transactions.

Not sure what we’re on about? Then you should definitely get familiar with those two blog posts:
How to leverage conversion attribution in Piwik PRO for better business insights
Raw Data Access – Using Piwik PRO for Advanced Attribution Modeling

2) No more siloed or duplicated data!

In 2016, Econsultancy and Adobe conducted a global survey which discovered that only 5 percent of marketers and ecommerce professionals use a single platform to manage data across multiple channels. It means that chances are high your company belongs to the other 95 percent.

This has many implications. Firstly, your data is stored in separate locations spread across the whole organization. This makes it almost impossible to share it between teams, not to mention using it to improve the customer experience. And secondly, there’s a lot of duplicate data in your systems.

That may not sound dangerous. However, this can lead to many mistakes that your customers might not forgive. For instance, you might send multiple copies of the same marketing piece, or even present your customers with conflicting offers. Or maybe you’re wasting your marketing budget on advertising a product to users who have already bought it.

In each of these scenarios, you fall short in trying to provide a personalized customer experience to your users. Fortunately, with single customer profile at your service, this will never happen (again).

3) More informed marketing decisions

With a more holistic overview of your customers’ behavior, you’ll stop making marketing decisions based on pure assumptions, however convincing they may be. Instead, you obtain an individualized view to better identify your most valuable customers. This lets you develop and deliver cross-sell and upsell opportunities more easily, and increase customer retention.

Thanks to detailed information about your customers’ habits, their clicking behavior, purchasing history and lifestyle preferences, you can clearly see when, where and why they engage. This allows you to communicate with them at relevant points in the buying process and improve your conversion rate. What’s more, this data can be further used to predict future demand and to tailor marketing materials addressing those needs.

Detailed segments

Detailed information about your customers equals more information to use when crafting customer segments. It lets you segment your customers based on relevant attributes and behaviours, which provides better insights and helps you target them with the right messages. With access to single customer profile you can create user segments based on factors like:

  • customer lifecycle stages,
  • their exact location,
  • their purchase history,
  • interests,
  • contact preferences,
  • and more.

This will make your segments really insightful, and your visitors will receive marketing messages accurately tailored to their needs and interests.

5) Cultivation of customer lifecycle marketing

With detailed knowledge on the behavior and preferences of your users throughout the entire customer journey, you can start using customer lifecycle marketing.

That said, we know that lifecycle marketing might be a new term for at least some of our readers. So we’d like to give you a short explanation of it.

What is customer lifecycle marketing?

Customer lifecycle marketing (CLM) is an approach in which you use different sources of information about your customers – including demographic, transactional and behavioral data – to develop tailored campaigns based on the stages of the journey your customers are at. What’s interesting is that it concentrates mostly on retaining existing customers rather than acquiring new ones.

This approach may seem surprising at first, but it’s based on a strong foundation. The statistics speak for themselves. A report from Bain & Company found out that a five-percent boost in customer retention can lead to as much as a 95-percent increase in profitability. And a 2012 study from Adobe discovered that, on average, the top 10 percent of your customer base spends three times more per order than your average customer, while the top one percent spends five times more per order. So, there’s a lot to gain with the right approach to customer lifecycle marketing.

Sample application of single customer view in customer lifecycle marketing

According to a great guide prepared by Ometria, under a marketing lifecycle strategy you divide your customers into the following groups:

  • Prospect customers,
  • Active customers,
  • ‘At risk’ customers,
  • Lapsed customers.

Your goal is to transform all the prospect, ‘at risk’ and lapsed customers into active buyers of your products and services. Fortunately, with the data provided by single customer view (SCV), you can easily detect individuals that fall into those three categories. Then you can prepare marketing campaigns that will help you win back their interest and loyalty.

Sample use case: Let’s imagine that you want to identify your lapsed customers who used to be very active buyers of your products or services. The first thing you do is to use the data coming from single customer views. You identify your group by creating segments based on:

  • time since last order,
  • previous purchase frequency,
  • purchase value.
  • That way you’re able to spot users who used to buy a lot and often from you, but for some reason they’ve stopped doing so. With that knowledge in your hands, you can serve them a dedicated email campaign with an attractive promotional code to attract their attention to your brand. Sounds good, right?

    Challenges related to single customer view

    Single customer view is undoubtedly a very desirable way to collect customer data. Unfortunately, putting it into practice involves multiple challenges. According to new research from Experian, more than 80 percent of marketers say that they have trouble achieving a single customer view.

    Meanwhile, over half of marketers from enterprise brands state that the main obstacle on their way to creating a truly cross-channel marketing strategy is linking data in order to create an SCV. In our opinion, this results from the lack of proper technology to facilitate the process.

    Fortunately, right now there are a lot of solutions that help companies in their quest to create the golden customer record. One of the best, originally developed for operations on customer data, are customer data platforms. This technology helps you aggregate data from multiple sources (mostly first-party data), create detailed user segments, and then effectively use this data in your content personalization and remarketing campaigns.

    If you’re not familiar with this term, take a look at this blog post: Discover 4 Key Differences Between DMP (Data Management Platform) and CDP (Customer Data Platform) or just read our product page. It will give you a good overview on the subject.

    PII vs Personal Data (Cheat Sheet INCLUDED!)

    Learn how to recognize PII and Personal Data to stay away from privacy issues.

    Download FREE Guide

    Single customer view – some conclusions

    The numbers speak for themselves – single customer view is a very effective way to manage customer data. But we know that this topic can generate a lot of questions. And that’s great! Our experts will be happy to share their knowledge about how to use this technology to boost both sales and customer loyalty.

    We’d also love to fill you in on issues related to processing your customers’ data in line with existing and future data privacy laws. So don’t hesitate to contact us whenever you like!


    Karolina Lubowicka, Content Marketer

    Content Marketer and Social Media Specialist at Piwik PRO. An experienced copywriter who takes complex topics of data privacy & GDPR and makes them understandable for all. LinkedIn Profile

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