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Single customer view (SCV): what is it and how does it work?

Data management

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Published July 30, 2019 · Updated October 18, 2022

Single customer view (SCV): what is it and how does it work?

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. But 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 a single customer view.

What is a single customer view?

A single customer view (also called ‘360’, ‘360 degree’ or ‘unified customer view) is a method for gathering all the data about your prospects and clients 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 they performed – on their mobiles, on your website, or even in your offline store.

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

Single customer view (SCV) – types of data

An SCV is created by merging various pieces of information about your users from multiple sources. Sometimes those sources can be scattered throughout the tools used by many different departments – not just marketing, but also sales, product design, and more.

The data used to create a single customer view may include:

  • Web, mobile and behavioral data: for example, data on the categories and products browsed by the user, products added to a basket, and products abandoned. This could include, clicks, scrolls, hovers, time spent on the page – the kind of data gathered by your various analytics tools.
  • CRM & offline data sources: for example, postal address information, telephone information, email address information, social network information, permission and suppression data.
  • Transactional systems: for example, data about number of products purchased (both online and offline), order/subscription value, order/renewal dates, product abandonment (abandoned baskets), product returns, etc.
  • Data on GDPR consents: the list of consents for data processing provided by your users. Under GDPR, users can give consent to some data collection purposes and reject the rest, be it personalization or A/B testing.
A basic SCV created based on visitor data

An SCV is, above all, composed of data that meets the definition of first-party data: the information that a brand or company collects itself and owns.

Example of custom attributes you can apply to enrich user profiles

If you want to dig deeper into the benefits involved of first-party data, visit this blog post:
Why First-Party Data is the Most Valuable to Marketers

Data contained in unified 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 and upsell campaigns
  • Content personalization
  • Facebook and Google Ads
  • Email and CRM
  • Exporting audiences to other tools

What are the benefits of applying a single customer view?

By now, you probably know what SCV 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 summarized the most important benefits that come from incorporating SCV into your marketing strategy:

1. Cross-channel marketing data

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”.

Buyers 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 clients at your fingertips, you’re now able to recreate their whole journey with your brand. This is possible regardless of how many devices or marketing channels they’ve used to get in contact with you.

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-a 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:

2. No more siloed or duplicate 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 your data is stored in separate locations spread across the whole organization.

One of the key benefits of creating 360 degree user view is solving the problem of siloed or duplicate data – a side effect of organizations adding new channels and software that hold information separately without proper integration.

Data isolation results from different departments within a company – be it sales, marketing, finance or IT – paying more attention to their individual channels, processes, KPIs and metrics, rather than concentrating on the buyers themselves.

This makes it almost impossible to share user information between teams, not to mention using it to improve the customer experience. And secondly, there’s a lot of duplicate data in the system.

This can lead to many mistakes that your consumers might not forgive. For instance, you might send multiple copies of the same marketing piece, or even present your shoppers 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 experience to your users. Fortunately, with SCV at your service, this will never happen again.

How to connect data dots with marketing technology

Most marketers work with numerous marketing systems which, when used in combination, form so called “marketing stacks”. Integrating them to achieve a unified customer view is challenging and involves deep understanding of the nature of these connections.

Experts from Customer Data Platform Institute discuss different ways to unify them:

  • Directly connecting different marketing systems to each other. It could take a lot of work from a technical point of view, depending on the particular system. This approach may not be the best solution as it requires too many connections to be established between the individual systems.
    Having only five systems would necessitate making 10 point-to-point connections. But what if you had about 20 or 30 systems? In reality, organizations are able to integrate just a few key systems with one another, while the remaining ones are just partially integrated or completely ignored.
  • Linking marketing systems to a shared central database. This approach means building a master database that can aggregate data from different sources, transform it into useful formats, and make it accessible to other systems.
    In this case, fewer connections are needed than in the previous method as all systems use the same data. It also means you add data to the existing system rather than create a new one. This is where a customer data platform (CDP) comes in handy.
  • Not integrating any system. That’s the method applied by 29% of companies since it’s probably the easiest approach. The problem is that this way won’t provide you with an SCV at all.

3. More informed marketing decisions

With a more holistic overview of your consumer’s’ behavior, you’ll stop making marketing decisions based on pure assumptions, however convincing they may be.

Instead, you obtain an individualised view to better identify your most valuable buyers. It lets you develop and deliver cross-sell and upsell opportunities more easily, and increase retention.

Thanks to detailed information about your site visitors’ 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, you can use this data further to predict future demand and to tailor marketing materials addressing those needs.

4. More accuracy and greater relevance for targeting

Once you’ve obtained the 360 degree customer view you can use it to improve your targeting efforts. You don’t need to worry about duplicate or inaccurate data.

Knowing, for instance, where your buyers do their shopping, you can send customized messages with information about some events in that area or simply about the shop itself.

With granular data of all kinds available – from demographic to transactional data points complementary to one another – you can reach the right person with the right, precisely personalized offers. Forget about hit-and-miss marketing campaigns.

Psst! Here you’ve got all the ins and outs on targeting with CDP:
Audience Targeting: How to Successfully Use a CDP

5. Detailed segments

Detailed information about your app or website users equals more information available when crafting audience segments. Unlike aggregated data that implies that all visitors are equal, which is a false assumption – segmented data reflects how different your visitors really are. They have various browsers, devices, demographics, and face different issues using your site or app.

Precise data can let you segment your users based on relevant attributes and behaviors, which provides better insights and helps you target them with the right messages. With access to an SCV you can create user segments based on factors like:

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

This will help to draw valuable insights from your segments, and make marketing messages more accurately tailored to your visitors’ needs and interests.


6. Full understanding of the clients’ needs

Connecting all the data dots regarding your prospects, i.e. every bit of information your organization gathers, yields more complete, multi-dimensional profiles. They’re an outstanding source of knowledge about your prospects and clients.

This means you gain a deeper understanding of their needs, preferences, habits, intentions. Equipped with such details you can create better tailored communications and offerings across the whole digital landscape.

7. Cultivation of customer lifecycle marketing

With detailed knowledge on the behavior and preferences of your users throughout the entire user 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 consumers – including demographic, transactional and behavioral data – to develop tailored campaigns based on the stages of the journey they are at. What’s interesting is that it concentrates mostly on retaining existing buyers 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 client 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 client base spends three times more per order than your average buyer, while the top one percent spends five times more per order. So, there’s a lot to gain with the right approach to CLM.

3 Key building blocks to create 360 customer view

As we’ve mentioned above, creating a unified customer view is a complex process that involves merging data dispersed across digital sources, and getting rid of so-called data silos.

From practical point of view, you need to focus on the 3 key elements listed below.

#1 Customer journey view

To obtain an SCV you need to get a broader perspective of people’s interactions, then zoom in on the smaller steps they take with your brand. It means you take into consideration their present and past moves, going back and forth as it’s a non-linear path. Then you can easily predict a few steps ahead.

What’s more, you follow users across all channels, watch as they switch between them and stay alert on their pain points to help people when they got stuck at some.

To connect and analyze all these data bits you can turn to customer journey analytics.

An example of customer journey from Rail Europe. Source:

#2 Connected user data

With all data sources in place, whether it’s your CRM, email platform, marketing automation platform or transactional system, you need to merge the data bits into single records. That’s what customer 360-degree view is about – having a full dimensional profile of your clients and prospects.

You can employ for this job a CDP that lets you consolidate every data bit about your users, and provides you with a complete overview of actions people take on your website, mobiles and even at your store downtown.

CDPs most commonly match customers by using their email addresses. Since this address is unique to them, you can identify and match users across very broad data sets. This is the so-called deterministic matching method ensuring 80-90% accuracy.

With such degree of accuracy of profile matching, you can build a rich and expandable database of people profiles which you can further enrich along the whole user journey user take with your brand.

#3 Sound strategy

It takes a lot of effort and planning to create a 360 customer view. With the thorough strategy you can define the scope and purpose of your SCV project. In the first place, you need to know what you want to achieve with it, how it will help your organization.

It also involves engaging different company departments, getting ready to introduce business-wide changes, managing different resources, from budget, assets to external suppliers.

Then you need to prioritize data sources, choose technological solutions to help you with collecting, merging and analyzing data and putting it into further use.

Where to apply SCV in digital marketing

A 360 customer view offers marketers a wide range of applications, insights, loyalty programs, client service. But at the heart of SCV usage is personalization.

The one-on-one marketing is about providing personalized communications with people, whether on your website, mobile app or email campaigns.

Thanks to data gathered from people’s browsing behavior, both explicit or implicit one, and merging it with user profile information you’ll be able to display products or content that truly resonate with visitors.

Having details on people’s intent, interests and preferences, you will be able to make:

  • Customized product recommendations
  • Cart abandonment reminders
  • Personalized app onboarding
  • Up and cross-sell campaigns
  • Re-engaging shopping lists
  • More relevant search results lists
  • Tailored discount offers, service advice

And the list could go on, it’s just a matter of your creativity and available resources.

The application of SCV. Source:

But that’s not all. Personalization perfectly fits into a marketing lifecycle strategy, so let’s go into more details. According to a great guide prepared by Ometria, under CLM strategy you divide your clients 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 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.

Single customer view 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 unified views of users. 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?

Roadblocks to building a single customer view

According to new research from Experian, more than 80 percent of marketers say that they have trouble achieving a 360 degree user view.

Some barriers are easier to cross, especially when the management realizes that the goal is worth the effort. That’s the case of money or corporate politics. Others might take more time and effort.

Poor data quality

The quality of data for your marketing initiatives is critical. In order to create SCV, you need to make sure that you’ve got reliable and accurate information on your clients. Marketers and CX specialist need to understand this matter.

Part of this process involves keeping your data up to date, as it might become outdated. That’s why it’s crucial to monitor your database regularly but most importantly, validate your data sources.

Disconnected data

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 solutions that help companies in their quest to create the golden customer record. One of the best, originally developed for operations on client data, are CDPs.

This technology helps you aggregate user details from multiple sources, create detailed segments, and then effectively apply 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.

Next, the matter of privacy regulations proliferating across the globe. They are intended to bring more control to people over their data scattered across the digital ecosystem.

If your organization drives on creating a unified customer view, you need to fulfill the requirements of these legislations, be it GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or Brazilian General Data Protection Law (LGPD). This basically means having a consent management system in place, paired with mechanisms for processing user data requests.

In case you want to know how the technology can work in line with GDPR, check out our post:
Customer data platforms: The best choice in the post-GDPR landscape

Legacy systems

Despite having a wealth of data at their fingertips, many organizations struggle to use it because they still rely on legacy systems. That’s the biggest barrier to data integration, alongside the insufficient quality and standardization of data.

And when it comes to building an SCV, data integration is of paramount importance. Marketers need to face the challenge of data scattered across channels and stuck in outdated systems.

Also, there’s a good chance your historic data from the legacy doesn’t fit in the new system format or even isn’t accessible in new systems and may be stored only in a data warehouse.

Moreover, legacy systems can contain terminology or procedures that are not relevant anymore and can hamper understanding of current methods.

Final thoughts

The numbers speak for themselves – a 360 customer view is a very effective way to manage user information. 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 it to boost both sales and consumer loyalty.

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

Related posts:

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Karolina Lubowicka

Senior Content Marketer and Social Media Specialist

An experienced copywriter who takes complex topics of data privacy & GDPR and makes them understandable for all. LinkedIn Profile

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Karolina Matuszewska

Senior Content Marketer

Writer and content marketer. Transforms technical jargon into engaging and informative articles.

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