We have already talked about how too much data can often be a barrier to customer-centricity, now for the opposite.

Online marketing and ecommerce allows vast amounts of customer data to be collected. It’s easy to assume that the ‘data lake’ you create already includes the information you want somewhere or somehow. But this isn’t necessarily true, and it’s sensible to look into third-party data sources who might have knowledge that you're missing.

Partner and affiliate data

One of the most obvious sources of data that many brands overlook is that from their partner, affiliates or associated companies. Organisations increasingly operate as part of networks consisting of business partners such as suppliers, resellers, channel partners, regulators, and other stakeholders. These networks are often globally distributed and potentially affected by economic, political, and/or environmental factors and so can be your early warning system for shifting consumer behaviours, competitor initiatives, or geopolitical events can affect a business. Whilst regulation may inhibit the sharing of personal data, there are still some wider datasets that will be useful in plugging a data gap.


Category data

Most organisations have data from their own silo. They understand how customers are interacting with their touchpoints, their website, their social media, through their loyalty cards etc but they don’t know if this is typical. As such it can be useful to have some wider industry or category data at your disposal. This might sit alongside studies such as share of wallet, usage & attitude or market mapping.

There’s a quote by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, that says “Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, etc.” Do the same thing with your customer data. For example, a segmentation for a domestic appliance manufacturer would include attitudes to how people interact with and view their home.


Practical challenges

Retail or financial analytics firms, or consumer omnibus surveys might provide much needed context that completes your picture of the customer. It’s important to do your due diligence when selecting a partner in this area. Many clients tell us it is difficult to identify the right data sources and partners and that it can be arduous reviewing vendor contracts and licensing agreements. If you are tapping into a wider pool of data providers, thinking about the ways in which data will be shared among different parties can also get complex.

In terms of finding the right partners, we would always advise to look at their pedigree, their client list, and make sure they have the right accreditations. Above and beyond this, a good partner is one that asks the difficult questions that ensures that any data they deliver will be useful, practical and will answer those burning business questions.


Technical Challenges

A lot of organisations struggle to handle the inconsistencies between external and internal data. Data cleansing and formatting can be quite time consuming to begin with and there is also a challenge around the storing and accessibility of that data afterwards. Sometimes IT systems are only able to handle internal data and are not designed or configured to take third-party data.

A solid brief to your data partner should hopefully solve some of these problems on a project-by-project basis, but longer term you will need to find ways to cut down that formatting time. This could be through automated solution or even outsourcing some the simpler data manipulation. Make sure you have the raw data in an industry standard format like SPSS, even if your organisation doesn’t use it, most agencies can and so will speed up future sharing of insight.

If you are looking for a trusted data provider with over 20 years experience, why not reach out to Bonamy Finch and see if we can help you.