May 24, 2021

What is a Single Customer View and Why is it Valuable?

minute read

You may have heard terms like “single view of the customer” and “unified customer profiles” as hot topics in the martech world—but what do these terms actually mean for business users? Here’s a practical overview of what a single customer view platform looks like within a Customer Data Platform (CDP) and how it helps businesses genuinely understand and engage their customers.

Direct-to-consumer brands use many different systems to operate their businesses—POS, ecommerce, ERP, customer service, email, website, and more.

Each system contains valuable information about customers. But without the ability to easily combine, standardize, and visualize that information, it sits in each system raw, idle, and disconnected.

This fragmented data creates fragmented customer experiences. Brands that struggle to understand their true relationship with each customer are slow to innovate, adapt, and connect with customers in meaningful ways.

Today’s digital-first retail market requires the consolidation and standardization of data into a single customer view to help create meaningful one-to-one relationships between your business and your customers. A single customer view data model compiles your data into an easy-to-navigate user interface where business users can self-serve genuine customer insight—without the help of an already-busy IT team or expensive external consultant. Customer insights inform decision-making across the business and ultimately lead to higher-value customer relationships.

These customer profiles are built and updated in real-time with a CDP. A CDP provide a single view of customer architecture, which can be used for adopting a customer-centric business model and personalizing every touchpoint in the customer lifecycle, from marketing to sales to service.

To help you understand the practical value of a single customer view created by a CDP, this blog will take a deep dive into:

  • What a single customer view actually looks like and single customer view use cases
  • Which data sources and digital channels are integrated to create a single customer view within a CDP.
  • Which key customer characteristics and out-of-the-box segments are created as outputs of this data.
  • How these characteristics and segments can be used to improve every customer touchpoint.

… and more!

What is a single customer view?

A single customer view—or unified, cleansed, and standardized customer profiles—are created by aggregating multiple sources of data and reorganizing that data to paint a comprehensive picture of each individual customer within a CDP. In other words, it acts as a “single source of truth” for all of the customer information to which your business has access.

Unlike traditional, channel-focused data management systems, a CDP reorganizes data to support a customer-centric business model, provides every team with the ability to self-serve customer insights based on that data, and improves the quality of existing data as well as data collection methods for the future.

Here’s a single customer view example within Lexer:

Even if you can find each data point in each system, stitching them together is difficult and time-consuming. Understanding true customer lifetime value is nearly impossible without combined data from retail and e-commerce—this one of the greatest single customer view benefits.

In order to provide the best customer experience possible, your business would need access to the most complete, comprehensive, and up-to-date information as possible. This profile has combined, cleansed, and transformed all of their information to form a clear picture of who the individual customer is and how they engage as a customer. In other words, a single customer view makes complex data simple for business users, empowering marketers, service team members, and other stakeholders to self-serve actionable insights.

With combined, up-to-date customer profiles like these, you can serve your customers better both in-store and online. Without them, you run the risk of delivering disjointed customer experiences which lead to missed opportunities for re-engagement and upsells.

Outdoor equipment brand Black Diamond has done this very well. They used the Lexer CDP single customer view dashboard to better understand their customers; build high-value audiences for targeted lead generation, customer acquisition, and win-back campaigns; and grow the lifetime value (LTV) of their existing customer base. Click here to read more about Black Diamond's experience with Lexer.

How does a CDP create a single view of the customer?

A CDP creates a true, persistent single customer view by integrating a wide variety of disparate data, including:

  • Demographic information.
  • Purchase history in all channels.
  • Customer service interactions.
  • Web and mobile browsing activities.
  • Email engagement.

This information is sourced from direct integrations with ecommerce systems, point-of-sale systems, email marketing platforms, marketing automation platforms, or other retail systems, as well as through batch file uploads and flexible APIs. Additionally, you can enrich this data with customer survey responses using a built-in form feature such as Lexer Forms or third-party lifestyle information such as Experian’s Mosaic.

Once this data has been ingested into the CDP, the customers need to be identified and matched across each dataset. This matching process is called Identity Resolution. With the ability to match customers using multiple unique identifiers such as email, phone number, name, and address, the CDP can unify all customer information from multiple systems into one single customer view.

Typically, this integration process can be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming—but not with Lexer. Because the Lexer team takes on all the heavy-lifting for the customer, our onboarding process has been described as the “smoothest integration” in a customer’s 10 years of IT management experience. Click here to read the kikki.K testimonial describing this integration.

Which key customer characteristics are included in a single customer view?

Through the integration process, your CDP has combined your data into complete and accurate customer profiles.

However, in this state, the data is not yet fit for business users to draw customer insights. There’s still one more step to creating an actionable single customer view that will add value to your business.

This next step is to take this raw, granular data and resolve it into information that’s easy to digest, tailored for business users to self-serve insights, and quickly activated across other channels and systems. This information is organized into easy-to-understand profile components which we call “attributes.”

“Attributes” are important facts or characteristics about customers, such as their total number of orders or total spend, and these attributes are easily accessible from a single customer view.

A CDP like Lexer also enriches these profiles with predictive attributes—such as churn risk or predictive lifetime value—and out-of-the-box customer segmentation tools that can be put to work immediately. Working from these enriched profiles, you can draw precise customer insights, track omnichannel performance metrics at the segment level, and activate personalized campaigns across social, search, email, and programmatic channels.

Here’s an overview of the standard attributes that are available in Lexer after transforming your data into a single customer view:

Brands can also partner with Lexer to design and implement additional attributes, custom and unique to their business.

These attributes give you the ability to easily and accurately track, measure, and streamline critical touchpoints in the customer lifecycle to drive unprecedented value. For example:

  • Understanding the predicted customer LTV of different segments helps you focus your ad spend and effort where it will drive the most value.
  • Understanding churn rates and churn risk tells you where and when to intervene to re-engage customers before they’re lost forever.
  • Understanding the average time between first and second orders helps you time your post-purchase follow-up to turn one-time buyers into two-time buyers and beyond.
  • Understanding the next product a customer is likely to purchase helps your retail associates personalize in-store interactions for better service and higher sales.
  • Understanding how these key attributes track over time can help you measure the impact of major market changes and respond to these changes with agility and insight.

The apparel group Brand Collective uses the Lexer CDP to boost return-on-ad-spend, accelerate customer acquisition, reinforce brand equity, and make strategic changes to their business. Click here to read Brand Collective's story.

Which customer segments are created with a CDP—and how do you use them?

Once you’ve created rich customer profiles with a CDP, you can generate actionable customer segments to improve marketing performance.

Lexer creates a number of out-of-the-box segments for you, so you can begin orchestrating high-value campaigns from day one.

Here are some common segments and examples of how you use them:

  • Customer-only and prospect-only: The buying motivations of existing customers often differ from those of prospects. By targeting customers and prospects with different messaging, you can improve both acquisition and lifetime value.
  • Inferred gender segments, i.e., male-only or female-only: Gender segments are great for gifting campaigns, such as targeting fathers who are shopping for Mother’s Day.
  • Email opt-in, email opt-out, and engagement-based segments: Email engagement is a great channel for retargeting, but it doesn’t reach opted-out customers who are at risk of churning. You can target opted-out customers through social advertising to re-engage them before they’re lost.
  • Purchase channel preference segments, i.e., retail-only or omnichannel: Channel preference is a key customer attribute; if you know that a specific customer segment only buys in-store, you should tailor your messaging to encourage them to visit retail locations. Or, you could create a campaign encouraging retail shoppers to migrate online.
  • Active customers and lapsed customers: Learning why and when customers lapse helps you develop the best action plan for re-engaging them before they’ve churned.
  • Order value and quantity segments, i.e., frequent, high-value buyers vs. infrequent, low-value buyers: Order frequency and value can highlight key differences in the buying motivations of different customer segments. Because motivations differ between frequent, high-value buyers and infrequent, low-value buyers, you have to tailor your messaging to reap the best results.
  • Customer lifetime value segments: Segmenting your customers by lifetime value can help you understand which customer personas provide the highest value to your brand. Building your lookalike audiences around these customers will help you increase the impact of your acquisition and retention strategies.
  • Loyalty status segments: Loyalty members should always be targeted differently than non-loyalty members. Segmenting customers by loyalty status allows you to provide special gifts, exclusive offers, and more personalized messaging to your most valued customers.
  • Segments based on product preferences and predictive attributes: Purchase histories give you valuable insight into customer preferences and what they’re likely to purchase next, so you can target them with relevant messaging when the time is right.

With segments like these, you can immediately start driving high-impact engagement with a CDP. After testing these initial segments and establishing performance baselines, you can begin to improve, iterate, and optimize each campaign for compounding value.

This time-to-value advantage is just one of the many reasons that customers choose Lexer as their preferred CDP partner—and continue to renew with us year after year. The Lexer platform is designed to be as easy as possible for users to achieve sophisticated insights and drive amazing customer experiences, even with little to no technical expertise. Click here to learn the top 15 reasons customers choose Lexer.

Data is most valuable when it’s combined, accessible, and actionable

In today’s competitive market, business leaders seem obsessed with the idea of collecting, unifying, and standardizing customer data. However, the value associated with standardized customer data comes not from the amount of data you have, but the ways in which you use that data to inform business decisions.

Built specifically for brands and retailers, Lexer helps bring your data to life with a single view of the customer—and then we show you how to put it to good use. With native tools to enhance every customer touchpoint and a talented team providing strategic guidance and ongoing support, we help iconic brands transform into customer-centric businesses.

Book a meeting using the calendar link below to learn how Lexer can help you connect your data, self-serve insights, and orchestrate personalized experiences.

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Elizabeth Burnam
Content Marketing Specialist
Elizabeth Burnam is a content marketer and a poet at heart. She has a degree in Professional Writing and experience developing high-impact marketing assets for a broad range of industries.Outside of work, she enjoys reading, painting, people-watching, and exploring the natural wonders of Vermont.