The Great Digital / Non-Digital Divide

Anyone who deals with customer relationships knows we are missing out on valuable customer information and insight if we don’t integrate our non digital and digital data. Data that could shed broader insight into our customers’ interests and needs.

And yet, many of us shy away from doing so because of the fear of making an already complex world even more complex.

Why is integrating digital and non-digital customer data so daunting?

In many businesses, the task of integrating digital and non-digital customer data is daunting because silos continue to exist across marketing functions. Each silo has “grown” independently as new channels have been created, leaving, as Forrester describes in their Organize for Digital Intelligence report, “A fractured landscape of digital and non-digital teams.” That’s a nice way of describing the great divide between digital data owners and non-digital data owners.

This “great divide” is further complicated in our multi-channel world.  Both “camps” splinter into their own data silos.  For example, offline channel silos typically include, in-store transactions, loyalty engagement and email response activity, while digital channel silos include web analytics, e-commerce transactions, mobile, and social media.  To further exacerbate the issue, each team uses their own unique language, metrics and methods for analysis of customer data.

The result?  Inconsistent customer experiences and less impactful marketing.

The implications of not being able to gain customer insight across multiple channels are profound and put any customer centric relationship strategy at risk.

After all, the silos were not created by the customer and as to their journey to purchase, and beyond, they don’t distinguish boundaries between digital and non digital. They only see a world which gives them more options to flex their muscles and bestow their loyalty on the brands that deliver the relevancy they not only expect, but now demand.

So, the fear that it is too complex a task to integrate digital and non digital data ultimately results in a much bigger and more threatening fear — the inability to compete.

Biting the integration bullet is a must to deliver the relevancy needed to build strong customer relationships.

To remain competitive businesses must:

  1. Develop a strategy that fuses all data and marketing programs across all channels into one cohesive, holistic customer experience. We must mirror the natural course of the customer journey.
  1. Organize to optimize all data intelligence. Like customer relationships, employing and optimizing data intelligence is not a one-time event. It is ongoing. It demands creating an organizational structure and culture of continuous collaboration and cooperation across digital and non digital departments.

I’ll leave you with an example of the upside of a fused strategy as described by Kerrie Adams, Director of Enterprise Analytics at Lowe’s Home Improvement. In a recent CRMC presentation, Kerrie highlighted a few of the game changing insights her combined analytic team was able to deliver to the marketing group.  My favorite was the kitchen remodel campaign.

To identify a target group of customers on the path to making some major purchases for a kitchen remodel, digital and non-digital customer data was leveraged.  Customer groups were created by analyzing web browsing behaviors (such as “how to” page visits, and or appliance page visits) and in-store purchases (like the purchase of three different tile types, plus the purchase of a remodel book). The analysis culminated in a successful marketing campaign that delivered relevancy, delighted customers, and drove significant revenues for the Lowe’s enterprise.


To learn more about what digital brings to the table, beyond survey data or back-end analytics, download The Harvard Business Review’s recently published article,

Getting More Granular Data on Customer Journeys, here.


About the Author: Connie is passionate about customer relationship strategy and truly understands consumer behavior.  An executive level advisor for some of the world’s most prestigious brands, Connie has a track record of delivering game changing customer strategy alongside significant bottom line results. Through the years, companies such as GE Capital, Intuit Software and Costco Wholesale have sought Connie’s expertise.  Connie is President and Founder of VeraCentra, a Customer Relationship Agency.


VeraCentra’s Closed Loop Solution is an integrated approach that brings together relationship strategy and data scientist teams to overcome technology and data challenges to help yield actionable customer insights.  And our Journey design services coupled with our digital platform integration team work in parallel to advance action, creating and automating customer messages.  Our Closed Loop Solution is fully integrated, allowing you to realize a quick return on your customer relationship marketing investment.