Having access to third-party data allows marketers to paint a deeper, more complete picture of their customers. From their likes, dislikes, and product or category preferences, to browsing and purchase behaviors and more, third-party data gives you an opportunity to deliver an even smarter experience to your customers.

While marketers have long had access to third-party data, it’s the depth and breadth of it that’s starting to really take off. Marketers can now better understand the types of products, goods, and services that their customers are in the market for, including what else they like and what else they look at.

marketer-mdmpHere’s an example: If somebody is in the market for a television, when they come to your website, you’ll likely show them a television. But what if you knew that this same person also was in the market for a Rolex watch? You now have a lot more information about that person’s discretionary income, their type of lifestyle, and the type of image they like to portray.

Knowing that this television shopper is also in the market for a Rolex should lead you to not just show him the best-selling 42” plasmas, but maybe you want to promote one of those new 4K Ultra HD TVs. Although it’s a $10,000 product, he’s more likely to have the money for it, and probably wants to be the first person on his block to own one.

Just from this one example, you can see that there’s a lot of information from third-party data that you can glean about a customer to help you know them better.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

The value of third-party data is also in the marketer’s ability to combine it with what they already know about their customer to help build a deeper profile. Once you have this profile, you can then take action by combining info like in-market behaviors and browsing and purchase habits with the customer’s device, operating system, screen size, how the website was reached, and more.

Still, successfully leveraging third-party data requires some strategic thinking. Marketers have to know what they can do with this info. For example, if I know from third-party data that someone recently purchased a car, I could upsell that visitor some audio equipment to install in his new ride. But somebody has to have that idea; it’s not going to automatically jump off the screen just because you have access to a third-party data source.

One of the greatest best practices of utilizing third-party data and avoiding any regrets down the road is to stay out of the weeds. Data providers can potentially give you 10,000-30,000 different segments to target. Some of these segments will be very large and generic, while some will be small and hyper-specific.

You have to approach third-party data with scalability in mind. You could target people who have looked at ankle braces, but just as important to the success (or lack thereof) of this campaign is knowing that this is going to be to be a very small group of people. Also, keep in mind that a sprained ankle is a temporary state, so someone who’s searching for something with more permanency will most likely offer greater scalability to your business.

What has a better chance to work is targeting people who have looked at any health care product. Why? Because it could tell you that they’re health-conscious customers. And that’s going to be a much larger segment and more scalable from a creative resources standpoint by delivering a customer experience that focuses on a healthier lifestyle.

Being too generic is not going to allow you to deliver a real relevant experience, while being too specific is going to lead to being unscalable. Aim for striking that middle ground—and the simplest way to get there is to think scalability in your personalization programs, especially when you add third-party data sources into the mix.

Image courtesy of BlueKai.