Why The Future of Marketing Relies on A 360-Degree Customer View (And How to Create One)

In marketing, a 360-degree customer view is about having an all-encompassing picture of a customer and their interactions with a brand. From their very first contact to their most recent, it’s an aggregation of data that can help a brand build a complete profile of each customer based on their habits, interests, preferred channels, purchase history, devices and more. Having a 360-degree customer view empowers brands to create more personalized communications that enhance the customer experience, which is a key differentiator for retailers in a crowded market.

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Let’s dive in!

The correlation between personalization and a ‘great customer experience’

For years, retail brands have focused on offering consumers affordability and convenience above all else. But for the post-pandemic consumer, personalization is becoming an increasingly influential factor in the customer experience, with 60% of consumers likely to become repeat buyers after a personalized experience. And, 80% of customers now consider the experience a company provides to be as important as its products and services.

According to a report by Acquia, only 10% of consumers surveyed “strongly agreed” that most brands meet their expectations for “a good experience”, while 82% of marketers believe they are meeting customer expectations. This glaring discrepancy is obviously problematic, and although many brands managed to level up the digital shopping experience for their customers during the pandemic lockdowns through sheer necessity, the gap between customer expectations and the experience brands are actually delivering is anything but resolved.

The report also found that:

  • 72% of consumers are loyal to certain brands, but as soon as they have a bad experience with them, they move on
  • 80% of consumers would be more loyal to a brand that understands them and what they’re looking for
  • 60% said that brands don’t do a good job of using their personal preferences to predict their needs
  • 80% of customers expect that technology would have a positive impact, making their experience with brands more valuable, and
  • 61% are not confident that brands have their best interests in mind when they use, share and/or store their personal data.

Unfortunately, half of the marketers surveyed struggle when it comes to unleashing the power of technology:

  • 51% struggle with the speed at which they can bring new customer experiences to market, and
  • 49% struggle when dealing with technology that is too complex to create good customer experiences.

The conclusions from this research – most of which is to do with customer psychology and therefore still relevant post-pandemic – is that brands face a formidable challenge when it comes to meeting customer expectations for personalized experiences while respecting their wishes around privacy. To improve the customer experience, marketers need to understand their audiences a lot better than they’ve been able to in the past, and to achieve this, they need data, and lots of it.

Why traditional data collection methods no longer measure up

One of the most popular methods that has traditionally been used to gather consumer data, is surveys. By simply asking customers to volunteer information about themselves (known as zero-party data), brands have been able to build customer databases over time. The problem with this method – and with traditional market research as well – is that it is exceedingly slow and often unreliable. Data that’s gathered over time can quickly become outdated. People change email addresses (particularly work email addresses), their personal circumstances and preferences can change, their geographical location can change, etc. – so maintaining the integrity of large databases on an ongoing basis manually is an exercise in futility.

“The vast majority of the $90bn market research industry wasn’t built for this world,” says GWI founder and CEO, Tom Smith. “By the time you’ve briefed an agency, signed off your budget, run the fieldwork, waited for data processing, sat on briefing calls with analysts, got the key results, gone back with new questions – the world hasn’t just changed, it’s fundamentally different. Businesses today need to move at the speed of their audiences – and that means having access to the right kind of insight, in the moment you need it.”

Brands that advertise online have been able to maximize reach to relevant audiences thanks to ad platforms that use third-party cookies to gather data about customers as they browse through the web. But with Google planning to phase out support for third-party cookies in their Chrome browser (which accounts for more than 60% of all global web traffic) due to user-privacy concerns, the advertising industry is currently exploring alternatives to the third-party cookie. It remains to be seen what the new solution will be, but the consensus among industry leaders is that brands need to urgently start building up databases that consist of first-party data.

First-party data is data that’s collected passively by brands from their customers with their consent, from their own channels, like their website, email, SMS and loyalty programs. They own this data exclusively and can use it to create more personalized ads, content, and experiences catering to an individual’s interests.

In the past, different departments throughout an organization have typically collected their own data to carry out their specific business objectives, resulting in multiple data silos riddled with discrepancies that would inevitably lead to inconsistent customer communications. In fact, Gartner estimate that every year, poor data quality costs organizations an average $12.9 million. So, the point of having a 360-degree customer view, is to develop a seamless messaging experience for each individual customer to avoid repetition and ensure that the right messages are delivered at the optimal times, depending on where shoppers are in their particular customer journey. 

To create a 360-degree customer view, data must be collected from all of a brand’s customer touch points (including online and offline) and housed in a unified database that can be leveraged in other systems to execute intelligent and intuitive marketing campaigns. The deeper the understanding of the customer and the more on-point the communications, the higher the likelihood of guiding the customer successfully along the engagement or sales funnel.

Having a single, unified database means that relevant stakeholders have access to the same, up-to-date data in addition to the specialized data they collect individually, allowing for more frictionless sharing of insights between teams, which is crucial for scaling businesses today.

Achieving a 360-customer view hinges on the right tech.

To capture as much first-party data as possible, brands need help from CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) that can automate this mammoth task and capture the data in a single platform, and then harness this data to create highly-targeted, up-to-date audience-segments that marketers can reach out to with hyper-personalized messages, recommendations and offers in real time.

As it turns out, in the past few years there has been a boom in the development of CDPs that are designed to solve this very conundrum for marketers, by using AI and machine learning technologies to collect vast amounts of data while maintaining user-privacy. Also known as ‘data intelligence platforms’, they use a process known as “hashing” to associate data pertaining to individual users while disguising their identities, allowing marketers to create segments of customers (or ‘customer cohorts’) based on certain criteria, and personalize marketing messages to individual customers (at scale) for maximum relevance and impact, while adhering to privacy regulations such as GDPRCCPA and others.

In the United States, CDPs and content marketing were considered the most fundamental technologies in companies’ marketing stacks in 2021. According to Statista, while the overall number of martech solutions keeps growing every year, CDPs are becoming particularly relevant as they help marketers collect, analyze, and utilize relevant consumer data in a nearly cookieless world.”

Using CDPs is crucial in an era where the customer journey is no longer linear. With so many digital and physical touchpoints, it can be tricky to understand where and how consumers are interacting with your brand, especially when you consider that the average person’s buying journey includes 27 buying interactions! For example, they might begin by researching products online using search engines, social media, review sites, and even word-of-mouth before going to a physical store to purchase. Or conversely, they shop around in physical stores so they can see the product for themselves, and then find the best deal for it online.

Whatever the case may be, customers now expect digital innovation to facilitate connected journeys, and that when brands communicate with them throughout the discovery and purchase process (via email, SMS and other preferred channels), the messages will make sense and cater to their specific needs at each stage. This can only be achieved if marketers have a 360-degree view of all of their customers.

What type of data is used to create a 360-degree customer view?

Rather than using the sort of limited personal identifiers that were possible to collect using pre-CDP technology, like a person’s age, gender and recent purchase history, CDPs allow marketers to leverage deeper segmentation criteria, including data around the customer’s buying patterns, environmental or emotional triggers that might influence their decisions, preferred social media platforms, and more – all of which contribute towards building a 360-degree customer view, that helps to maximize customer satisfaction and conversion.

The better the customer experience, and the more they feel the brand is working hard to understand their wants and needs, the higher the odds they will become a repeat customer.

Using a 360-degree view that’s created for individual customers at scale opens up a world of powerful targeting capabilities for marketers. Here are some of the data types that contribute to building a 360-degree customer view:

  1. Basic Demographic Information, like age, gender, occupation, income, education, marital status etc. This type of basic demographic data is usually used to identify people with common characteristics, interests and preferences.
  2. Geographic Information is useful to marketers who want to run location-based campaigns, and leverage factors like local weather conditions, cultural events, holidays, and even local customs and language nuances.
  3. Customer Behavior and Habits: This type of data can help marketers create audience segments based on how they interact with their brand, including their preferred channels, daily behavioral patterns, shopping frequency, what factors influence their purchasing decisions, and more.
  4. Level of interaction with the brand and purchase history. Information around how long a customer has had a relationship with the brand and the type of interactions they’ve had (including purchase history) can inform customization for very different types of messaging. For example, long-time versus first-time customers, seasonal shoppers, customers who may have engaged with Support or customer service in the past, avid fans who interact with the brand on social media, customers who are currently active in the customer journey, etc.
  5. Personal interests, concerns and passions. Data around ‘what makes customers tick’ can shed light on their personalities and provide countless targeting opportunities for marketers by creating messaging that will resonate with specific customers based on their likes and dislikes.
  6. Channel and device preferences. Marketers can use data that indicates their customers’ preferred channels (including social media platforms) or devices, so they can reach out to them using the channels that are most likely to result in a conversion.

What Are the Benefits of a 360-Degree Customer View?

Creating more effective marketing messages using better targeting thanks to a 360-degree customer view improves the effectiveness of a brand’s overall marketing efforts. Here are a few key benefits:

1. Identifying opportunities for touchpoint optimization to increase conversions.

The more comprehensive the data that’s available on each customer, the easier it is for marketers to predict outcomes. CDPs do this through predictive analysis, enabling retailers to analyze the performance of various touch points throughout the customer journey, and to use this information to optimize any touchpoints or messaging that might be hindering conversions, or to double-down on campaigns that are proving to be particularly effective.

2. More sales, reduced costs and increased ROAS.

Building an extensive profile for each customer gives marketers unprecedented insights into ‘what makes them tick’. By better understanding the customer’s motivations and historical interactions with a brand, marketers can tailor offers that are most likely to appeal to them, rather than waste ad spend on campaigns that aren’t compatible with the customers’ known preferences and inclinations. It can also help them identify opportunities to upsell or cross-sell, and shed light on the types of messaging that’s most likely to convert each user. This type of sophisticated hyper-personalization can help marketers use their budgets more efficiently, invest time and money in initiatives that are likely to see the best ROI, and boost overall sales.

3. Deep insight into the customer lifecycle and better predictive capabilities.

A 360-degree customer view allows marketers to identify the various stages of the customer lifecycle, and to use this information to tailor communications in the most logical and effective way for each stage. It also means that marketers can anticipate their customers’ needs based on their purchase and engagement history, and be more proactive about reaching out to customers who are likely to be receptive to certain types of offers.

4. Cross-channel marketing.

Knowing about a customer’s shopping habits and preferred channels of interaction allows marketers to communicate with them in the digital spaces they are most likely to be receptive to those communications, increasing the odds of a conversion to the next step in the funnel.

5. Strengthen customer loyalty.

The more customers are impressed by the relevance of your brand’s offers and the convenience of the shopping experience across their preferred touchpoints, the higher the likelihood they will return again and again, becoming loyal customers and even advocates for your brand.

Final thoughts…

Whether a brand is large or small, to stand out in a ruthlessly competitive retail landscape, it needs to truly understand its audience, by leveraging extensive and up-to-date data.

The extent to which a brand is able to understand its audience using data-driven insights will determine how effectively it can make reliable, strategic decisions and create timely and personalized customer experiences that are so remarkable, they clearly differentiate the brand from competitors in its niche. The only way to do that in the age of omnichannel marketing is to invest in technology that can help marketers create and leverage a 360-degree customer view.


Pairzon is an AI-powered, cutting-edge solution that pairs in-store transactional data with customers’ online identities, providing Retail Marketers with unparalleled audience discovery, segmentation, measurement, and purchase intent prediction capabilities.

Get in touch to book a demo and see how Pairzon can help you create and target digital marketing campaigns with maximum precision to improve customer experience, boost ROI and increase revenue.