Experience Analytics—A Complete View of the Customer
If you’re a marketer who is creating digital experiences, data is the window into the soul of the customer—who they are, how they behave and what they want. The problem is that customer data almost always exists in a fragmented state across campaigns, business units, external sources and even the offline world.
It’s a challenge that Trevor Paulsen, product manager for Adobe Analytics, is confronted with every day. “Most businesses have to operate in both the online and offline worlds,” he says. “And something we hear from our customers is that although they love working with Adobe Analytics for their digital marketing data, it can be frustrating if they need to work in outside data—like call-center reporting, or point-of-sale data from a brick and mortar location—to get a complete understanding of their customer. We’ve been eager to help them solve that.”
In response, the Adobe Analytics team created a concept technology called Experience Analytics that allows analysts to upload discrete third party data to Adobe Experience Cloud, and integrate, visualize, and interpret it alongside their website and app data in Adobe Analytics. “Our intention is to support as many database technologies as we can with an easy-to-use, drag and drop interface. It could be as easy as importing a standardized data set like a CSV file, but we also want to support more complex use cases.”
During Sneaks at Adobe Summit, for example, Trevor showed how Adobe Analytics could be used with practically any outside information by building a Freeform data table with actor appearances from Saturday Night Live comedy sketches and visualized it in real-time with Sneaks host Leslie Jones.
He also merged sales information from an online storefront alongside retail point of sale data hosted in a Microsoft Dynamics database. With some clever work to match customer identity across the two databases, he was able to show an integrated view of the customer experience highlighting which customers researched a product, how many purchased online, and which customers ultimately purchased the product at a physical store location—one of the most vexing data challenges for retailers today.
Although the results look like straightforward data analysis, making it happen required solutions to three key challenges: customer identity, scale, and speed.
- Identity—Enterprises often have different ways of defining and tracking customer identity, everything from cookies, to login names, credit card numbers and more. “We had to figure out how to connect them across datasets without violating privacy,” says Trevor.
- Scale—In many cases, customer datasets contain billions of rows of data that is constantly evolving.
- Speed—For data to be truly useful, analysts needs to be able to manipulate it and see results within seconds, not hours or days. Aggregating different datasets at speed is especially challenging.
“This is the fun part of my job,” says Trevor. “Instead of one-off solutions, I get to work with a team that builds solutions across the entire platform to solve tricky problems. In this case we were able to rely on some proprietary technology from Adobe Analytics that gives us the speed and scale, and then we connected customer identity manually, under the hood, for our demonstration.”
The result was an elegant visualization of complex customer data, generated instantly through an intuitive drag and drop interface. “The visualizations are a core part of what we already do in Adobe Analytics. What’s new, is that we’re now able to connect the customer journey across the data sets. We’re not just showing online and offline data together. We can also show the cross over, the triggers that result in purchase and attribute offline purchase to specific campaign elements that you don’t typically get from a traditional business intelligence visualization tool,” explains Trevor.
“I’m excited to see where we can take this next. The sky is really the limit, because there’s a never-ending supply of data that exists in silos, just waiting to be made relevant. I’m imagining new opportunities for co-promotion and co-branding, improved cross-device campaigns and more.”
This story is part of a series that will give you a closer look at the people and technology that were showcased as part of Adobe Sneaks. Read other Peek Behind the Sneaks stories here.