Integrations run the internet today.

If you’ve ever signed onto a website with Facebook, you already know how great they can be. Integrations link up your favorite products, software, and platforms to make your life easier. They’re so ubiquitous, you may not have even realized you’re using an integration.

But in the world of B2C marketing, many aren’t yet using integrations to their full potential. For years, marketers have solved new challenges with point solutions that solve one specific problem. Marketers ended up wrangling multiple tools: an ecommerce platform, an email service provider, mobile marketing software, paid ad platforms, and more. All of these solutions are completely siloed from one another, making it difficult for marketers to see a full picture of their customers.

That’s why integrations are the key technology that will power B2C marketing in 2018. Unifying data from any number of point solutions and other disconnected sources of data unlocks a whole new layer of understanding and capabilities for marketers. Here’s how integrations can lift your B2C marketing strategy to new heights.

What exactly is an integration?

Put simply, an integration is a connection or bridge that allows two or more systems to communicate with each other.

It’s easy to see the value of this from a user perspective. For example, integrations can streamline software access. Instead of having to sign into multiple platforms to do your job, you simply log on in one place and access everything you need from a single interface. However, the benefits extend far beyond convenience. By integrating multiple marketing tools, you can actually amplify the impact each can have significantly.

If you can integrate your marketing and customer service data, for example, you can better understand your customer behavior and eliminate potentially awkward personalization errors. If a customer has an open customer service ticket, you can automatically suspend all promotional emails to that customer until it is fully resolved. That way, you won’t annoy your customer and cause them to walk away from your brand before customer service is able to handle their complaint.

Integrate all your customer data

If you sell your product direct to consumer, you likely use an ecommerce platform. This platform can serve as the hub for much of your customer data including all purchases, addresses, and other identifying information. Nearly all of these platforms offer an API, which is the technology that makes simple integrations possible and allows you to pull this ecommerce data into your marketing platform. This is a great start, but you can do even more. With the right integrations, you can unify and centralize all of your valuable data in one place, including:

  • Marketing automation data like email opens and clickthroughs
  • Google Ad data like SERP results
  • Facebook and Instagram data like click throughs
  • Website data across devices including mobile
  • Product catalog data
  • Customer service data like open tickets or resolved issues
  • Point-of-sale transactions in-store

With the help of integrations, you can pull together all of that data into one central location — a B2C CRM. With ALL your customer data in one location, you can start to truly understand how your customers buy, what they like, and how they prefer to communicate with your brand. Then, you can start to use that information to better personalize and customize your marketing communications, creating a consistent and positive experience across the board.

Use the data to market creatively

Data is only as powerful as what you do with it. Having all the information in one place is useful, but you still have to use it creatively to engage your buyers. For example, you can analyze the data to see which social campaigns are most effective at acquiring new customers versus driving a second or third purchase from existing customers. Then, you can analyze which product line correlates to the highest lifetime value for your buyers overall.

This information can truly drive your B2C marketing strategy, informing which marketing campaigns you double down on, and which you stop entirely because they’re ineffective. It also helps you improve how you engage with buyers, better personalizing your marketing to their exact preferences and tastes at a specific moment in time. It’s easy to see how these advantages can quickly compound, increasing your customer acquisition rate, improving customer loyalty, and driving real revenue.

This is the true power of integrations. It’s not just some technical jargon or a nice-to-have convenience — it’s a true differentiator for your B2C brand. Hopefully, you’re now convinced that it’s time to invest some real effort into your own integrations and improve how your marketing platforms work together today.

Cara Hogan

Cara Hogan is the Content Strategist at Zaius, where she focuses on how technology can drive business growth. She is a grammar perfectionist, a data enthusiast, and a rock climber.