Why Marketers Should Bring Their Offline CRM Data Online

Marketers who leverage offline customer segmentation to drive online marketing activities can improve retargeting and new customer acquisition.

Marketers have long used marketing services and data providers to gain a precise understanding of their offline customers. This has enabled marketers to tailor their marketing campaigns, such as direct mail, to specific customers and prospects. However, traditional marketing is becoming more expensive, harder to scale, and is declining in performance as consumers shift their attention to the Web. Alternatively, the Internet is helping marketers reach mass audiences at lower prices through display advertising, but campaign performance has lagged due to the lack of targeting and measurement capabilities.

The emergence of "data onlining" systems allows advertisers to bring the same targeted and measurable offline marketing techniques to the online world.

Data onlining systems enable marketers to map offline CRM files into their online audience database. Marketers can pass their CRM files of postal addresses and email addresses, along with customer segmentation data, to a data onlining system. The data onlining system then matches the offline segmentation data to anonymous browser cookies, and passes these cookies into the marketers' existing data management platforms (DMPs) or ad networks. This technique of "onlining" data allows marketers to come full circle in leveraging decades of investment in offline customer segmentation in the online world.

As a result, CRM marketers can conduct targeted marketing campaigns in the online world that leverage offline databases. This provides two clear improvements upon the traditional batch-and-blast online marketing campaigns.


Traditional online retargeting is done by serving ads to Web users who visited a company's website but did not purchase. Retargeting has been proven to be extremely effective, but is limited by the number of users who visit a site. To grow that audience scale, marketers can include offline customers who receive their catalog or buy in store. In order to accomplish this, marketers need to map their offline file online into anonymous browser cookies through a data onlining system, and then pass that cookie-based data to a retargeting network or DMP. Information in a marketer's offline CRM file, such as purchase history and catalog subscription data, provides an additional available audience for a marketer to reach online. Additionally, offline data can provide unique insight into a customer's buying preferences. Adding that data to retargeting audience profiles can help further increase conversion rate because marketing will be more relevant and targeted. Packaged with traditional retargeting techniques, mapping offline data online for retargeting purposes allows a marketer to gain increased audience scale and deeper audience insight, which leads to better performance.

Customer acquisition

A second benefit of bringing offline data online is improving online customer acquisition efforts. Through the use of "look-a-likes," marketers can reach beyond their existing customer base in an equally precise fashion based on insights derived from offline customer behaviors that have been mapped online. Through ad networks and DMPs, marketers can access anonymous cookies on browsers across the Web and serve up ads. Ads can be targeted at specific "lists" of these cookies that fit a marketer's target audience. When marketers brings their offline CRM file online, they can build "look-a-like" cookie lists that match to the marketers' offline customer profile. As a result, marketers are able to conduct more targeted marketing campaigns online, and improve performance and business results.

Online advertising is quickly emerging as a data-driven ecosystem. Marketers that take advantage of their rich first-party data sets, including offline data, will succeed online. Traditional retailers and direct marketers are working with data onlining systems to bring offline databases and online audiences into a unified view that respects consumer privacy while enabling the marketer to improve retargeting and customer acquisition. Marketers should work with an experienced data onlining system to bring their offline consumer data online and realize the true potential of their data gold mine.