Recently, Kate Kaye published an article for AdAge on the increased demand for offline-to-online data technology, which holds great benefits as a digital marketing tool. In the article, she references the slew of acquisitions in the space over the past few months – Google of Adometry, AOL of Convertro, and Acxiom of LiveRamp – indicating the clear value that offline data collection brings to online consumer interactions, targeting, personalization, and ad campaigns. If companies have more insight into their customers’ offline interactions, then they can better tailor online messages, encourage repeat e-transactions and measure the success of online campaigns.

This type of increased data collection should be applauded. Kaye outlines some great examples for how customer data can be used across touchpoints, saying “…companies want to take consumer data from in-store transactions or customer-service call interactions to the web to retain those customers, or entice them to come back and buy again after a year or two without making a purchase [and] data can be matched to email addresses for digitized direct-mail outreach, connected to site-optimization systems to customize web pages based on offline purchases, or dumped into DSPs and ad-targeting systems to aim digital ads at customers.” But simply discussing these opportunities is not enough. As the article alludes, in order to make the effort of data collection worthwhile, companies must be putting that data to good use – a means to an end, if you will – to ensure they can deliver relevant, personalized communications to their customers.

To deliver more successful marketing campaigns, whether that’s on mobile, email, web, in-store, or over on the phone, retailers must understand the value (and act on that value!) of optimizing multi-channel data and get to know each consumer at an individual level. And that’s where retailers are struggling. Many of them are great at collecting consumer data, and often have plenty of it, but when it comes to using that information, the operation falls apart. In fact 49 percent of retailers say they can’t keep up with the new ways consumers are using technology and 42 percent say they can’t keep up with the new ways to engage with consumers.

That’s a problem.

Fortunately, retailers have a couple of options to ensure their data is fully turned on. The first is hiring a marketing scientist and team of support staff who will work to ensure you’re getting the most out of your data collection. As a skilled professional, they’ll combine consumer interactions, data and predictive analytics to personalize each customer communication. But if you’ve read this blog with any regularity, you’ll know skilled marketing scientists aren’t easy to come by, which can make developing an internal team of them challenging. The next option, and likely the most viable, is to partner with a technology company to transform your data collection into actionable insight for relevant consumer messages. The final option is to continue to collect data without using it to its full potential and let competitors steal away customers via more personalized interactions, communications and services. My guess is option number three won’t be at the top of retailers’ strategy lists any time soon.

In a world where the line between online and offline is increasingly blurred, and data collection is at an all-time high, it’s imperative that retailers collect consumer data across as many touchpoints as possible and then put that data to good use. When retailers implement the steps necessary to turn on their omnichannel data and deliver personalized, relevant communications to each individual consumer, they will be able to successfully incent customers, encourage loyalty and increased transactions, and improve revenue.