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Everything You Need to Know About Data Onboarding

by Brenna Dilger, on January 12, 2022

Data onboarding is a foundational step in an organization’s marketing strategy that allows companies to use offline data in order to find and target customers online. It also elevates a company’s marketing and advertising initiatives by connecting offline and online data. But what exactly is data onboarding, why is it so important, and how do you begin? 

What is data onboarding? 

Data onboarding is the process of transferring offline data to an online environment. It is mainly used to connect offline customer information with online users. Essentially, you are using personally identifiable information (PII) to gather information from offline data to find your customers in the online environment. Data onboarding generally involves the following three steps:

1. Upload

First, a company’s offline, first-party data is anonymized through a hashing process to remove personally identifiable information (PII). Offline data can include customer names, emails, phone numbers, postal addresses, etc. Anonymizing PII is crucial to protect the privacy of the customer and creates an actionable anonymous identifier that connects the customer to the data without violating privacy rights. The data is then uploaded to an onboarder’s platform. 

2. Match

Customer data is matched with online identifiers and device IDs. The step of matching offline and online data devices can include mobile device IDs or desktop browser cookies. For example, postal addresses or email addresses collected offline could be used to identify a match to a Digital ID, such as a Facebook or Twitter account. 

3. Activate

Matched data can then be sent to online databases and connected to an online audience, which can subsequently be used for online segments to display ads.

Why is data onboarding Important?

When data is connected across applications, it creates more opportunities and insights that allow companies to increase efficiency and accuracy when targeting customers. It also improves communication and coordination across your organization. It’s an all-around essential step in discovering and identifying with your customer base.

Data onboarding makes it possible to analyze the impact of online ads in offline sales, examine purchase behavior across devices, and implement identity-based strategies to make and maintain conversions. This kind of analysis and execution is made possible by connecting data from your purchasing systems to marketing applications that are responsible for online advertising and attribution. 

It’s possible to reach more consumers who resemble your best customers and target current customers more efficiently based on purchase history. A company’s data onboarding proficiencies can make the difference between exciting customers with the experiences they want or annoying them with messages they will ignore. 

Choosing a data onboarding service provider 

While data onboarding is clearly an important service that should be entrusted to a quality service provider, data onboarding services often miss the mark. They can take up to two weeks to deliver results, require steep purchase minimums, and involve extensive back-and-forth communication with an onboarding broker. 

Our solution to fast and efficient data onboarding is called Universal Onboarding, a self-service way to match your offline customer data within minutes. With Narrative, your data onboarding will be:

  • Efficient: Our built-in PII hasher securely encrypts your private customer data before you upload. And with our easy platform-to-platform delivery, you can activate your onboarded data without the need for FTP or writing a line of code. 

  • Accurate: Your data is matched with close accuracy using our top-notch algorithms. You can rest assured that your insights will take you in the right direction.

  • Speedy: Onboarding can take up to 2 weeks to deliver results with most providers. Our five-step onboarding process, which matches digital identifiers from a pool of 1.6 billion IDs in a matter of minutes, is the fastest solution available. 

  • Private: You can access our network of identity data providers to onboard your data quickly and efficiently without sharing your customer information. We also dutifully comply with self-regulatory privacy codes and best practices. 

  • Cost Effective: While many onboarding services charge you for the volume of data you upload (whether you get matches or not), Narrative only charges you for IDs matched. You also will be able to decide exactly how much you spend with custom budget controls.

Once you choose your provider, then what?

Once you’ve selected your data onboarding service provider, it’s time to get your data flowing. Most companies will onboard their entire customer database file to give themselves maximum flexibility. 

However, your company most likely has thousands of attributes in your customer databases. Instead of overwhelming your team with data and segmentation possibilities, it’s generally best to start by augmenting existing customer-targeting initiatives first. Once you’ve perfected existing campaigns, you can start defining new campaigns from scratch using onboarded data, starting with simple segments. 

Data onboarding yields the greatest impact when it’s viewed as a standard part of decision making in your organization. Your organization will gain a competitive advantage by reaching more customers with relevant messages across a fragmented landscape of channels and devices. 

Faster and Better Data Onboarding with Narrative

With Narrative’s Universal Onboarding, you can onboard data faster than ever before without the need of engineering expertise. Match your offline customer data within minutes by using a simple self-service workflow and, best of all, pay only for matched IDs. 

Use Universal Onboarding to quickly enhance offline data assets without any minimums or upfront commitments. Simply upload a file of customer emails to match against hundreds of providers in real time, choose destinations to send your matched results to, and pay only for what you deliver.

Find the Universal Onboarding plan that fits your needs today.

Topics:Narrative Features

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