Single Supporter View: the marketer’s holy grail just got holier

July 20, 2017 News, News & Opinion, Opinion

The Holy Grail: drinking vessel of legend, giver of miraculous powers (eternal youth, infinite sustenance, guaranteed happiness, take your pick). It is also, we are assured through centuries of myth and mystery, very, very hard to find.

Which is why, when more than one fundraising marketer is gathered together and the subject of the Single Supporter View arises, the Grail metaphor is often wheeled into action.

But suddenly, with the spectre of data regulations looming (and putting aside the marketer’s immediate knee-jerk reaction of annoyance at not being able to contact ‘their’ customers), there is a dawning realisation that it could be time to don the clanky armour, mount those horses and go and have one last proper look for the SSV.

What’s so legendary about a Single Supporter (or Customer) view?

Many have set off on the quest but failed – perhaps due to internal politics, the lack of time, the size of the task or simply the cost. Only a very few organisations would honestly claim to have a fully-functioning and effective Single Supporter View in place.

But the 360-degree view that an SSV delivers is vitally important. Firstly, and probably most pragmatically, it provides the framework and systems to handle the personal data requirements that will become mandatory with the introduction of GDPR in May 2018 –potentially saving an organisation from swingeing ICO fines. More importantly for the longer-term development of supporter relationships, SSV plays a critical role in optimising their brand experience. With the right permissions in place, an SSV will give you a more trusted position in their decision-making process… which will potentially tip the balance in more transactions with you, in turn making them more loyal to you (as evidenced by many academic studies *).

What does an SSV do?

Put simply, it brings crucial organisational data into one place so you can gain that 360-degree view of your customer. This provides the basis for insights of greater depth and more relevance, helping marketers deliver a more informed experience for their customers. So it’s easy to see why people want one. But as we’ve said, it’s often been impossible to achieve, not least due to organisational inertia.

Why is the marketers ‘Holy Grail’ more relevant than ever?
  • Today’s constantly increasing data flows require faster, more effective, more automated systems to manage them. An SSV improves the supporter experience across an entire organisation.
  • Incoming data regulations (and it’s too late to stop them now) mean organisations HAVE to do something – or risk facing crippling fines. This in turn means that the Single Supporter View is no longer just another item on the marketing department’s wish-list. There needs to be organisation-wide momentum towards an SSV.
  • For marketers, this is a bittersweet moment: on one hand they may lose customers and they may have to update communications strategies. But with the right customer permissions, they will know more about them, and therefore be able to build trust, loyalty and ultimately value for the organisation.
  • From a GDPR perspective, an effective SSV will deliver a single source of truth for permissions. For example, where an individual has recorded different permissions on multiple systems within the same organisation, the SSV makes it easy to manage and update those preferences.
So HOW do you actually create an SSV – why is it so difficult?

Provided that care is taken to design the right system for an organisation’s structure and its needs, creating a good SSV need not be ‘difficult’, though it may be complex. Failed SSV quests are often simply down to poor planning. Without going into tortuous detail (and we could, believe us), the key steps to SSV heaven include:

  • Identify all the different data sources to be used, and their hosting locations
  • Define data feeds from each to a common data processing environment
  • It’s crucial to create robust match keys, so work with a really good company that has a proven track record. Consider each element of match keys to be used and whether they are suitable to be used alone or require bolstering with additional data elements (eg, shared email addresses)
  • Evaluate contributing data sources, data quality and reliability in order to define the business rules for the creation of the master record
  • Assign (and importantly) persist the resulting allocated master ID
Tips for success in the real-life SSV quest

There’s more than one way to develop an SSV. Balance your required outcome against the available budget to home in on the best mix of complexity and software. The purpose and, ultimately, the outcome are all aiming for the same thing, but bigger budgets usually allow for finer levels of matching, more sophisticated software and more up-front data investigations.

For the more budget-conscious, effective SSVs can be produced using black-box style applications, but organisations will need to accept less intricate control over the matching algorithms as a pay-off. In truth, the required end goal will usually dictate the most suitable methodology anyway. An SSV for a database migration and repopulation, for example, ought to demand a higher level of diligence as an important one-off process that (once the legacy systems have disappeared) can’t easily be revisited.

Wood for Trees works with a range of clients to establish and maintain solutions across the full breadth of possibilities. We’ve created regular black-box style processes for simple analysis and campaign management; equally, we’ve planned, designed and implemented the full consolidation of entire disparate databases for major organisations into a common environment, through database merge and mastering for one-off database migrations. In each case the solution focuses on what can be delivered in the best way with the budget available.

So before you get the WD40 out to freshen up that squeaky armour, download our SSV overview paper on the Wood for Trees website, or visit our SSV page here. Or simply give us a call and we’ll gladly join your merry band. Pass the coconut shells…


Matthew Tamea
Solutions Director, Wood for Trees


*  We can supply many references – contact us if you’re interested. Here are just a couple:

Customer Data: Designing for Transparency and Trust   Harvard Business Review, May 2015

The Value of Our Digital Identity   Boston Consulting Group, 2012