The verdict is in: The more you analyze your customer data, the better chance you have of outperforming your business rivals, attracting new prospects and providing excellent service. For example, a report by McKinsey & Company has good news for companies who are "intensive users of customer analytics:" Their chances of excelling at new customer acquisition and being highly profitable are 23 and 19 times more likely, respectively, than those of their competitors.

So how do you get started with customer analytics? It all begins with customer data ingestion. In this article, we’ll go over what customer data ingestion is, how to perform customer data ingestion and how it helps your business.

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Table of Contents

What is Customer Data Ingestion?

Before we offer a definition for customer data ingestion, we need to define the two underlying concepts:

Customer data is information about the customers (and potential customers) who patronize your business. Customer data usually breaks down into four categories: demographic (e.g., age, income, and education); psychographics (e.g., values, beliefs, and personality traits); geographic (e.g., city, region, and country); and behavioral (e.g., purchasing and browsing habits).

Data ingestion is the process of moving data from one or more source locations to a target location optimized for in-depth analysis. Data ingestion is similar to, but distinct from, the ETL (extract, transform, load) process. Briefly, ETL follows a strict progression that includes an intermediate data transformation stage, whereas data ingestion may or may not include transformations.

Thus, customer data ingestion is nothing more than the ingestion of customer data: migrating your customer data from its source location (such as a customer data platform) to a destination (usually a centralized data repository such as a data warehouse or data lake).

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How to Ingest Customer Data

By ingesting customer data and storing it in a centralized location, it’s much easier to get a customer 360 view of your clients and prospective clients. But how do you ingest customer data in the first place?

For starters, any nontrivial use of customer data will require an automated customer data ingestion tool. Enterprise data is simply too large, too diverse, and generates too quickly to be performed manually at scale.

Before starting the customer data ingestion process, you need to decide which data to ingest, how often to ingest it, and whether you will perform any data transformations between the source and destination. You also need to decide whether you want to perform batch data ingestion or real-time (streaming) data ingestion. Whereas batch data ingestion occurs only at regularly scheduled intervals, real-time data ingestion moves data as soon as it becomes available, enabling quicker analyses and insights.

Finally, you should understand how your customer data ingestion processes will support your broader goals as an organization. Before getting started, define the metrics and aims by which you will judge the success of your data ingestion efforts. Do you want to increase customer retention rates, perhaps, or improve your Net Promoter Score? These objectives and more are possible through better customer analytics facilitated by rapid, scalable, effective customer data ingestion.

Related Reading: 5 Customer Data Integration Best Practices

How Xplenty Can Help with Customer Data Ingestion

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We’ve gone over what customer data ingestion is and how it works — but there’s still one question left: how can you perform customer data ingestion yourself? For many businesses, the answer lies in an automated data ingestion solution like Xplenty.

Xplenty is a powerful, feature-rich ETL and data integration platform for ingesting data into your cloud data warehouse. With more than 100 pre-built connectors — including popular customer data sources such as Salesforce, Marketo, NetSuite, HubSpot, and Zendesk — and a simple drag-and-drop interface, Xplenty makes it easy for anyone to build robust, enterprise-grade data pipelines, regardless of technical skill or background.

Here at Xplenty, our team of data experts stands ready to help with your customer data ingestion needs. Contact us today to learn how Xplenty can help transform your business or to begin your 14-day pilot.