What Is Data Onboarding In Business?

Last updated on November 25th, 2022

I know that a lot of business owners who regularly read this blog either run and own or want to start their own online business. However, I’m also aware that some regulars also have businesses in the ‘real world’ – like stores or health practices. 

So, I thought it would be a great idea to cover something that affects these businesses – data onboarding (see also, ‘The 4 Phases of the Employee Onboarding Process‘). 

What Is Data Onboarding In Business?

Data onboarding is something that is applicable to businesses who have ‘real world’ businesses and want to build their presence online. Here, I am going to share all my knowledge on data onboarding (see also ‘Best Small Business Onboarding Software‘) to help clear up any confusion or misunderstandings you may have with this topic. 

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What Is Data Onboarding?

First, what exactly is data onboarding? 

Data onboarding is taking data from your customers in real life and putting it onto your online platform. This kind of data can be anything from their email address to their answers to a survey they completed in person.

Data onboarding involves taking that data and transferring it to a Customer Data Platform (CDP). There, the information is unified to data collected from the customer online to create a more in-depth customer profile. 

It’s a technique usually used for marketing purposes, and it’s gained a lot of popularity in recent years. 

According to the 2022 Global Annual Marketing Report from Nielsen’s, there has been a shift in marketing strategies used by businesses to focus more on connecting with audiences, guarding their data, and providing individual marketing campaigns tailored for each person.

This means that customer data has become literal gold to businesses as the more data you have, the easier it is to target individuals with your marketing.

According to a report from Skynova, 86% of businesses collect data from their customers.

Most businesses use online sources to gather customer data including social media websites like Facebook (34%), business website visits (32%), Google reviews (25%), and online marketing analytics (22%). But what about offline customer data? 

This is where data onboarding comes in. It’s the process of retrieving information from your customers in real life and moving it online so you can add it to their customer profile.

This helps businesses keep all of their customer data in one convenient place to refer to when it’s time to make personalized advertising campaigns (see also, ‘How to Get into Advertising‘). 

My Data Onboarding Process

Here is the process I follow for data onboarding. It’s worth mentioning that this process is a pretty generic one that most marketers follow but it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of deal.

You may find certain things need to be different for you – and that’s fine! Always work with the process that best suits you. 

With that said, this is the best data onboarding process that works for me. 

Step One: Collection

The first step is collecting data. Many business owners assume that this step would be the trickiest but in reality, a lot more customers are happy to handover personal data than you may originally think! 

According to a report from Adlucent, only 44% of consumers are willing to provide brands with their personal information.

However, this question was asked in regard to personal advertising – but there are other ways to get customers to hand over their data. Customers may prefer to have emailed receipts rather than paper ones, or use their data to book appointments if you run a health or beauty practice. 

In the past, offering loyalty schemes or ‘customer clubs’ has also helped me collect customer data successfully. You don’t have to use the same strategies, but there are plenty of different ways you can convince customers to give you their data. 

Step Two: Upload Data To A CDP

Once I have collected my offline customer data, I upload it to my CDP. 

This step can be really long and tiring but trying to rush through can only lead to mistakes such as invalid inputs, mismatched data, and more. I am usually all about efficiency but in this case, going slow and steady reduces the chances of mistakes. 

From there, the CDP automatically looks to match the data I have uploaded to existing online data. This is done by using identifiers such as names, phone numbers (see also, ‘What is a Neutral Tandem VoIP number?‘), or email addresses. 

The end product will be a CDP that stores my customer’s data and information.

Step Three: Marketing 

I primarily use my CPD as a place for storing my customer data and for analytics purposes, but I also use it as a data activation tool. This helps me make informed decisions for targeted marketing campaigns through emails or online ads. 

Unfortunately, only 42% of businesses realize the full potential of data onboarding and CDPs.

This means that most businesses are not using their CPDs to help improve their customer’s experiences by introducing targeted campaigns. Instead, most businesses simply use CPDs as a depository for their customer data. What a waste of potential! 

What I Think Makes A Great CPD?

There are over 160 CDP companies in the world as of 2022. This means that if you are looking for a good CPD platform to use, you are spoilt for choice. The downside to this is that it can be difficult to narrow down your options. 

While I’m not going to be recommending specific CDP companies to you, here are some areas worth keeping in mind when looking at your CDP options: 

  • Speed – Like I mentioned before, I am all about efficiency and I want fast upload matches so I can move onto the next step in my data onboarding process quickly. 
  • Accuracy – Some CPDs use a lot of probability when matching matches between offline and online data so it’s important to look at accuracy in match rates when looking for the best CPD company. 
  • Control – I like to have control over the tools and softwares I use for my analytics, plus it’s my duty to keep as much of my customer’s data as safe as possible. So, I always look for a CPD which gives me full ownership of the customer data I have onboarded.
  • Transparency – When it comes to other online data for my customer profiles, I like full transparency so I know how it was collected. This helps make tracking performances a lot easier and allows me to make more accurate strategies. 

Final Thoughts

So, data onboarding is when a business transfers offline customer data to an online platform. There, it can be combined with matching online data for a customer profile featuring their information and spending habits. 

As a result, businesses (like mine) can use that data to make personalized advertising campaigns which, according to the statistics mentioned earlier, is generally preferred by consumers. 

Overall, I love to use data onboarding as it helps me create more targeted marketing campaigns which can help me boost my businesses revenues.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that data onboarding is right for you and your business. Check out the information above again and have a think about whether or not this marketing technique works for you. 


By Ramunas Berkmanas

As a full-stack marketer, I have been actively involved in the digital marketing industry since 2014. Over the years, I have gained extensive experience in various areas such as SEO, media buying, and performance marketing. Read my story

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