Marketing in the digital age can be challenging. Sure, the rise of the web, social media and mobile has made the last decade or so an exciting time to be in the industry: we now have more ways than ever to talk to our customers, understand their needs and take our brands to the next level. The trouble is, their expectations are growing, too.

There’s no longer such thing as an effective one-size-fits-all campaign. Today’s customers respond to marketing that connects with them on a personal level, wherever they are and whatever device they’re using. And because so many of them have been on the web from day one, they’re extremely effective at filtering out brand messages that don’t apply.

This leaves the modern marketer with a lot on their plate. We need to accurately micro-segment our audiences and understand what makes our customers tick. We need to proactively communicate with them across multiple channels. And we need to know which of our efforts are paying off and which need work.

Sounds onerous? It often is. However, with the right mindset and the right tools at your disposal, it’s possible to profoundly simplify your digital marketing plan. Here are three of the most important steps to this end.

1. Bring all of your customer data together in one place

One of the reasons the digital age has been so exciting for marketers is that it’s brought us so many new ways to learn about our customers. We can now listen to their conversations on social media, read their reviews of products and services, and learn how they search, what they read, where they click.

This goldmine of data can help marketers know what their customers want, perhaps even before they know they want it – but only if it can be analysed effectively. You need a tool like Microsoft Power BI, which allows you to bring all of this information together in one place and draw real-time insights from the whole. This so-called 360-degree view of the customer is key to effective digital marketing, but it’s extremely complicated without the right solution at hand.

2. Communicate and collaborate with other teams

Good marketing is all about communicating and collaborating with the rest of the business. Your marketers should know what your sales team are doing, for example, as well as what their problems are and where there’s a need for cross-departmental support. And if they’re working with external agencies, they should treat these at strategic partners – not silos for discrete, tactical campaigns.

This means sharing a wide range of resources – marketing calendars, web analytics, SharePoint – with outside stakeholders, as well as opening up the right channels of communication for them to have their voices heard. Otherwise, it can be much more difficult to stay on-message in all of your marketing collateral.