Better data delivers powerful integration

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Customer data drove a Nets campaign designed to boost renewals among season ticket holders
Customer data drove a Nets campaign designed to boost renewals among season ticket holders

When Teradata, a data warehousing and analytics company, acquired marketing automation provider Aprimo, the line between data and marketing automation companies was further distorted. The December 22, 2010, acquisition followed Oracle's procurement of Market2Lead's intellectual property rights last May and IBM's purchase of Unica Corporation in August — two moves that prompted speculation from industry analysts predicting the continued consolidation of the data and marketing automation software industries.


"Marketing and technology are becoming more intertwined," says David Frankland, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research. "The notion of marketing without technology doesn't make sense today...Big technology companies are putting their money where their mouths are, and it's not just about marketing automation either. Take IBM for example: it acquired Unica, Coremetrics, Netezza. All these acquisitions tie together because in order for businesses to interact with customers in real-time, they need technology and services."


The convergence of these two industries makes perfect sense: Marketers try to deliver personalized and relevant direct marketing content to consumers, and companies like Teradata gather the data that makes these campaigns possible. 


A prime example of the two industries aligning is Johnny Rockets restaurant's recent sweepstakes promotion, which was geared toward two important goals: Increasing transactions in its 320 retail locations and building a bigger customer database. 


The promotion featured an in-store and direct mail sweepstakes campaign as part of the restaurant's 25th anniversary celebration. Sweepstakes participants were in the running for a Vespa motor scooter, a Wii Donkey Kong Country Returns game, free food and an all-inclusive vacation at Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts in Jamaica or Antigua. 


Promotions like this are quite familiar — many businesses implement prize initiatives to boost enthusiasm for already-loyal consumers. But what about one-time customers? How can companies learn enough about them to lure them back once the initial transaction has ended? Johnny Rockets launched an additional, more exclusive sweepstakes for an all-inclusive vacation to Jamaica or Antigua to encourage those customers to opt into the company's database. 


"Even if these customers don't come back into our restaurant, we can capture them at home," explains Tim Hackbardt, SVP of marketing at Johnny Rockets. "We're finding today that our guests have multiple ways they like to interact with our brand. We need to find out how and when they like to be messaged." 


While it's too early to tell whether or not Johnny Rockets will be effective in using the newfound 
customer data, the campaign depicts the organic 
reciprocity shared between data and marketing: data feeds into direct marketing campaigns and direct marketing campaigns feed into more data collection, and so on and so on. 


Building the customer profile


Beyond simple nuggets of information like customer name, communication preference and income level, companies are able to collect and gather enough data to construct complex profiles of representative customers, consumer likes/dislikes, purchase history, website navigation patterns, among many other possibilities. Armed with this data, marketers are able to adjust, build, enhance or scrap campaigns that don't meet the company's (and customers') needs. 


"When you combine data with analytics you can create a comprehensive profile of the customer that allows you to make a decision on your marketing message," says Jay Henderson, director of segment management at Unica, a provider of enterprise marketing management software. "[You must] bridge the gap from analysis to action." 


The data collection process for direct marketers represents a change in attitude about how customers are viewed, contends Craig Dempster, CMO at customer relationship marketing company Merkle. 


"Today customers are considered prospects all the way through the sales funnel, even after they become loyal, engaged customers," Dempster says. "A lot of this is being driven by the speed at which you need to act today. In the past, the world was batched. You got data 30 days from now, 90 days from now, but today it's about responding in real-time."


Another major difference in database marketing today is how and where customers receive (and give) information. 


"Consumers are more fragmented in how they receive information," says Ira Haimowitz, SVP and group director of analytics and operations with CementBloc, a healthcare advertising agency. Haimowitz is also the author of the upcoming book Healthcare Relationship Marketing, which will be released in February by Gower Press. "Consumers used to receive information from radio and TV broadcasts. Now information is everywhere: the Internet, on mobile devices and social networks. [At CementBloc] we refer to the patient experience as a journey. And today that journey is multichannel." 


CementBloc handles marketing for pharmaceutical and biotech companies using direct mail, print, broadcast, as well as digital marketing, including search and mobile. Haimowitz says his company gathers typical demographic information, but it also determines which products customers favor, if they've bought from competitors, and their redemption or transactional history. CementBloc also stores information on whether customers have filed rebates for co-pays, how frequently the customer purchases and how people navigate the CementBloc website. Additionally, the company monitors how customers respond to online media and use search engines to find CementBloc products. 


Haimowitz has used Tibco Spotfire analytics software for the last decade to help his company manage this data because, he says, the software makes it easy to explore data sources for trends and outliers.


"Spotfire is great for synthesizing and viewing data in a way that allows people to come to the 'aha' moments," Haimowitz says. 


Colin White, director of demand generation at Tibco Spotfire, says analytics tools give companies with database information the proverbial "two second advantage" — meaning a company that saves just two seconds in understanding and taking action on data could gain an advantage over competitors. 


"There's an explosion of data in every category, in every industry, in every department," White says. "Our clients want tools to make sense of that data to develop, market and sell new products."


Data personalizes 


In the case of the New Jersey Nets, the goal was different: How could the franchise resell a familiar product to existing customers? Hoping to leverage customer information to make season ticket holders renew, the Nets enlisted FanOne Marketing to deliver a multichannel campaign that would consist of three e-mail communications, one postcard and two personalized URLs (PURLs). Each PURL contained relevant, individualized information, such as a photo of the sales rep with which the customer had previously been working, the customer's account number and seat location. The communications also featured an "Add to Outlook" button, a "Renew Online" button and a button to trigger a call from a sales agent.

FanOne worked with conversational marketing technology provider, Neolane, to turn the customer data into actionable results. 


"Because Neolane is so customizable, we could work variable elements into the campaign," says Jen Zick, 
director of strategy and business development at FanOne. "Neolane has virtually limitless fields we 
can add. All that information can be pulled to be part of the PURL." 


The results of the campaign are impressive: The percentage of accounts renewed online rose from 3.8% in 2009 to 11% in 2010. New revenue generated by the campaign was 52 times what the Nets paid FanOne to launch the campaign. PURL open rates were around 50%. What's more impressive is that the campaign occurred after basketball superstar Lebron James decided not to play for the Nets, a shocking blow to a franchise hoping to lure in new fans and keep old ones. FanOne, which originally signed on with the team under a trial agreement, was signed to an 18-month contract after the promotion ended. 


"You need to break through the [marketing] noise and be highly targeted," says Kathleen Greenler Sexton, VP of marketing at ZoomInfo, a database services provider. "It's important for marketers to be relevant and make sure their information is accurate. That means you have to go beyond business card basics and leverage [database] tools." 


Healthcare information solutions provider SK&A worked with ZoomInfo to build a custom database list that it leveraged to build brand awareness in previously untapped markets. SK&A sent targeted e-mail campaigns to more than 20,000 prospects and saw delivery rates of more than 95%, as opposed to 70% delivery rates with SK&A's previous list service. 


Finding the path to activation


Database marketing isn't only about reaching the customer. Sometimes the challenge lies in reaching other marketers within the organization. For AAA Auto Club South, getting customer information into the hands of its employees was at times a month-long process.

"My analytics team had access to 200 data tables and it took too long to answer each of their questions," says Kristin Rahn, director of advanced analytics at AAA Auto Club South.


"We had to join six to 20 tables to answer every single question. What we wanted to do was not only make it easier for my team to be able to answer questions faster but to give marketers the ability to answer the questions themselves." 


Utilizing Portrait Software's self-serve analytics tool, Rahn's team was able to increase the speed of employee queries from two to three weeks to two to three minutes, she says. Customer modeling turnaround time was cut from two to five months to two to eight weeks.


"With Portrait's tool, I don't have to tie up a good resource for five months, and we can create something the business can use much faster," Rahn says. 


At its core, database marketing is about creating familiarity between businesses and consumers, says J. Patrick Bewley, VP of the consulting practice for multichannel marketing strategy at data management and marketing services company Acxiom. Bewley says marketers need to more consistently recognize customers across all touchpoints. This will allow companies to unlock behavioral data to develop a more rounded picture of a customer. Only after a 360-degree customer view is established can marketers accomplish what they've always ultimately tried to do: Earn the customer's trust.


"I grew up in a small town of about 400 people," 
Bewley says. "In that town there was a single store, and a guy named Ellis worked behind the register. Ellis recognized everybody by name. You didn't make it three steps down the aisle before he offered you products you were interested in. Today we're taking [data] technology and we're giving marketers the ability to approximate that small town relationship."

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