Data integration a must for real-time marketing

Share this article:
Data integration a must for real-time marketing
Data integration a must for real-time marketing

To create relevant messaging using cross channel marketing requires the integration of data across channels, but this integration can be a challenge. Marketing is often organized in different departments across companies, creating silos of data that don't meet. Brands with scattered data also risk over messaging. In addition, digital and traditional media offer distinct sets of data at different times in the marketing process, which adds to the challenge of managing cross channel data. 


Direct Marketing News convened a diverse group of database marketing executives in June for an editorial roundtable discussion, sponsored by Infogroup, to talk about several facets of cross channel marketing strategy. The group discussed issues around data integration, data security and CRM strategies, as well as the challenges of integrating data, the importance of relevant messaging and impending legislation affecting privacy and data collection. 


Direct Marketing News: What challenges do you face when integrating the data you collect from different marketing channels?


Dan Sherr (Valassis Communications): The challenge from our side is that the physical or traditional media has response times that are extraordinarily long. For example, if I'm running a print campaign for a major retailer and we are underperforming, I'm 12 to 15 weeks out from when I can fix it. I've got to reset creative, reset the channel, and figure out what the new targeting plan is. 


The beauty of digital is that response times are nanoseconds. If you can figure out how to get the slow stuff to make the message broad and readily available, and you can figure out how to get the digital stuff to have a rapid response with quick reads, you can have a much more targeted message. 


Carrie Nelson (Infogroup): The challenge is you have to be able to deliver it in real-time. Why do clients want it in real-time? Because as they're seeing email campaigns not perform, or SMS or mobile campaigns not perform, they want to change them immediately. You have to be able to take the data that's happening, bring it in, and marry it with existing data. What I hear from clients is how do I really marry it up, so that I can find out who these Carrie Nelsons are that fall in this category so I can make my next campaign better? It's about bringing it all together. 


JoAnne Dunn (Alliant Cooperative Data Solutions): The online data that's being created is just out of control. That's why you see companies like IBM Corp. and others creating stacks of companies, so they can figure out how to harness this data. I don't think anybody is really there yet.


Sherr: We have more data than we can possibly use. The IT side of the house has been challenged to build dashboards to give us trickle feeds that are updated every 15 minutes. But our IT is getting smarter and asking the fundamental questions about what we are going to do with this stuff. We've got a whole truckload of data, and they can spoon feed it to you or give it to you as a whole truckload.


Todd Russell (Signature Advertising): There are so many new and great tools out there that people are often confused. We find our clients wondering which direction to go. A lot of our clients still don't truly understand what CRM is and what it was meant to do.


Direct Marketing News: CRM?


Russell: Yes, CRM. One group might be using it. Another group might be in a wrap-up phase. Another group is abstaining and so on. Then data could be living on hard drives and Outlook, and Excel within the CRM, so I think there stems this problem. A lot of times, we find ourselves needing to back up and just simplify the programs and focus on one thing at a time. Engagement is the name of the game right now. You have to get the conversation started.


Nelson: I've seen multi-billion dollar organizations fail. Why do they fail? A lot of those organizations have different areas of the business that have separate profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. One P&L owner says "I want this company that I work with that has this set of tools, and another one has this set of tools and another one has this set of tools." Each set of tools does some great things, but not one of them does everything. An organization can spend millions of dollars in data tools and technology in silos. I see it in financial institutions where they are spending in excess of 
$20 million among data tools, analytics and technology. You do have an opportunity to bring it together. 


Direct Marketing News: How is digital affecting traditional channels like direct mail?

Yuri Wurmser (Direct Marketing Association): The type of direct mail that people are doing is changing. We're seeing fewer people doing general broadcasting mailings based on impressions, and more stuff with keyword codes. The result is you're seeing a fairly steady level of direct mail. While the number of direct mailings going out are about the same, the composition of it has changed quite a bit.


Dunn: Over the last few years, direct mail has been much more focused on acquisition and less on retention. The acquisition is often tied with email either before or after, which provides a nice lift to traditional direct mail in acquiring new customers. Once they have them, they're able to cross-sell and upsell through more digital channels. It's really a cross-channel play. 


Direct Marketing News: How does this affect the ROI?

Dunn: Hopefully, the ROI is better because we're being smarter about it. We're marketing more relevantly to the right consumers, with the right product, and the right message in a more timely way, because we know more. But we're still learning. CRM as we knew it in the offline world was a lot more simple. It's still taking a lot of companies a long time to get their data un-siloed and to be able to do CRM across channels. 


With all these new channels, there's a tremendous lack of focus because we're trying so many new things. We're seeing a more stable direct mail environment in acquisition and learning how to leverage the new channels to keep those customers in the pipeline.


Nelson: I think one of the things that we're seeing is that those that really shifted heavily to digital are coming back and doing more direct mail and a combination of the two. Everybody was doing email and SMS and not seeing as high an ROI. We find ourselves talking to our clients about a multi-touch strategy.


Steve Shapiro (Kyp): You may want to test your messaging or your program against an audience — you can do it geographically or even demographically. For Martha Stewart, we took their direct mail piece, and put it on a disk, and put some videos on there. Who better to sell Martha Stewart than Martha Stewart? 


If people opted in, we could tell where they went on the disk and what their favorite area of that direct mail piece was. They spent most of their time on the recipe section. Then the second was the home decor thing. What the client was able to do was learn the most compelling part of their direct mail piece, and they could match-mail it by ZIP code. 


Dunn: You may be able to gather all your data on your particular discipline, but Martha Stewart's out there touching millions upon millions of consumers in a variety of different ways across all sorts of channels. How does a company like Martha Stewart then create a unified view of a consumer across all those channels? That's the challenge.


Shapiro: Martha Stewart tracked it against their other traditional methods. Then they compared the aggregate results. At the end of the day, for them, it is about how many subscriptions they sold. They learned what they needed to learn from it so that they could make their decision going forward. 


I'm tracking the message that the advertiser put in play and how consumers engage it. I've taken the consumer on a journey to the brand's website. Now it's up to the brand to have a compelling landing page to get the consumer the rest of the way through the journey. We're like a taxi. We took the consumer to the 
meeting and now that they're there, the brand then engages them with some dynamic content, giving consumers the tools to connect.


Direct Marketing News: How do you avoid the consumer being bombarded with too much messaging?

Dunn: I don't think we are. Look at your inbox. I am astonished at how many times I get email messages from the same company. 


Shapiro: With all due respect to my friends at the DMA, every day I get multiple emails from them, all about things that they feel are very important. So what happens is that people are only opening single-digit percentages of emails. 


Dunn: Just like direct mail. Remember 2% used to be a big win? 


Wurmser: One of the biggest challenges is figuring out the mix and how to marry all the data back in. I think the future of integration is how to integrate all the data and then integrate it across messages. We just did a survey a few weeks ago and the biggest challenge was not so much integrating the messages or integrating the channels; it was integrating the data behind it. 


Russell: I was involved in a recent pitch with a major car rental company. We went and downloaded their app, and it was probably four seasons behind where it should have been. In this case, it was focused on Halloween and it was closer to Easter, so that is a major error. Right out of the gate, it's not relevant.


If we're not focused on the mark in that area, that particular customer or potential customer is lost. It's not just the people we know that are engaged and active, but those that are sitting idle. We need to nurture that and bring them through the channel, then continue to help them along with relevant messaging. 


Dunn: As marketers, we have to be accountable for how we message consumers because it's our job to send them relevant messaging. Consumers want relevant messaging or they feel like it's waste. It's at a white-hot level in the legislative phase in terms of how consumers' data and privacy is being impacted by marketing. We have to be responsible for how we use the data and how often and how relevantly we message consumers. 


Direct Marketing News: What do you think about all these recent data breaches? That's got to be weighing particularly on your mind as a data provider.

Sherr: My sense is that the provider side of the market really only has a modest contribution to make to that process. Other than being able to provide reference once it's been breached, I'm not sure the provider side of the house can contribute very much in that arena.


Direct Marketing News: Is it up to the client?

Dunn: I would disagree. When you have consumer data, you are accountable for that data. You need to operate with best practices. After the Epsilon breach, I had a couple of customers reach out to me to say they needed to make sure they shore up their internal security standards, and asked what I recommended. I sent them right to the DMA's website, where there's really overwhelmingly detailed forms on what you need to do internally. This is really perfect for marketers in particular who need to have the right levels of best practices for data handling and data security. 


Sherr: You guys house privileged information? Many of us do not.


Dunn: Name and address is privileged information. It's personally identifiable information, according to the government.



Direct Marketing News: We're talking about collecting all of this data and using it for targeting, but you also have to adhere to privacy laws and keep this information protected. Is this a challenge?

Nelson: The key is having the right people within your organization who are very connected to the DMA and know what's going on in DC. There are things that individually we can do to help. We let our sales people know who those individuals are, and bring those people in to be a voice to help clients. 


Wurmser: Part of the DMA's challenge and really the whole industry's challenge is not just making sure everyone is complying with existing regulations, but to make sure that people are taking these privacy issues seriously, even when regulations don't exist yet. 


You see it with Apple. When Steve Jobs was up there on the stage talking about iCloud, one of the things he kept saying is this is multi-encrypted. I'm not sure if Apple would have done that a few months ago before they had that issue with the iPhone, which had that little tracking chip in there. They were saying if was depersonalized. They didn't consider that would be a major privacy issue. That came back to bite them. Companies are going to have to consider those issues. It's going to have to become more front and center.


Direct Marketing News: Is this going to become another Do Not Call registry?

Dunn: If the pending legislation would require opt-in, then yes, it could. The DMA's position is that we want to continue to develop and build on best practices. In Europe, it's opt-in. The government here would like to see it be opt-in. If it becomes opt-in, it'll be like telemarketing. It's the sales prevention law of all time for us. The legislation would affect the American and global economies significantly. 


Wurmser: If you follow the Do Not Track regulations that the DMA puts out, that is best practice. 


Dunn: We're having a hard time keeping up with it because the market is changing so radically. But a good majority of the DMA members are compliant. It's the non-DMA members who are not complying with best practices that are causing the real issues and creating the kind of headlines that adversely affect the rest of us. The DMA publishes and updates its guidelines and ethical best practices quarterly, and that's kind of the standard they ask all of us to comply with. 


Unlike other organizations who are lobbying groups and trade associations across channels, the DMA is probably the only one that has enforcement. So that kind of helps us keep those best practices in play.


Direct Marketing News: What should marketers keep in mind for cross-channel strategies?

Nelson: We have to step back and ask what the objectives are and what the client is really trying to accomplish. When you think about an integrated, multi-touch type of strategy, if you don't understand what the client needs, then it makes it very difficult to bring all the pieces together. You can certainly try, but where you fail, you'll find it didn't map back to the overall strategy, or we clearly didn't understand it. 


What was it that they were trying to accomplish? Are you trying to do a mobile campaign because you're trying to build a mobile database? If you don't understand what it is that you're after, it makes it difficult to bring all of these pieces together. It's basic fundamentals. You have to go back to what you are trying to accomplish What are the key points? What are the objectives? 


Shapiro: How many million of dollars is spent on social media with no goal? At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, what was the objective. 


Dunn: But that's where the new consumer is. The new consumer wants to buy the way they want to buy. They really don't care about all our messaging. They want it wherever they want it, when they want it.

Share this article:

Sign up to our newsletters

Follow us on Twitter @dmnews

Latest Jobs:

More in Roundtables

Personalized Marketing = Customer-Centric Marketing

Personalized Marketing = Customer-Centric Marketing

The way to profitably engage customers across marketing channels is to get personal.

Marketing's Next Big Move

Marketing's Next Big Move

Reaching the right prospects at the right time is integral to marketing and sales performance. Here's how to shorten the distance between a dream account and a signed account.