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. 

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