Roundtable: Inbox success driven by data integration

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KT: Is there a clear line of demarcation on the brand side who owns social vs. e-mail? We're finding as westart working with clients a lot more that trying to integrate them is more difficult, less from a marketing standpoint and more from a silo effect that's happening internally.

JS: Social is owned by our corporate communications group. E-mail obviously is with online marketing. As we move forward, we're definitely working together a lot more. I keep seeing all these industry articles about [how] social should always fall under the e-mail folks, because the e-mail folks have the history in direct communication in the online channel. Unfortunately, what I've seen with us and then with a lot of other companies, is that it's not. Social has kind of gone more the route of PR. The fact that social is housed under corporate communications has allowed our social to have true voices.

PW: We've taken a different approach. Our social network presence started out really as being editorially managed. We recently moved one of our most senior editorial people into our audience marketing group. The former editor-in-chief of EWeek is now working in my group. [She does] outreach in all the social networks to figure out for us what the right code is going to be for us to be successful there. Part of the reason we did that is we started to have our

Web operations people and my marketing people looking at those things, but it tended to be a mechanistic approach. I think what we're learning is that it's a lot more organic process.

DMNews: How are you measuring e-mail campaigns?

ST: When we look at an e-mail campaign, we not only track total delivery, inbox delivery, clicks, but we also take it to conversions. Looking at the life span of the campaign beyond just the e-mail metrics to us was eye-opening. Our most successful campaigns did not prove to be our most profitable campaigns.

KT: One of our clients addresses this challenge in an interesting way. InterContinental Hotels Group measures e-mail effectiveness strictly by engagement.

They measure revenue by customer and let each channel optimize towards maximum performance.

This holistic approach prevents its various marketing channels from competing against each other for revenue and enables email to be the backbone of the customer lifecycle.

PW: A lot of our revenue is driven through lead generation programs and we're sponsoring seminars. It's profitable conversions. I think the particular challenge we have is because each of these things has different sponsors and their different products and there's different content involved, it's very hard to infer what the performance of one campaign is going to be vs. another. We have to look at an enormous amount of data to even get within 30% standard deviation rate of what a campaign is going to do.

DMNews: What are the big challenges to measurement?

SK: I guess there's just no one metric that you can point to and say, “This is our metric that we follow.”

Depending on the campaign, it could be any number of metrics. We typically look at consumption … not only against that product but against our broader content.

DS: I've used a model to determine what prospects to go after. But we've never asked the question, what was it about those customers that brought them in the door in the first place? What was the marketing mix of tactics that got them there? We've looked at scoring prospects in terms of who to go after, but it's intriguing to think about what communications acquisition channels we're using in the very first place.

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