Data technology crucial to digital marketing

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Participants in the marketing strategy roundtable at the Marketo offices in San Mateo, California
Participants in the marketing strategy roundtable at the Marketo offices in San Mateo, California

Palan: There's a whole other opportunity around these newer channels that is opening up a lot of possibilities. Are you more likely to trust what an advertisement says or what a friend of yours says or somebody who's even a virtual stranger who writes a very thoughtful review on the Internet?

For me, it's definitely the latter, and our studies confirm the same. There's an opportunity to generate a marketing campaign or a strategy around a set of influencers. Once you have this, a set of influencers or a social sales force if you will, then there's a question around why things like Pinterest are becoming very popular. It's because it allows this new paradigm … around discovery models, where people can discover things when they are bored or they don't know what to look for, or to see what their friends are doing, because they want to keep up with the fashion and they want to be able to relate to people they look up to in their social groups.

Morris: Sometimes what you're investing is, for lack of a better term, a certain “geekiness.” Geek is the new black. Marketers now know SQL. We're not just meeting and reviewing creative layouts. If you can leverage the social networks that are out there for person-to-person contact, you get a lot out of that without that spend. Likewise, from your own database, finding more creative ways to segment your customers and build dynamic content on your direct site, as well as through your channels. A lot of that can be done without external spend.

Rector: We look at influencers across kind of a broad spectrum. We are developing a holistic approach. When we talk about print we probably focus less on a paid advertisement and more on the PR aspect, because the trust in a story written in a top-tier print publication … that's an influencer.

Direct Marketing News: How are you using technology and digital channels like social, email, display and mobile to segment?

Billick: We've had a very high penetration of program members. They tell us who they're traveling with. They tell us their preferences. We know where they live, of course. We know a lot of things about them in terms of behavior.

What we try to do is match what we know about them from a profile perspective, from a traditional CRM perspective, and then we also take the time to try to match what we know about them from an influential perspective. We've done some studies with Razorfish … looking at how people look and engage across channels, and how does that apply to their lifetime value, and ultimately try to come up with a new lifetime value which is traditional RFM metrics with social media influence. You can just do influence in terms of ‘I have a loud voice' or you can do influence in terms of 'I have a very trusted voice.' It may not be loud, but it's really trusted. We've done a lot of experiments around that to try to understand our database. We were the first airline to launch the ability to earn points through the Facebook Places and Foursquare check-ins. What we found is people who did that are tremendously high value and have a ton of influence. We get a lot out of that from them sharing to their network with the right incentive.

Direct Marketing News: Are you advertising on Facebook?

Billick: A little bit. It tends to be a fairly expensive channel, so we've been focusing a lot on search lately as more of a distribution channel. We certainly try to balance display.

Direct Marketing News: What about email and mobile?

Billick: Email is tremendously powerful. That's one of the advantages of the frequent flyer programs. It's low cost of entry, so you get a lot of names very quickly, and we have high distribution on our websites. We're able to capture a lot of new members.

Trivunovic: There's tools out there … to identify who are your best customers based on how they're engaging, and what they're doing with your business, and what their lifetime value is.

We've worked with a number of clients where we've been able to help them support programs where they can do a word of mouth program. We can identify then within the program to see who had the most reach, so then ultimately who drove the most conversion, whatever that conversion was. Was it to download a white paper? Was it to buy something or recommend a friend?

Direct Marketing News: How are you currently generating leads?

Smith: It's really different for b-to-b and consumer. Consumer search is still there. [The] Google display network is super-efficient. Facebook can be super-efficient from a consumer standpoint and we will overlay on that a number of targeting technologies that we deploy in combination with a demand side platform, a DSP, to buy exchange inventory that makes sense.

LinkedIn is one of the most effective ways from a b-to-b standpoint to generate leads. I think the lead gen process in b-to-b is kind of broken. The old method of white papers and doing stuff like that really doesn't work as well. There's a big hole right now for somebody to come along in the technology space and use the same kind of tools that we've been using in consumer, and come up with new ideas in lead gen for b-to-b.

Ramos: When you talk about lead generation, it's one thing to be in a $5 million company with seven sales people, and it's another thing to be in a $22 billion company with thousands of salespeople.

We get a majority of our revenue from customers we know. We need to retain those customers and cross sell to those customers, particularly when you bought this whole new side of the business. Now there's all kinds of services for them that they didn't know you for doing before. It's a huge challenge.

When you ask ‘what does the content look like?' ‘what does the marketing mix look like?' and ‘what are you doing in terms of demand generation?' — a lot of that is focused on sales enablement. From the content perspective, some of the most powerful things we do are related to telling customer stories and thought leadership.

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