Q&A: Patrick McLean, VP of digital marketing, Capital One

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Patrick McLean
Patrick McLean

Patrick McLean, VP of digital marketing, Capital One, discusses his company's use of real-time marketing.

Q: What does real-time marketing mean 
for Capital One? 

A: Real-time marketing means that we have to really embrace the opportunity to engage in conversations with our customers rather than the usual broadcast or one-dimensional kind of marketing that is still in display ads and even in more traditional forms of digital marketing. Social and mobile become extremely important. Permission is very important. Saying, 'Hey, I recognize you as one of our customers,' or 
recognizing that someone has asked for more 
information, is an important approach that brands need to take.

Q: What is Capital One doing to make your 
messages more intelligent?

A: We are spending a lot of time thinking about the role that data plays in digital marketing. We are really trying to understand what is the best way to give customers the information they need in order to make an informed decision related to products and services they are interested in.

Q: How are you using social media?

A: We are heavily invested in building a social media community and our 'Like' base. This includes a FarmVille environment that resulted in a growing our 'Like' base to 1.5-plus million customers. That database is an important asset moving forward because that is a customer base that has expressed interest in us. We have 
customers and prospects in that community. That becomes a mechanism for us to react with them in real-time.

We have a couple of big product launches coming out and we have developed a substantial amount of that work in social. We are moving away from our reliance on direct mail and we are extending what we are doing with TV and broadcast into social. We've shifted investment and a significant portion of that effort is now in social. As we think of the demand generation message that we are trying to get across, the message is in social, which is new for us.

Q: How are you using data to make your 
messages real-time?

A: We are using x +1's platform and our own internal platforms to be able to track what is happening in digital and working with agency partners to better tie people who are exposed to broadcast into social. That is still a learning thing, we haven't cracked the code on that but it will clearly become important in the future. We used to track direct attribution of sales and new accounts from each component of our media plan, and now we are beginning the process of modeling holistically. Attribution is an incredibly complex conversation to have. The evolution 
of attribution modeling is an industry-wide 
challenge that we need to address.

Q: How has consumer expectation changed your approach to marketing?

A: Consumers are more and more gravitating to tools and content that are more relevant to them. What I have found as a marketer is the more relevant you make the experience for customers — the more tools and content that you provide for them that is specifically tailored to their own persona and their own demographic — the 
better they covert and interact with you and your brand. The metric of time spent with your brand goes up, as does the efficiency with which people make their decisions.

Q: How do you expect real-time marketing to evolve over the coming year?

A: There is going to be an explosion of mobile marketing; we are already starting to see it. The relevancy question becomes more crucial when you add portable devices and geotargeting to it. One of the next opportunities is not just to 
interact with people in audiences that make sense, but also wherever they are and on 
whatever device they are using. 

Q: How do you address privacy?

A: We are a regulated industry. It is an important principle for us to respect a customer's privacy. If you are interacting with us on the site, we adhere to the strictest guidelines from the financial services standpoint and from the Interactive Advertising Bureau's standpoint.

Q: What are you expecting to see at the show?

A: The show is going to be incredibility 
energizing for people who want the latest 
trends in real-time marketing. The speed at which technology and consumer behavior are changing is incredible. To be at the show and feel everybody's energy and passion for making 
this happen is something not to be missed. 

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