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Get the most out of integrated databases

Most marketers gather a wealth of information from all customer touchpoints, which enables them to help target offers more effectively. Experts discuss the best ways to combine and leverage customer data.

Elissa Tomasetti
VP of marketing, Financial Times

A single view of your customers is a mecca for marketers in an integrated media company. The Financial Times has made great strides toward this goal in recent years. Though complete achievement of the goal is elusive, committing to the journey has proved a rewarding way to create new audiences and revenue streams.

We have found that a centralized, in-house marketing database offers the synergies needed. Within the database, the FT hosts newspaper subscribers, online registered users, online subscribers, conference registrants and customers of other FT products.

The database has allowed FT marketers a range of opportunities, from up-selling and cross-selling to our most valuable customers, to identifying customer sub-sets for developing new products. Recently, we successfully offered Latin American customers and prospects a new, combination subscription to both FT.com premium and the electronic edition of the Financial Times.

Additionally, recognizing user behavior found within our online log data, as measured by the analytics tool Site Intelligence, can be matched with data subsets to identify new consumer and advertiser revenue opportunities. An example of a powerful program using this technique is the FT.com propensity model, which has allowed us to improve subscription acquisitions by 63%.

As the media industry has struggled in recent years from recession into recovery, the integrated marketing approach has been one of the Financial Times key strategies for growing customer revenues and reducing reliance on advertising. This strategy has proven valuable. Print circulation remains strong at 401,286 worldwide (Audit Bureau of Circulations, March 2010), while FT.com enjoys more than 2 million registered users and 126,281 digital subscribers. These figures combined create a total average daily readership of 1.9 million worldwide (Pricewaterhouse Coopers audited figures, November 2009).

The Takeaway
Creating a single view of your customer will allow for better targeting

Jose Cebrian

Group director, multichannel marketing services, Acxiom

There’s a lot of marketing noise out there, but most is wasted spend. Marketers want to be heroes, and CFOs want better top- and bottom-line contributions from marketing. Maximizing each interaction with a prospect or customer means evolving databases and tactics to provide the right offer in the channel where the customer is present. Marketers can’t do this without first bringing online and offline data together.

As someone who works with databases managed at Acxiom, at client sites and at other top marketing services companies, I’m able to witness what makes some companies’ marketing more efficient than others. One of the keys is a 360-degree view of customers, providing the ability to identify when different accounts, purchases and actions are made by the same person, regardless of channel. Without this ability to understand your entire relationship with the customer, you cannot model or target with certainty.

It’s important to consider how you are going to use the data before developing a feed to bring it into your marketing database. While offline data strategies have been set for some time, online data provide additional challenges, especially in the sheer volume generated by e-mail, web analytics and social data. Companies do themselves a great service when they don’t bring it all in “just because they can.” Logical data structures need to support the many relationships between e-mail addresses and social connections, for example. Analyzing e-mail the same way you did it 2003 likely won’t do today.

Integrated data needs to be actionable for the whole enterprise. Hardware and supporting processes should feed all customer touchpoints (marketing, e-mail service provider, website, customer service) with portrait snapshots and next-best-offer information. With the data together, you will understand your customers and prospects better, your models will be better, and you will target and reach with certainty.

The Takeaway
Be sure you have a set plan before bringing information into your database

Sal Pecoraro

VP of database marketing solutions, Infogroup

While managing individual channels is relatively easy, combining insights from multiple channels into a comprehensive picture of your customers can be difficult. The payoff is the ability to deliver the right offer at the right time through the right channel.

Building a complete view of your customers begins with the data you have, such as addresses, e-mail addresses and response data from both offline and online marketing efforts. Adding demographic and lifestyle data such as home value, average household income, presence of children (and how many) makes the picture even more complete. Many marketers stop there. Smart marketers, however, are gaining further insights by adding presence on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and behavioral and modeled data to obtain a more complete view of their customers. Together, these data help marketers understand not only who their customers are, but where, when, and how to engage them with specific offers.

Once you have this whole picture, analyzing current customer characteristics against prospective customers creates better, more targeted online and offline campaigns. For example, the key characteristics of your best customers enables more targeted and compelling online display advertising campaigns, social media activities and pay-per-click keyword selection.

With more and more data on more and more customers, patterns and trends can be spotted early and acted upon. For example, someone who registers online with your company can be compared with your existing customer database and put into a prioritized order for telesales follow-up.

Ultimately, success lies in measurement and continuous targeting and offer refinement. Once you start moving down the path of true cross-channel marketing, you begin to be able to increase your ability to segment your customers and more narrowly focus specific offers to specific individuals.

As you measure the success of your tactics, you begin to gain insights in what offers and messages resonate with which type of customer. This insight should inform future campaigns.

The Takeaway
Look for trends in behavior to refine your follow-up with customers

Dino Michetti

GM and VP of client services, Epsilon

Marketers face a daunting task of integrating online and offline customer data to create a complete view of their customers. Despite the challenge, it is a necessary process in order to execute successful marketing initiatives.

Each individual customer engages across multiple channels, and has expectations about the way a brand interacts back to them in each of these channels. Marketers need to aggregate as much data as possible in all marketing media, and use that data in real time to personalize the experience across all channels.

Using customer data integration tools, marketers can merge their online and offline data to get better insight into their customers. They will want to ensure that the data, which may be disparate because it’s coming from a wide variety of sources, is clean, consistent and actionable. By merging data resources such as demographics, customer activity including past purchase behavior, stated preferences such as channel preferences, preferred day and time of contact, and more, marketers not only have a full view of their customer but they also can develop in-depth personas – or categories assigned to customers that share attributes. This opens the door to all kinds of opportunities including modeling and deep analytics.

With the technology currently available, it truly is a marketer’s utopia. Real-time marketing tools and automation allow both data and the marketing messages they trigger to be managed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As customers engage in any channel, data can be pulled into a virtual data warehouse, and we can immediately apply advanced analytics, real-time standardization, and demographic overlays and create a complete, 360-degree view of the individual.

Once we have all of the data at our fingertips, the real fun begins. Marketing strategies can be developed and tested to enable us to communicate effectively with the right media mix to optimize customer cadence. These communications can feature targeted offers and personalized messages, all in real-time with highly measurable results.

The Takeaway
Today’s technology allows for real-time marketing and better data automation

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