Know Your Customer Well, But Not Too Well

Every business wants to know its customer. So how much knowledge is sufficient?

Bluecore doesn’t believe that knowing everything about a customer is necessary. To this end, Bluecore just launched Bluecore Ads, which can take data from e-mail and catalog sets, synchronize it with personalized ads delivered via Facebook, GoogleAds , and integrate it all into existing marketing and advertising technology.

The goal is to pitch a personalized ad to a likely buyer. To do this, Bluecore gives retail clients more tools to understand their clients, based entirely on data generated by past purchases and web site visits. No outsideinformation is sought or included outside of that relationship.

“There is an arms race for data for data’s sake,” said Max Bennett, vice president of product at Bluecore. “We want more data to answer meaningful questions.”

Retailers want to build one-to- one relationships with online clients, and rely on data to do so. One “holy grail” is the 360-degree customer view, which can give an online retailer knowledge of where a customer is, with the ability to pitch an ad or offer if the opportunity to buy is perceived. “True consumer-360 is not possible and is illegal,” said Bennett.

Bluecore Ads limits itself to “first party data”—basically the information a retailer gathers about a customer, based on their web visit and purchase history. “This enables us to understand what they (the shopper) wants,” Bennett said. “The beauty is that the data answers questions without being creepy.”

This stands in contrast with second-party data–information swapped between two vendors, and third-party data—information gained from other sources. User of third-party data may be shortchanging themselves because they miss first-party data when developing their customer profiles. They are likely to overlook purchase history because they are too busy trying to develop a demographic profile with data from other sources, Bennett explained. First-party data already shows affinity and the propensity to buy, he added.

Bluecore Ads displays customer information on its own instrument panel. Users can break down prospects to show active buyers, non-buyers, at-risk and lost. One can even identify that lucrative 10-percent that does the most shopping at one’s web site. Or even track in-store sales against online sales. Shoppers can be profiled, categorized and compared, with the data indicating likelihood of another based on purchase history, Bennett explained.

Here Bennett draws a distinction between big data and data science. Big data is “a broad definition, sometimes overused,” he said. Gathering a lot of data is merely the first step in the process of gaining a customer insight. Data science, the intermediate step, does the analysis to gain the insight, he noted.

Bluecore Ads is an extension of a previous product, Predictive Audiences, which was applied to e-mail marketing. Bennett would like to extend integration into other platforms to find audiences and push ads, as well as developing more meaningful questions that can sharpen customer histories.

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