Data is at the core of direct marketing. At least it should be. According to a study by CEB, marketers use data for a mere 11% of customer-related decisions. And IBM’s “State of Marketing 2012” study found that 51% of marketers surveyed aren’t using available social data when making decisions about offers and messaging. In the same survey, less than 20% of respondents said they use online data to determine what promotions to offer via traditional channels.
But as marketers work to improve their use of data, they’re faced with such ongoing challenges as data integration, quality, and scope. As important as understanding and harnessing Big Data may be, it has become such a distraction for some marketers that there’s potential to overlook other significant data-related issues.
With that in mind, Direct Marketing News asked several industry insiders the following: What’s the most overlooked data issue right now and how can marketers address it? What follows are the data-related issues that marketers should be paying attention to, as well as how to overcome any related challenges or capture data-driven opportunities.
Marketers have access to more data and more powerful tools to leverage data than ever before. The problem is that marketers often don’t know what to do with the data: how to analyze it, draw proper insights from it, and then shape their marketing programs based on those insights. The result is a significant lack of data utilization. Marketers are paying to acquire, store, and stage data, but they aren’t getting the true benefit of that data, which leads to less informed marketing decisions, reduced engagement, and lower ROI. This is a huge missed opportunity for marketers who want to drive value from more personal, one-to-one relationships with customers and their best prospects. Marketers need to leverage existing data to better understand customer lifecycle trends and buying habits, and then trigger programs that move customers along the lifecycle, reduce attrition, and drive long term customer relationships.
Global practice leader, Acxiom
For many marketers, the opportunity still exists to merge offline and online data, specifically when it comes to marrying intent with customer value. For example, search continues to represent some of the purest forms of intent available on the Web. However, when someone then goes to a form of owned media, whether a landing page, website, or Facebook page, the experience doesn’t always leverage important information a brand knows about its customers. Customer A may be a high-value customer, a low-value customer, or somewhere in the middle. In particular, Customer A may have decreased his spend year over year dramatically, and thus can be predicted to have either a shift in income or be doing business with a competitor. Both have implications for what type of offer might be best for that particular customer. Understanding customer lifetime value and share-of-wallet analytical models and marrying that with intent for consumers (this goes for prospects and existing customers) can help a brand better understand both what to offer and potentially how to save a customer at the very moment they are ready to engage. “Purity of intent” meets “purity of data in real time” is going to be a key concept for brands to grasp in the next few months to years.
Cofounder and CEO, Intent Media
It’s not that data is overlooked, but rather that it is often over-averaged. Averaging your response data reveals a single best overall answer to what, where, and how to spend in any given channel. But de-averaging—breaking the data into meaningful subgroups—shows that customers aren’t, in fact, average. There are multiple “best answers” and de-averaging allows you to highlight and act on this insight.
CMO, Teradata Applications
One of the biggest misconceptions about data right now is that analytics and customer engagement are mutually exclusive. In fact, hey go hand in hand. That’s why the concept of integrated marketing management is so critical: every channel and every campaign should be plugged into the data analysis process so that customers and prospects are receiving the right content at the right time. The customer has taken control for good; instead of fighting it, marketers must use data to get to know their customers completely. By replacing broad-based targeting with an integrated approach that uses data-driven insights to reach customers with the personalized offers they want and demand, marketers can engage at an entirely new level.
SVP, Strategic Initiatives Group, Epsilon
In 2012 the great data irony is that marketers are simply not using the consumer data available to them to truly personalize the online marketing experience. For example, in the display space, marketers rely on site metrics to understand who’s viewing their display ads. The audience visiting a site and the consumers visiting an ad are fundamentally different metrics and marketers should consider a display-intelligence company to better understand their reach. With the data a display-intelligence company provides, marketers can ensure that ads attract the right audience, and, where the actual ad viewers don’t fit the marketer’s objectives, they can make adjustments.
In email, amazingly, marketers still think about email marketing at a campaign level. From responder results to deployment times, marketers target email recipients at a campaign level. Marketers have the ability to analyze opens and clicks in real-time at the individual level. With that insight they can personalize deployment times and content, driving 10 to 20% increases in open and click rates and improving the marketing experience.
Marketers who want to engage their consumers need to move from a “more data” perspective to a mind-set of leveraging the best and often the most basic data.
Director, marketing and alliances, North Plains
One major issue that marketers face is the struggle to address the massive amounts of visual data that resulted from the explosion of new marketing channels and development of content. Marketers can waste time and money searching for the most current and correct asset that may not be easily found. They also run the risk of sending outdated visual content across the wrong channel.
To help, marketers should implement appropriate metadata tagging, a proper taxonomy structure, and a flexible digital asset management solution. With all these elements marketers can avoid ruining their brand reputation, issues with rights management, and the loss of valuable customers.
Database marketing manager, Eloqua
Gone are the days when people stayed with a company for 20-plus years. Now, it’s typical to see someone leave their job after a year or two. This creates an issue not only for sales, who may lose a key contact during the sales cycle, but also for marketers who are trying to maintain or grow their database. With professionals constantly switching jobs, the cost to grow or at least maintain the marketing database rises. The result is that marketers need to be even more effective with their messages. Marketers have to monitor response rates and design campaigns based on engagement with the goal of getting prospects to that next stage—faster. On the database front, be sure that the marketing team’s demand generation activities are taking the attrition rates of the current database size into account.
SVP and GM, Infor CRM
It’s important to go beyond simple historical data to get a full portrait of each customer at the exact point of interaction. Marketers need to look across all of the available data types—demographic, behavioral, psychographic, and contextual—in real time to improve message delivery, resonation, and acceptance.
Say a customer looks at her mortgage information online and one week later uses the phone self-serve system to get her current checking account balance. She then decides to stay on hold to speak to a call center representative. The institution should be conscious of all this cross-channel data, combining past experiences with current information, such as how long she was on hold, so they can provide a more tailored experience that can impact the acceptance of services offered. It’s essential for organizations to get creative and look beyond the obvious data sources to things such as interactive voice response selections, website, ATMs, surveys, etc., to gain additional insight into the customers they’re interacting with.
Senior director, marketing and product, Experian QAS
Marketers have known for some time that better intelligence leads to more relevant messages. In a fast-paced world of endless channels, marketers need to combine external intelligence with valuable internal data in real time to create relevant offers. While many talk about this capability, few have achieved it.
To create relevant messages, marketers need to:
- Improve internal data quality: 92% of organizations suspect that their consumer data might have inaccuracies. Contribute to database maintenance and encourage IT to install verification tools and remove duplicates.
- Enhance searching capabilities: Most databases require an exact match to identify an existing record. Enhance capabilities to allow for matching, even with minor errors, to aid in pulling and truly understanding internal data.
- Plan: Simply having data isn’t going to make your campaigns more effective. Marketers need to have a strategic plan for intelligence and be able to articulate which data they need to achieve their goals.
CMO, Lattice Engines
While the volume of data for marketers has grown, so have the silos. Today’s marketing technology backbone is a patchwork of SaaS applications: Web analytics, CRM, marketing automation, social media monitoring and analytics, SEO tools, business intelligence, event management, and communities. Pity the marketer who can barely remember all their logins for the various silos. Integration and insight across the data? Few marketers are doing a good job here.
Having volumes of data is simply not enough. Marketers need to find insight and act on it. Fortunately, there are now techniques and technologies that make handling data at extreme scale affordable.
The real power of Big Data is integration and predictive analytics across data sources. The first step is to understand the business problems that need to be solved. Next is finding the “owners” of the data and creating a real-time platform that harnesses these disparate data sets. The successful marketing organizations tend to be comfortable with ambiguity, have the ability to ask focused, strategic questions based on the data, and are committed to data integration across internal, external, and social data sources.
EVP, sales and marketing, Merchant Warehouse
The proliferation of mobile usage has created an abundance of potential data that marketers can tap into. However, the disparate technologies retailers use can create sources of information that are commonly overlooked.
For example, retailers are starting to adopt mobile payments, mobile commerce, geofencing, QR codes, targeted loyalty programs, etc. Unless a marketer is aware of where the data is coming from and considers the best way to slice and dice it, there are large chunks of information that go wholly unused. Only with a complete picture of a customer base can marketers truly be successful fighting for consumers’ attention. Marketers should be more proactive about dialing into the adoption of new technology and its related data.
EVP and cofounder, Digital Element
The most overlooked data issue is the interplay between IP geotargeting and mobile. Beefing up mobile strategies and becoming more local using targeting techniques such as GPS are very high on marketers’ to-do lists. Many marketers assume that mobile targeting and traditional Internet geotargeting via IP address are two distinct activities—they actually work hand in hand. Because GPS is an opt-in technology, and more than 80% of mobile device users surf via WiFi, IP geotargeting is a hugely important piece to any robust mobile strategy. IP targeting allows marketers to provide instantly georelevant content, down to the postal code, to give mobile users a taste of geotargeted content. Once users receive a geotargeted message, they’re more apt to opt in for further, more precise GPS-type targeting.