Digital Marketing Insights
October 04, 2013 | Syed Mahmood
Acxiom Corporation, a kingpin of the consumer database marketing industry, caused quite a stir this past month with their launch of AboutTheData.com. The website lets consumers view (and correct or suppress) some of the profile information that Acxiom collects and sells about them. Acxiom’s objective in launching this service appears to be two-fold: first, to act proactively in the face of proposed legislation by the Federal Trade Commission that would require data brokers like Acxiom to give consumers access to information collected about them. Second, to provide an avenue for consumers to correct inaccuracies or holes in their records, thereby increasing the value of this data to marketers who purchase from Acxiom.
So far the site's beta launch has been plagued with technical issues. Many visitors have been unable to log in or have found significant inaccuracies in their profile data. According to Scott Howe, Acxiom’s CEO, these challenges stem from the fact that the company’s consumer profiles are generated by gathering and integrating data from a number of disparate sources. Further complicating matters, some customers were unable to view their full profiles due to connection failures between Aboutthedata.com and the disparate sources that the website pulls consumer data points from (a technical complication that was likened to dealing with a clogged water pipe).
The fields of big data, analytics, decision sciences and the technologies supporting them are costly, complicated and new – the kinks are still getting worked out. Acxiom’s launch of AboutTheData.com has shone the media spotlight on the technical big data challenges that marketers have been dealing with for a while now.
For example, it’s common across industries for customer data to reside in disparate, disconnected sources, often resulting in data that contains duplicate and/or inaccurate information. Enterprises have invested millions of dollars in building enterprise data warehouses and implementing CRM and marketing automation systems. Despite massive investments and promises of integrated, real-time cross-channel marketing campaigns, industry analysts concede that marketers have largely been unable to progress beyond single-channel solutions. This is due in part to inadequate technologies that make marketers dependent on IT resources and technical staff to gain access to the data and extract the insights hidden within - which can be a slow and cumbersome process, as anyone who has used such systems knows. By the time marketers get the desired customer data from IT, it’s likely that the opportunity to execute timely customer engagements based on those interest, trend or life event insights will have already passed.
So is big data really the key to the holy grail of modern marketing – the ability to engage customers based on a real-time understanding of their individual interests and needs? The short answer is yes. One main reason is that big data offers marketers access to a new and dynamic source of customer data: customer interactions (think web searches, email opens, Facebook likes, etc.). Customer interactions can be used to enhance static profile data consisting mostly of demographic attributes to create a more state-aware profile of the customer. However, this requires profile and interaction data to be brought together, reconciled and analyzed. Which again brings us to the same sort of “clogged water pipe” technical challenges that AboutTheData.com has been facing.
So what are today’s marketers to do? How can they keep up with customers who are constantly connected, channel agnostic, demand instant gratification and have ever-increasing expectations from their favorite companies? (Other than continue to shoot arrows in the dark and hope that some of them find their target).
Stay tuned to find out. In my next post, I'll share the attributes of an effective analytics platform that marketers can use to overcome these shortcomings and get closer than ever to that holy grail of real-time marketing.
Posted by: Syed Mahmood at 2:14 PM
May 28, 2010 | Kristin Hersant
SAP and Unica both held their annual user conferences last week in the same city – Orlando. Both events highlighted a fundamental shift that’s underway in the world of B2C marketing. Corporations are moving from near-time to real-time marketing communications, where they can immediately serve up personalized experiences to consumers interacting with their brand across multiple channels. This might sound next to impossible, but for companies that use multichannel campaign management (MCCM) solutions like those offered by SAP and Unica, there is a real opportunity to reap the benefits of real-time marketing – and email marketing is one of the most effective channels for executing on that strategy.
MCCM solutions make it possible for companies to capture customer information across multiple touch points and then make that data readily available to drive campaigns. The advent of social media has forced companies to start looking at customer experience holistically, rather than continuing to operate in disparate marketing silos. Loyal customers expect a brand to know who they are and what they like, regardless of what channel they choose to interact with the brand through. Real-time marketing enables companies to achieve a new level of relevancy that meets customer expectations and drive significantly higher response rates and revenue per customer. Companies that chose to embark on such a significant undertaking will have a critical competitive differentiator in the coming years.
Email marketing is fast emerging as the common thread that links all of these customer interactions together. It is the hub of all digital marketing conversations and the unique identifier in many customer databases. A cutting-edge example of real-time marketing comes from Unica marketing excellence award honoree Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). When someone books a room online at one of IHG's 4,400 global properties, they automatically receive a confirmation email that is tailored to the individual based on their loyalty status, the hotel location, their purchase history and specified preferences. No two confirmation emails are alike. At the time of booking, IHG's online reservation system communicates with StrongView and Unica Interact to deliver a unique, targeted email to that individual in less than 2 seconds. Soon this real-time personalization will be extended to the web, providing a seamless customer experience between channels.
Brands are quickly realizing that the days of batch and blast are over. Not only are they becoming increasingly ineffective, they are also alienating customers who expect companies to send messages that reflect their relationship with the brand. Campaign management systems like Unica and SAP CRM are making real-time marketing possible, and tight integrations with email marketing, web, mobile and social media channels are necessary for delivering these unique experiences to the consumer.
Smart marketers know that one-to-one marketing is the best way to generate revenue and customer satisfaction, and StrongView works with leading campaign management vendors to put true one-to-one marketing within your reach. For more information on using email marketing and CRM together to deliver targeted, personalized messages, you can view our on-demand webinar "Email Marketing with SAP CRM: Achieving Relevance, Deliverability and Scale."