One of my more interesting conversations as a Marketing Technology Consultant was with a Fortune 500 Marketing division some time ago. This probably opened my eyes to the more pragmatic challenges facing marketers than any other knowledge source and personally gave me some insights into how some of these challenges could be addressed. The participants in the conversation were the Global and Regional Digital Marketing heads and the internal IT divisions of the customer organization. The conversation ran something like this.
M: Our post-purchase programs are not going well. CTRs are way below what we need. We are probably pushing the same programs to all customers – week after week.
IT: What do you think will help you?
M: Well, we need more intelligence plugged in to these campaigns. We are probably pushing cross sells to customers who really need re-engagement and product education programs to loyal customers who know the product maybe as well as we do.
IT: Gee, we have petabytes (read Big Data) of web tracking and CRM Data going across 4 years now. Let me know if some of this will help.
M: I told you we need the intelligence, some kind of metrics about customers and their behavior – like risk scores, purchase propensities and the like. How do I move this… this ..here big data and get those metrics out to improve my campaign returns?
IT: I see your point. That would make your first stop the Analytics Division – 2nd door to your right on the third floor. Those guys are working on a humungous platform to make customer intelligence available to all departments. In the next six months or so, they should have something for you – at least a working prototype. I can put in a word if you want me to…
M: Well, don’t bother. But thanks for the help John……..
Being part of this conversation showed me some of those significant challenges that marketers are struggling with. There were of course more conversations with other organizations but the topic rarely deviated. My take away or at least the heart of the problem to me seemed to be the following.
- Marketers use a shared pool of data – including CRM and browsing data that they legally own as a function. A single “marketing” related repository is not always available.
- Existing customer data sources & applications are not always engineered to communicate seamlessly.
- The data is mostly transactional and not in a form that can be consumed directly by campaigns – Read lack of consumer metrics aligned to marketing goals.
- Consumer data is generally outdated and stale in technology terms - The most recent information is rarely accessible by the marketer.
- Marketers have to coordinate with technical services from Marketing Product Consultants & their in-house IT teams and not to mention managing Branding & Design vendors.
In summary, my learning was that IT speaks data while marketers need information. Inspired by this real time know how I put together a 6 stage framework – I call it SPIRAL for easy recall and here are the individual components. I do hope it helps the early stage technology adopters in conceptualizing their Marketing Technology road map to some degree.
S: Spot and Identify “Marketing Aligned” Consumer Information
P: Pool and manage multiple Data Sources into a single storehouse
I: Integrate this intelligence with Marketing Platforms
R: Real Time as in the “Now Information”
A: Aggregation & Objectivizing of Consumer Behavior
L: Learning – from data and building informational intelligence with analytics
The first five pieces of the framework can add a lot of solidity to the foundation on which your data driven infrastructure and nay even your marketing philosophy can rest on. The next couple of blogs will be devoted to the dissection of these individual components and what goes into making each one of these aspects successful. Do look out for the next couple of posts.