How to Optimize for Big Data

Marketers need to step up to the challenges of Big Data to claim its rewards. We need a clear path to advanced customer engagement, one that lets us tap into the real potential of data-driven programs.

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And the best programs won’t work without creating an optimized approach to channels and customers. Here’s a look at these two critical routes to marketing optimization, and how the payoff can extend beyond marketing into your entire enterprise.

Channel optimization
Despite all the channels through which consumers can engage your brand, the customer experience doesn’t have to be less predictable. Customers may be outpacing marketers with access to digital information and social influ­encers, but marketers now have the advantage of a multichannel understanding of the customer.

Every email click, online purchase, SMS response and Facebook message has the potential to inform your marketing efforts – but only if you have effectively integrated your multichannel ap­proach.

Those who are further along the channel optimization pathway are able to integrate customer communications in real time via digital channels and in batch via direct mail. They are able to incorporate ecommerce and clickstream data to inform and target email content. They are able to use geographic data to target SMS campaigns. And they are able to target Facebook users with connected, shareable content.

What’s most challenging, however, and most critical to advanced customer engagement, is the ability to deliver an integrated cross-channel message and prioritize the customer’s preferred channel. Most marketing organizations manage channels disparately – separate responsibility and budgeting, independent strategies, and isolated data sources.

But when email, mobile and social communications are integrated, customers are more likely to experience and appreciate a consistent message adapted to the channel in which it is being de­livered. Marketers can make better decisions regarding their investment in each channel.

Customer optimization
With all the information available to marketers today, the opportunity to attune campaigns to the customer’s actions has never been richer – or more profitable.

For example, there are specific points in the customer lifecycle at which an email campaign can be the most effective – a welcome message following registration, a thank-you message after the first purchase, a follow-up offer following a transaction – and provide customers with a positive and engaging experience.

The cadence of your marketing programs should be defined by customer activity, regardless of the channel. For example, a recent purchase can initiate a customized email follow-up, as well as a Facebook message. The key is to create programs that are in step with the customer’s lifecycle and attuned to their responsiveness by channel.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, each program should include a method of attribution for the channel and a means to track customer responsiveness. For example, a customized digital coupon that can be tracked online and offline, or a pixel source code that accurately attributes online activ­ity.

It’s important to know which channel or channels have the greatest influence on the customer’s lifecycle, and how the channels can most effectively be integrated to create a positive customer experience.

Enterprise intelligence
With the other pathways optimized for advanced customer engagement, organizations will find themselves in a position to extend the impact of integrated cus­tomer data and cross-channel communications to offline marketing initiatives, such as newspaper and in-store promotions, and other opportunities for online targeting, such as display advertising.

The same integrated customer data will help inform better decision-making beyond marketing communications; for example, merchandising strategies for new products or new locations for retail stores based on customer activity and penetration in specific regions.

Enterprise intelligence is the pathway in which organizations as a whole are the least sophisticated, but combined with the other pathways has the potential for the most far-reaching impact on customer engagement as a whole.

Arthur Sweetser is chief marketing officer at 89 Degrees.

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