The following is a guest post by Stephanie Miller (@StephanieSAM), Partner at TopRight Partners, leading the Integrated Marketing/CRM practice area

The job of every marketer is to drive more meaningful engagement and deliver better business outcomes – and especially so for marketing analytics teams. Those who touch and manage the data that drive business today are held to a high bar for results.

“Companies increasingly realize that a significant competitive advantage can be gained by providing more meaningful customer engagement and positive experiences,” said John Young, Managing Director of Analytics for global marketing services firm Epsilon and the moderator of a DMA Analytics Challenge session on “Innovative Data Sources” at the DMA14 conference in late October. “Those who are successful in doing this will increase customer retention and spend, improve acquisition results, and drive higher shareholder value.

But central to improving customer engagement and experiences, is a deeper understanding of what consumers are seeking in their relationship with the brand, and then delivering on that. And data are a key enabler in achieving this result … by observing and inferring customers’ needs and desires, marketers gain knowledge that allows them to deliver more meaningful engagement and better customer experiences”

There are two approaches to consider. Brian Venuti, VP of CRM for E*TRADE said on the panel that you can either spend time with the people inside the organization who have data and ask questions of the data; or you can consider the end strategy and work backwards. If we want to learn something about a particular segment,” he said, “We map to the insights and then go backwards to see if we can get that data – or at least learn what is needed. You need both approaches.”

Customer and internal needs change, however. Jim Lisczewski, VP of General Manager of Shutterfly Business Solutions, which provides digital asset management services to outside firms. “We are able to build CRM programs based on direct marketing basics such as demographics but also layer in unique data aspects such as activity, quantity of postings, purchase behavior, average order, margin versus promotional buyer, etc.  And of course now we have to utilize all the latest in RTD systems since our customer interaction is real-time.”

Of course, just because you can know something and trigger a marketing message, doesn’t mean you should. Brian notes, “Preferences is not a static page or function – we try to embed preference management into the customer experience,” he said, “This is not easily done, especially across channels.

“However, the customer’s stated preference is only a starting point. We use behavior data as well as integrated notice and choice options across the digital experience to respect the evolving interests of our customers,” he said. The data is primarily internal, but increasingly accented by outside data from digital platforms for display and social marketing.

Shutterfly looks for environments that create community, Jim said.  “Consider sports teams, schools and clubs where sharing is important. ““It turns out that sharing creates community, so we expand our reach without acquisition costs and we layer this data on top of some of our traditional data in order to create a more robust and personal experience.”

“Being innovative with marketing data requires more than data and analytics prowess,” John from Epsilon said. “Culture and support are just as essential.”

It requires a commitment from the organization to use data responsibly and in a trustworthy manner. “The results can be extraordinary if this is done well, “ he said.

Shutterfly has been very aggressive in using non-traditional data sources, Jim said. “Our richest source is internally with our Shutterfly Share Sites. This sharing data is incredibly powerful for our data marketing teams to strengthen our core markets but also expand into markets we normally would not have insight into.  Externally it’s all about the partnerships.

“Having a ‘memory partner’ relationship (which allows the Shutterfly products and services to be offered to other companies) with most of the major consumer brands you can name, this has been a great source of further data that we can layer onto existing activities and build new scoring models for new services.

“As a result, we rely less and less on third party data, and more on first and second party data,” Jim said.

The value of data doesn’t end with marketers creating experiences, John said. “It’s a two way street. Data can also be supplied to the customer to increase their engagement and allow them to create their own experiences,” he said.

Data comes first, then analytics can be applied. “There are some very interesting data sets now coming forward, like the telematics information collected and used by your car,” John said.

Some of the innovative sources and uses of data that the panelists mentioned include:

  • E*TRADE uses triggered lifestyle data to match content to each customer. On the flip side, Brian said, there are transactional triggers that are alerts based on an asset’s performance, which are set up by the investor to tap into market activity or outside activities.
  •  E*TRADE recognizes that anonymous comparison data is often valuable for consumers to benchmark with other investors.   “This is very compelling data and creates opportunities for new insights and social activity.” Brian said.
  • Servicing is a big opportunity on many E*TRADE pages where a Chat feature is welcome. However, we have to watch we don’t make it seem like the financial advisor is monitoring or tracking your activities – “that could get creepy,” Brian said.
  • Usually, a healthcare provider only contacts us with bad news. However, one of the firms is using the Shutterfly business platform to collected FitBit data and providing feedback for a health check on a weekly or monthly schedule.


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