This guest post is from John Bartold, VP, Loyalty Solutions of Epsilon, who spoke at NCDM13: Where Marketing Meets Big Data.  The article originally appeared on the Epsilon blog.

This week the DMA hosted their annual National Conference for Data-Driven Marketing (NCDM) in Las Vegas. The three-day event featured keynotes, case studies and workshops covering the marketing strategies and data management techniques that connect data, analytics and marketing intelligence.

At the show, Kelly Smolinski of Walgreens, Jeff Maddock of FedEx and I presented in the Loyalty Marketing Track. During our session, Small Data: What’s The Big Deal? Kelly and Jeff overviewed their respective loyalty programs and explained how they leverage small data to drive big results.

It’s important to note that when it comes to data, small does not mean insignificant.

Small data are the single pieces of information specific to the individual customer that come directly from them through program interaction.  Brands can use these small data facts to communicate directly with each customer on a personal level. We look at small data as the personal relationship equivalent to active listening.

So how does FedEx incorporate small data into their loyalty programs? A perfect example is the FedEx Rewards Game Time.

Launched in 2007, FedEx Rewards Game Time was created to capitalize on FedEx’s NFL sponsorship. It’s a points-based B2B customer loyalty program with tiered level offers and awards designed to enhance the customer experience.

The program creative is a blend of targeted messaging and FedEx and football imagery. Each customer receives messaging targeted to their specific wants, needs and position. For example, the rewards site background design is customized for each user based on their favorite football team.

The program uses multiple communication channels—including email, direct mail and online retargeting—based again on the customer’s preference. Small data is used to drive customer segmentation, which highlights behavior and shipping trends. Based on the segmentation, customers receive relevant offers based on their shipping needs and growth opportunities.

Additionally, FedEx uses gamification to capture preference data and to discover what motivates their customers to engage and purchase. Customers are incentivized to share their preferences across the FedEx brand as well as the Rewards experience.

The result? FedEx Rewards Game Time enrolled 24,000 registrants and had a 12:1 revenue to expense ratio for the entire campaign. More than 51% of registrants are high-value field accounts and FedEx nearly doubled average daily net revenue per registrant from the previous year.

Do you use small data to better engage customers? Comment and tell us how.

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