Is it still the year of “Real-Time Marketing?” Of course, there can be no real-time marketing without capturing data in real time. The whole “real-time” thing is increasingly important, and it just might make social media truly relevant to how marketers move from driving engagement to actually producing revenue through this channel. To many, real-time marketing is also the optimal way to drive 1:1 customer interaction throughout the customer life cycle and optimize revenue performance. But real-time is highly complex, costly, and its transactional nature is not directly applicable to many industries, products and services. As a result, it remains an elusive goal.
Why? Many marketers are still struggling with the fundamentals of driving revenue performance and applying the growth of their data to driving buying behavior throughout the customer life cycle. Exacerbating the struggle is the explosion of data into what is increasingly being termed the “Big Data” problem. However, evidence abounds on the opportunity for marketers to leverage Big Data:
- Data is exploding at a nearly 1000 percent increase in the last five years from offline and online sources that are just waiting to be monetized (“Extracting Value from Chaos,” IDC, June, 2011).
- Social media and mobile communications are driving data explosion and creating new ways to buy products.
- Cloud computing and associated technologies, i.e., social media listening platforms, marketing automation systems, and sales force automation, are making data more accessible and actionable to the marketer.
Marketers need to evolve toward their real-time goals by first dealing with the fundamental data issues they have today. One way to do so is to evolve toward Right-Time Revenue Optimization.
Right-Time Revenue Optimization focuses on driving revenue performance at the right time in the customer life cycle using multi-channel marketing.
Multi-channel marketing, at the right time, focuses on the aggregation of customer behavior over time and takes a very deep, analytical approach to customer interactions, based on behaviors, purchase history and a multitude of market dynamics. The customer intelligence derived from these interactions guides an optimized revenue strategy that focuses on markets, accounts and buyers to spur specific buying behavior throughout the customer life cycle.
Instead of looking at data as a massive avalanche, and hearing the rumble in real time, marketers are better able to leverage the data they have at the right time, and continue to accumulate by driving a data strategy that is applied to the customer life cycle, marketing channels and their use of customer intelligence. Taking this approach moves marketing along a continuum that drives more highly qualified leads, nurtures opportunities into real sales faster, and ultimately creates customer retention that increases the top and bottom lines.
Big Data, customer intelligence, and multi-channel marketing strategy
To achieve Right-Time Revenue Optimization, and hence have an effective multi-channel marketing strategy, it’s critical to use Big Data strategically. Big Data ultimately drives the strategy. Unfortunately, the connotation of Big Data is anything but simple.
However, when you transform Big Data into customer intelligence and then leverage it across multi-channel marketing, the opportunities to drive revenue throughout the customer life cycle become enormous.
And it doesn’t simply create an opportunity for marketers to leverage customer intelligence for competitive advantages. It also helps to identify and define what markets and customers represent the highest revenue and profitability potential, how to build more brand loyalty and tie that to profitability and, ultimately, how to find, win and keep more valuable customers.
Creating valuable customer intelligence is certainly not without its challenges. But embarking on driving a wide variety of marketing strategies, while leveraging everything imaginable in your mix, creates an overly complex, inefficient and ultimately a self-perpetuating failure. Simplify achieving your revenue goals by starting with customer intelligence and ground your Right-Time Revenue Optimization strategies on what your customers, market and business tells you.
Transforming Big Data into customer intelligence
Big Data doesn’t come into your marketing environment from one source; they literally flow from hundreds of sources, both offline and online. The marketer also needs to take an expanded definition of customer data. While social media is top of mind, it only represents a handful of sources. Expand your thinking about the traditional sources of marketing data and start thinking about purchase history, customer service and pre-sales history. And don’t forget about the treasure trove of information that exists in unstructured forms like email or notes within SFA and service systems.
To transform this raw data into customer intelligence that drives revenue optimization, the marketer needs a purpose-built marketing data mart. In fact, the marketing data mart is a crucial step to not only Right-Time Revenue Optimization, but also eventually evolving to fully capturing data in real time.
Marketing data marts transform Big Data into customer intelligence by creating a platform for:
- Managing (clean, de-duplicate, standardize, merge, purge, consolidate, and augment) responses and other marketing interaction data that are generated from a myriad of online and offline sources
- Providing more complex firmographic and demographic segmentation and profiling to increase leads, incent buying or take advantage of significant up-sell and cross-sell opportunities
- Using more sophisticated segmentation and profiling to drive campaigns and offers to the right buyers, at the right time and in the right places
To evolve toward more increasingly sophisticated uses of customer intelligence for right-time multi-channel marketing, the implementation of a marketing data mart is the next step. It provides the ability to integrate with a customer intelligence system that can analyze very large, complex amounts of data all in one place. Marketing automation systems do not have extensive capabilities in this area.
For example, in B2B, there is a rich trove of untapped intelligence from marketing, sales and service. This data includes not just simple transaction information about product purchases and shipment dates but also details concerning customer interactions, product installation, product use and service calls. Locked in the raw data about a customer’s behavior are important insights about their interactions, which are significantly more actionable through a marketing data mart integrated with a customer intelligence system.
Similarly, in B2C, behavioral data are being leveraged as intelligence derived from many of the new channels that consumers wish to engage and interact from, i.e., social media and mobile. The dynamics of the buying cycle are much faster in B2C, and require the need for a marketing data mart and customer intelligence system to exploit the changes in the data.
In essence, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. This is especially true when executing multi-channel marketing campaigns that require the predictability of coming up with the right offer at the right time to the right buyer.
Harnessing the opportunity
The use of customer intelligence is a critical component to harnessing the competitive advantage of Big Data. While the benefits of Real-time Marketing remain elusive and not always applicable, marketers can optimize revenue and profitability for their organizations by realizing the use of customer intelligence to drive Right-Time Revenue Optimization today.
Joe Cordo is CMO of Extraprise, a leader in right time revenue optimization for B2B and B2C enterprises, providing database marketing and demand generation services. For more information, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Extraprise.