New market research (“DMPs: Beyond the Buzzwords” available here) from Winterberry Group on the role of the data management platform (DMP) as a “big data activation solution” cites “multichannel customer communications” as the most significant value creation opportunity available to marketers and points to its “extremely high growth potential.” However, it also finds that despite the potential of multi-channel, DMP capabilities today are often limited to the support of online display advertising initiatives. The report goes on to forecast substantial changes over the next 12 to 18 months as large technology and service suppliers build foundational “stacks” for multi-channel data support and “take the DMP landscape by storm.”
However, even if you believe in this 12-to-18-month timeline, smart marketers can’t wait that long for the arrival of complete turnkey offerings to meet their multi-channel marketing needs – the benefits of executing on multi-channel marketing strategies immediately are too substantial. And there is simply no escaping the fact that modern marketers must leverage technology much more deeply than was ever previously required in order to get their jobs done.
Trident Marketing, a direct response marketing and sales firm for brands including DirecTV, ADT, and Travel Resorts of America, provides a compelling example highlighting the benefits of a custom development approach. The firm’s key insight involved enriching its search engine marketing (SEM) data with customer relationship management (CRM) data from its call center. Uniting these disparate data silos enabled new classes of multi-channel analysis. As CEO Steve Baldelli reports, “The calculations take into account the bid amount, the click-through rate for each keyword, the number of calls that result, the cost per call, the close rate, the product that was sold, and so on, to help us see which keywords generate the highest yield for our clients.” As a result of its investment in multi-channel analysis, Trident Marketing has seen a remarkable tenfold (1,000 percent) increase in revenue along with a 30 percent reduction in its marketing costs.
Marketers who choose to embrace big data technology in order to build their own custom multi-channel marketing solutions – like Trident Marketing – will face challenges acquiring the right talent. The skills required to build custom solutions are fundamentally different from those required to operate the software-as-a-service (SaaS) marketing solutions that are currently considered “best-of-breed” for specific digital channels like search, display, email, website, mobile, and social. Demand for people with these skills is high and they are often hard to find. But as the Trident Marketing story shows, the payoff is worth the effort, and a phased approach to addressing this talent acquisition challenge with a “crawl, walk, run” approach (like this one) can help ease the burden.
A custom development approach to multi-channel marketing also introduces unique big data technology challenges. The rapid pace of innovation in big data technology makes tool selection difficult. But more importantly, big data technology requirements vary significantly across each of the most common multi-channel marketing use cases, so a “one-size-fits-all” approach will not work, and optimal tool selection is highly dependent on the specific multi-channel capabilities you wish to support. This important point is highlighted in a recent IBM white paper on choosing a big data technology stack for digital marketing. It provides a detailed decision framework for tool selection based on multi-channel marketing requirements. For example, it suggests that if email targeting is your top priority, the selection criteria for your big data platform should emphasize easy data integration and support for your chosen statistical analysis tools and integrated marketing systems. However, if site personalization is your top priority, a big data platform with real-time support should be of utmost importance. The good news here is that while multi-channel objectives may force marketers to engage in custom development efforts that are inherently more complex than leveraging SaaS tools, recent innovations in big data platforms have proven their ability to radically simplify and accelerate these initiatives.
While a custom development approach clearly has the potential to deliver the most effective multi-channel execution capabilities for marketers, it’s important to note that this approach also creates significant strategic value for marketers by enabling them to take control of their data and leverage it in ways previously not possible. Again, the Trident Marketing story helps to illustrate this opportunity. The data residing within its SEM and CRM tools was inherently valuable. However, uniting those disparate data silos unlocked far more value than either tool could create independently. It was the relationships among the data elements in those disparate silos that represented their most significant value creation opportunity. For marketers who appreciate this important insight and invest appropriately in a custom big data platform for multi-channel marketing, similar success is well within reach.
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