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What Will Campaign Management Be Like In 2020? December 30, 2008

Posted by Elana Anderson in Database Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Technology, Online Marketing, Product Marketing, Web Analytics.
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12 comments

I was recently asked what I thought Campaign Management software would be like in 2020. My quick (and somewhat flip) answer is to bemoan the seemingly slow pace at which marketing software has evolved to date. After all, as scary as it may be, 2020 is only 11 years away!

What were you doing 11 years ago? I was working on a project with Eddie Bauer to build a big marketing data warehouse and implement software to explore and mine customer data. Our business objectives? Better understand and drive cross-channel behavior, increase the effectiveness of EB’s catalog marketing efforts, and increase the synergy between the direct (catalog) and  and retail channels. Fast forward to today, I continue to see lots of projects that sound very much like that one.

But, to be fair, the marketing world has also changed dramatically in 11 years. Eleven years ago, eCommerce was new and order volumes were low. Eddie Bauer and most other leading multi-channel retailers, were still printing online orders and entering them by hand into the catalog order system. Marketing (and CRM) technology has also largely evolved in this same time period. We’ve seen the growth and demise of great companies like Exchange Applications, Prime Response, and Epiphany. We’ve seen the development of categories like eCommerce and Web Analytics (Omniture has evolved a lot from its early days as SuperStats.com and MyComputer.com).

So, back to the question at hand. What will Campaign Management be like in 2020? I preface my comments with the above to explain why I apply a measure of realism to my fantasies around how dramatically Campaign Management will change in the next 11 years. The technology will change at the rate at which marketing organizations can absorb it. And, the biggest barrier to technology absorption — at least in my experience — is the maturity of the marketing organization and its processes. IT can be another key barrier — a barrier which can be reduced to an extent by on demand solutions. The other bright side of on demand — as I wrote about more than two years ago on Forrester’s Marketing Blog – is that the development innovation cycle can be dramatically decreased.

With the above as preface, my thoughts (appropriately influenced by my current and former colleagues — some of the brightest minds in the marketing technology sector) on Campaign Management in 2020…

What is Campaign Management Anyway?

One key thing that the industry (vendors, analysts, et al) needs to consider is that what we think of as Campaign Management today is not campaign management at all from the marketer perspective. Specifically, the industry largely defines Campaign Management as technology to support outbound direct marketing campaigns. It’s time to take a broader view. To start, we must incorporate the management of marketing communications through inbound marketing channels into the definition. But beyond that, if you really think about how marketers define “campaigns” ( i.e., inclusive of a much broader set of campaign types ranging across direct, online, and traditional mass media), then the definition of Campaign Management needs to expand to enable marketing to manage, automate, and measure any type of marketing campaign. Interestingly, this makes what the industry defines today as Marketing Resource Management (MRM) or Marketing Operations Management (MOM) really Campaign Management (I have  never been that keen on terms anyway;-)… It also means that what we know of today as Campaign Management really becomes Centralized Customer Decisioning, Customer Decision Management, or Customer Message Management (none of those are great and I’d love to hear more suggestions, but you get the idea).

Immediate Evolution of Campaign Management

In the immediate term, we absolutely need to see campaign management solutions expanding to provide two key things:

  1. Integrated support for inbound and outbound marketing. Simply put, Campaign Management solutions can no longer just support outbound marketing. Response rates to outbound marketing activities are continuing to decline and inbound channels (online and offline) offer a tremendous opportunity to interact with an engaged customer. While some CM solutions today have inbound capabilities, the fact that these capabilities are not integrated with the outbound capabilities presents another significant challenge to marketers. The vast majority of companies identify “improving customer experience” as a key corporate priority. The idea of centralized decisioning — which integrates inbound and outbound messaging driven by rich interaction history — is core to helping firms carry interactions seamlessly beyond a single channel.
  2. Integrated support for online and offline. Most of us recognize that companies can no longer treat the Internet as “new media” or a standalone skunk works marketing function separate from the rest of the marketing organization. Interestingly, the kinds of things that onlinemarketing groups are trying to do today requires many of the core capabilities that most Campaign Management applications possess. But Campaign Management also needs to evolve to deal much more effectively with visitor anonymity, online behavioral data, and web channels. Beyond that, it must also better support marketing’s need to integrate across online channels themselves (yes, current technologies do a poor job of helping marketers integrate their online efforts much less online and offline!) as well as offline or traditional channels. 

What Will Happen to Campaign Management Next

When we think beyond the more immediate future, there are some important mid-term priorities:

  • Campaign Management must improve and consolidate response attribution. Campaign Management solutions across the board do a mediocre job of capturing and attributing responses. And, this ability needs to extend beyond the attribution to direct marketing offers, but also merge that with touch points such as: an organic search click through, a TV commercial that is running in the area of the customer with a reach of x% of that area’s population, even a banner or video insert ad view on the Internet at the extreme. The other major piece is the ability to evaluate a series of responses to marketing messages to understand the role that each message or the combination of messages has in getting to the final outcome.
  • Campaign Management must evolve to support new channels. We are finally starting to see interest in mobile channels really heat up (in the US, not just EMEA and APAC). So far execution (i.e., real action) is still primarily focused on SMS/MMS but the exciting shift will be as more consumers adopt advanced mobile devices and further leverage mobile browsers, GPS, etc. Socialchannels are another good example, Campaign Management needs to figure out how to integrate with and support messaging through social networks and communities. Some of this is possible today but the capabilities need to be fleshed out in much more detail.
  • Open EMM will emerge. Feeding off of the need to support new channels, Campaign Management vendors must recognize and accept that  innovation is happening the fastest within the channels and media itself. We’ll see technology like HTML, Flash, SVG, TV, eInk/flexible displays, etc. changing so significantly that our notions of landing pages and website offers, web calls to action, and product placement must change along with it. Marketing software has to be brilliant at decisioning, optimization, and integration as well as pulling all marketing activities together to support cohesive planning, management, and measurement, but the software should never hold back the media and channel innovators from pushing the envelope. So, Campaign Management (call it Enterprise Marketing Management if you like) must provide a system of record and flexible application framework into which channel applications can effectively “plug in.” There will never be a single application that does everything for marketing soup to nuts (and marketing groups will never accept one), the key is for the core software platform to provide the organizing framework, the message decisioning infrastructure, and the measurement capability.
  • SaaS CM will rise and then move into the cloud. Over the next five years the lion’s share of marketing technology innovation will be in software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. As the definition of Campaign Management expands (as noted above) and extends from core direct marketing groups into online groups and into new vertical markets, appetite for easy-to-implement, easy-to-use, lower TCO solutions will escalate. As I also noted previously, a nice by-product of SaaS will be more rapid innovation in the marketing technology sector. But, few highly successful software companies manage their own hosting operations — applications are designed for mega hosting infrastructures (e.g., Microsoft, IBM, Google, Amazon) that have a-million-plus-nodes hosting infrastructure. Smart software companies will design and optimize their apps to leverage virtual servers and storage offered by emerging cloud computing infrastructures.

Beyond these ideas we can dream of technology that supports fully automated marketing processes and black box decisioning, tools that simplify marketing complexity and support collaborative, viral, and community marketing (I don’t know about you, but the ads on Facebook are already starting to get to me!)… We can further imagine that marketing and buyers have a mutual love:love relationship and that marketing has ceased its shouting and focuses purely in a service-oriented role. We’ll continue to work towards that and I’ll continue to preach to it, but if you want me to put my money on the table, I’m telling you that this kind of nirvana is more than 11 years away.

Happy New Year everyone!  I’d love to hear what you are thinking along these lines.

CPM Pricing Will Ultimately Put EMSPs Out Of Business March 5, 2008

Posted by Elana Anderson in Customer Analytics, Database Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Technology, Web Analytics.
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4 comments

After my tirade yesterday against volume-based CPM pricing in the email marketing sector, I was disappointed to see the recent post on Bronto’s blog announcing the vendor’s move towards a volume-based pricing model:

For the last five years, we have priced our clients’ subscriptions by the number of the contacts stored in the application (i.e., list size.) This worked great in the early days because we primarily had small business-to-business customers. As we grew and our business and product became more sophisticated, we attracted more sophisticated clients that send at higher volumes. Since list size mattered less and sending capacity mattered more to them, the model became tougher to match with our clients’ needs and trickier to manage operationally.

My perspective? This may be a way to be competitive in the short term, but ultimately it will put the email service providers (EMSPs) out of business. Simply put, it makes the EMSP nothing more than what I have long referred to as a “dumb pipe” – a platform for bulk pushing out messages. Despite the economic challenges I addressed in my previous post, most (to use Bronto’s words) “sophisticated clients that send at high volumes” are actively working to improve their ability to target and customize their marketing communications in order to increase relevance. As I also noted, this requires tools and the necessary skills to understand and leverage customer data. If the email provider doesn’t provide these tools and services, you can be sure that other providers will be there to fill the gap. Carpe diem.

What To Expect From Your Web Analytics Tool (Web Analytics Series, Part 2) January 15, 2008

Posted by Elana Anderson in Customer Analytics, Database Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Measurement, Marketing Technology, Online Marketing, Web Analytics.
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2 comments

In my post just before the holidays, I shared a framework to help marketers think about how web analytics contributes to data-driven marketing effectiveness over time. Marketers agree that they want to deliver more relevant and timely communications, establish a two-way dialog, and generally be more customer-focused and integrated, but many are struggling to make positive progress. Use the framework to understand understand the maturity of your data-driven marketing practices. Then define your objectives and timeframe for making incremental progress. In this post, I want to discuss how marketers can use their placement on the framework to define the key requirements for their web analytics tools. I work with an awful lot of firms out there that are not getting the benefits that they should be out of the technologies that they purchase. Why? Well, I think one key reason is that they are overly aggressive in their expectations of what they will achieve and over what time. The result is a lot of wasted technology — and wasted time.

Web Analytics Maturity Framework

If we were more realistic about what we are trying to achieve (i.e., the business outcome) with our web analytics tools then I believe our learning curve around how to effectively understand and leverage the data would actually accelerate. Why? Because we wouldn’t be constantly struggling with the technology. The free tools on the market are getting better and, while they are not sufficient for marketers that are beyond Stage 1 maturity, they will meet the needs of many. Here is a starting point to help you get beyond vendor eye candy and align functional requirements with business objectives:

Stage 1: Site analysis

Key questions you need to address:

  • How many visitors are coming to my site?
  • How are visitors using my site?
  • How are visitors finding my site?

Core functional requirements:

  • Visitor analysis
  • Referrer analysis (pages and keywords)
  • Strong library of parameterized “out of the box” reports

Comments on the market: These capabilities are table stakes to enter the web analytics market and most of the solutions out there do a reasonably good job here. Expect a more limited library of reports and more limited customization features from the free tools.

Stage 2: Site optimization

 Key questions you need to address:

  • How can I increase site visibility?
  • How do content and taxonomy influence desired action?
  • What would improve site navigation?

Core functional requirements:

  • Path analysis
  • Page and scenario drilldown analysis
  • Drop-off analysis
  • A/B and multivariate testing

Comments on the market: This is currently an area of focus for leading vendors in the market. The once-standalone optimization players – like Offermatica (acquired by Omniture), Kefta (acquired by Acxiom), and Optimost (acquired by Interwoven) – have been acquired and other vendors are looking to add these capabilities through acquisition or organic development. Given current client emphasis on customer experience management, expect this to continue to be an area of hot competition in the near future.

Stage 3: Segment targeting

 Key questions you need to address:

  • How can I logically group site visitors?
  • How can I target visitor content by segment?
  • How can I leverage site learning in other communication?

Core functional requirements:

  • Segmentation model templates
  • Ability to persist segments
  • Ability to create dynamic segments and apply them historically

Comments on the market: Leading web analytics vendors like Coremetrics, Omniture, Unica, and Visual Sciences (acquired by Omniture) offer segmentation capabilities but this is an area where vendors differentiate.

Stage 4: Individual customization

 Key questions you need to address:

  • What is the best content for an individual based on prior site interaction?
  • Should I reach out to an individual customer NOW?

Core functional requirements:

  • Individual visitor profiles retained over time
  • Ability to match profile to current visitor context – in real-time
  • Ability to unify profiles when visitor identifies

Comments on the market: A few leading vendors are really just starting to focus here. Omniture’s recent acquisition of TouchClarity is a good example. Unica is also working on integrating it’s web analytics and campaign management modules in a meaningful way. But, overall, the vendors are just getting started at figuring this out.

Stage 4: Integrated marketing

 Key questions you need to address:

  • How are customers using online and offline channels in the buying process?
  • How can I optimize online and offline interactions?

Core functional requirements:

  • Calculate and retain key profile metrics
  • Track metrics longitudinally
  • Open data model and facilitation of extracts to other systems

Comments on the market: Today, you’re mostly at the mercy of your internal IT shop when it comes to the level of data integration sophistication required to help marketers in large companies integrate their activities across channels. Some firms call upon their interactive agency, systems integrator, or database marketing service provider to help. But, each approach has its challenges. It may make you feel better to know that no one has nailed this one and that gives us all something to aspire towards. At the end of the day, I believe that if the web analytics vendors want to be part of the solution then they need to hire (or partner) with database marketing gurus in order to make real progress.

Web Analytics Needs To Grow Up (Web analytics series, Part 1) December 11, 2007

Posted by Elana Anderson in Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Database Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Measurement, Marketing Technology, Online Marketing, Web Analytics.
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3 comments

Last week I was privileged to spend the day in the company of several thought leaders in the field of Web Analytics. Dr. Alan Hall, Avinash Kaushik, Judah Phillips, and I participated in several taped panel sessions that focused on how to best leverage web data to improve marketing effectiveness and how to effectively leverage investments in web analytics technology. We were joined by, Steve O’Brien, Akin Arikan, and Karen Hudgins from Unica which sponsored the get together. What struck me most about our conversations (on camera and off) is how committed each of us is to moving Web analytics beyond what today is largely a passive, report-centric discipline towards one that:

  • Improves the effectiveness of individual customer interactions
  • Actively contributes to the understanding of the customer
  • Is a key part of improving marketing’s ability to measure across channels

Five key stages of web analytics maturity

One of the bits of original thinking that I contributed to the discussion was a framework that breaks down five stages of Web Analytics maturity.

Web Analytics Maturity Framework

Don’t pay attention to the stages for the moment… This is not a new picture (I pulled the base graphic from a from a client deck I presented in 1998). And, few would disagree. If a marketer is not leveraging any data to drive marketing communications, just adding a little bit of filtering or segmentation will have a tremendous positive impact on results. But, at some point, our ability to continuously improve results through segmentation levels off. At that point, the way to get the next hockey stick impact on results is to use individual customer data. Definitely not new thinking, but I think it helps level set us that is what “1:1″ or “customer-centric” (you pick the cliché) marketing is all about – using knowledge about the individual customer to drive interactions that, at the end of the day, benefit both parties.

This framework can also help us think about how we are using the mountains of web data that we’re collecting to help us move up and right on the chart. I break the role and the progression of web analytics down into five stages:

  • Stage 1 – Site analysis: When we get started, we’re really just trying to get our arms around the data and the traffic on our site. The focus is to understand how visitors are getting to the site and what they’re doing there. But you also need understand why they’re there and whether they were able to accomplish what they set out to do. How do you do that? Avinash suggests that’s quite simple, ask.
  • Stage 2 – Site optimization: The goal, of course, is to avoid analysis paralysis and look for ways to leverage the insight we are gaining about how visitors access and use the site to drive more visitors to the site, to optimize the experience of visitors once they are on the site, and to help more visitors accomplish what they were trying to do.
  • Stage 3 – Segment targeting: As we continue to focus on improving customer experience, we inevitably start to look for ways to segment visitors into different groups either through data explicitly provided by the visitor or through insight inferred from the session and prior interaction data. We then apply the segmentation to customize visit experiences and target content.
  • Stage 4 – Individual customization: At some point, our ability to continually apply finer segmentation and impact results levels off. That’s when we start to apply individual-level web interaction data to customize online interactions.
  • Stage 5 – Integrated marketing: Of course, the holy grail of all of this is fully integrated and customer-centric marketing in which we seek to integrate insight from online behavior with what we know of an individual across other channels. And, we do this in order to inform and optimize all interactions – regardless of channel – with the individual.

The sad part of all of this is that few companies have matured their Web analytics capabilities beyond Stage 3. In fact, I’d estimate that 80% (not based on a quantitative study!) of firms are at Stage 1 or 2. Why? Well, it’s darn hard! There’s tons of data to wade through, the industry is learning as it goes, and the technologies that help marketers move up the curve are still pretty immature and poorly integrated.

So, how will this framework help?

Use the framework to understand where you are today and what you want to work towards and over what time frame. Each stage of maturity focuses on unique business objectives, requires a different level of analytical savvy, and demands different functional capabilities from your supporting marketing technology.

Over the next several weeks, I will continue to drill down on this topic with additional posts. Please add to the discussion by commenting and providing feedback on the blog or feel free to contact me directly.

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