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See my interview on InsideCRM December 9, 2008

Posted by Elana Anderson in Database Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Technology.
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I’ve gotten some comments and emails from blog readers recently asking me where I’ve been and why I haven’t posted lately. SORRY! The new job at Unica has been very, very busy – somewhat all consuming really. I have been traveling a ton recently and spending a lot of time with customers and prospects. I will pull myself together and share some more detailed thoughts soon.  

In the mean time, here are a couple of links to recent publications and events:

I’ll be back again soon.

Next Generation Campaign Management August 18, 2008

Posted by Elana Anderson in Database Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Technology, Online Marketing.
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Campaign-management technology has long been associated with the creation and deployment of outbound marketing campaigns. It’s time to change that. Marketing can no longer afford to simply act as a bullhorn pushing the product du jour or blasting cross-sell and up-sell offers.

Marketing experts have been talking about ad overload for years now. Simply put:

  • Consumers are overwhelmed with ad content.
  • They are tuning the messages out.
  • Response rates are declining while costs are rising.

Marketing organizations must evolve by shifting their communications strategy away from one-size fits all push marketing to a more customer-centric strategy that leverages the increasing proliferation of addressable channels and strives for responsiveness to individual customer behaviors. This shift requires marketing organizations to get beyond the old-style outbound campaign construct and seek to engage customers and prospects in a cross-channel dialog that builds upon their past and current behavior (I refer to this new style of marketing as interactive marketing). To do this effectively, marketers need technologies that enable them to:

  • Listen to all information provided by customers and prospects — both explicit and implied.
  • Understand past and present information to determine the best possible marketing action.
  • Communicate in a compelling, timely, and relevant manner.

What’s more, technologies must enable marketers to interact across inbound as well as outbound channels in an integrated way. Enter next-generation campaign management.

Characteristics of Next-Generation Campaign Management

Helping marketing organizations achieve this transition requires marketing technology providers to step up and outside the box. Campaign management is no longer about segmentation and list pull. Next-generation campaign management technologies must emerge that:

  • Are customer-aware. The key to listening is the ability to capture what a buyer is saying — both explicitly and implicitly — and to process that information to determine what to say next. This requires a campaign-management solution that has the capability to leverage and process both a customer’s past history, as well as present situation, in order to make predictions about likely future behavior.
  • Provide centralized decision making. Capturing both what the customer says, as well as how he responds to what you say, is fundamental to the shift to interactive marketing. That means next-generation campaign management solutions must provide a centralized decision-making capability that determines the best marketing message to extend in outbound and inbound marketing channels — online and offline.
  • Enable cross-channel execution. Your buyers interact with you across multiple channels and expect both a consistent and seamless experience as they move between channels. Anyone involved with a customer experience initiative knows this is a hard problem to solve. Next-generation campaign management solutions can help. By enabling cross-channel (inbound/outbound, online/offline) execution and providing the fundamental capability to compile a comprehensive marketing communication and response history, next-generation campaign management can help drive message and treatment consistency as well as a seamless experience as customers interact with the enterprise.
  • Integrate marketing operations. In any mid-sized or large company today, effective interactive marketing along the lines of what I’m describing has a lot of moving parts and requires collaboration across many disparate groups within the marketing function. To ease these challenges, next-generation campaign management must help marketers improve collaboration and facilitate cross-channel planning, design, execution, and measurement.

Fusing Relationship Marketing And Online Marketing July 22, 2008

Posted by Elana Anderson in Database Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing.
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For nearly the past 15 years, my career has been focused on helping marketers leverage data to better understand and more effectively market to customers on an individual level. In my early days in the industry, I worked primarily with marketing groups leveraging offline channels like catalogs and other forms of direct mail. In recent years, I’ve spent most of my time working with relationship marketing and database marketing groups and with online marketing groups. What amazes me (and is my key topic of my post today) is that while these marketers view themselves as so different they are really starting to converge.

Marketing Channels Are Evolving

There’s lots of change happening in the marketing domain. It’s a time of uncertainty but also one of opportunity.  Marketing channels are evolving at a rapid rate:

  • Mass media is less and less effective as audiences fragment and adopt technologies and tools (like DVRs) that enable them to tune out ads.
  • The Internet is no longer “new media” since most consumers are online.
  • Traditional outbound direct marketing channels require more analytic sophistication as response rates decline and more states consider and adopt privacy legislation.

Addressability Is the Common Link

Addressable channels are channels both outbound and inbound – through which marketing can communicate directly with an individual – identifiable or anonymous. This includes traditional direct marketing channels including direct mail and phone, internet channels like Web sites, email, mobile, and social media and, as technology and distribution capabilities continue to evolve, even traditional mass marketing channels like TV, billboards, and radio.

As addressable channels become more prevalent, marketers are recognizing that they need new skills to effectively engage, communicate, and interact with customers. Specifically, marketers must:

  • Listen to all information provided by customers and prospects – both explicit and implied.
  • Understand past and present information to determine the best possible marketing action.
  • Communicate in a compelling, timely, and relevant manner.

What’s more, marketers must do this across inbound as well as outbound channels and in an integrated way.

Interactive Marketing Will Emerge As A Dominant Marketing Discipline

I believe that the best term to describe the fusion of these capabilities is “interactive marketing” which I will define as:

Engaging each customer and prospect in a cross-channel dialog that builds upon their past and current behavior.

Although the term isn’t new, few (other than Prof. John Deighton of Harvard who is widely credited with coining the term) define it as broadly as I have here.

What’s interesting is that, in many organizations, the required capabilities already reside in different parts of the company – relationship marketing, database marketing, online marketing, ecommerce, etc. Unfortunately, rather than integrating these skills many of the companies I talk with are adding duplicate capabilities within stovepipe marketing groups. The result? A widening gap between “online” and “direct” marketing functions.

Rather than continuing to grow the silos, companies should explore cross-training, opening lines of communication, and integrating marketing teams that communicate with customers via addressable channels.

Demonstrating The Brand Value Of Email January 29, 2008

Posted by Elana Anderson in Customer Analytics, Database Marketing, Marketing Measurement, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing.
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I had the opportunity to catch up with Robert Raines, VP of Product Management & Creative Services at E-LOAN last week. I first met Robert several years ago when he was getting the company’s email programs off the ground. Robert shared with me some of the things that he’s accomplished since we last spoke and, as always, he had some great insights.

E-LOAN wanted to evaluate the impact of its email program 

Robert is a firm believer in testing and, more specifically, using control groups to measure the impact of email marketing activities. To determine the long-term benefit of its email program, the E-LOAN team created a randomly selected universal control group. While the control group still received transactional email communications (e.g., “We have received your application”), it received no email marketing treatment whatsoever for a period of 18 months.

To ensure that individuals selected into the control group were excluded from all email marketing efforts, the team created an exclusion table in its marketing database and automatically excluded the control group from any database extracts that were sent to its email service provider (Responsys).

What E-LOAN learned

What was E-LOAN looking for? The company wanted to evaluate the application rate of the mailed population vs. that of the unmailed population (the control group) over an 18-month period. As you might expect, at the beginning of the test there was very little difference in the application rate of the two groups. But, over time, the emailed population had a significantly higher application rate. So much higher that, according to Robert, the difference alone is enough to justify the total annual cost of the company’s email program.

Robert is also quick to point out that it’s not just about being in the inbox that matters. The E-LOAN team works hard to ensure that its email program is relevant and it uses a mixed strategy that includes broadcast messages (e.g., “The Fed has lowered interest rates”) and highly targeted, event-triggered communications.

Recommendations

Email marketers often complain that they don’t have enough staff and struggle to manage what’s already on their plate given the staff that they have. I believe that this complaint becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy… Email is cheap, just blast it out, and we’ll keep the bare bones operation going… To break through this cycle, email marketing managers should:

  • Devote 6-8 hours of the team’s time to implementing a test and measurement strategy. As a manager myself, I know that it’s possible to squeeze some amount of extra time out of the week. If you are really committed to making email marketing more strategic in your company, find 15-20% of someone’s time and focus it on test and measurement as Robert has done at E-LOAN. Sure, the E-LOAN test that I’ve shared here took 18 months, so start with something smaller. For instance, test the difference between a broadcast newsletter and a newsletter with dynamically targeted content.
  • Trend results over time. A quick test to show that targeted content generates higher open and click rates is indeed interesting. But, it’s more interesting to trend this information over time to evaluate the sustained value of a targeted vs. untargeted program.
  • Document a business case. If your goal is to improve the internal stature of your email efforts, get more budget, and grow your team, then it’s imperative to document your case. Avoid doing this at an individual campaign level and comparing metrics — like opens and clicks — against industry averages. Focus on the bigger picture and build a case that exposes the real business value of your efforts. What is the ROI of targeted vs. broadcast communications? Or, as in the E-LOAN example, do your customers buy more if they receive email marketing communications from you? This is the kind of case that your bosses need to free up more resources.
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