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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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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.

The weekly catalog take in my household October 26, 2007

Posted by Elana Anderson in Customer Experience, Database Marketing, Marketing, Online Marketing.
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Catalogs                    Catalog Poundage

To further the points I made in yesterday’s post, I thought I’d display the volume of catalogs that come into my household on a weekly basis. I get rid of them every weekend so the picture shows what arrived in my mailbox between Monday and Thursday. The stats: a grand total of 41 catalogs weighing in at 12.2 lbs. And the holiday season is just getting started!

 Why do I get so many catalogs? I am an avid online shopper. It is a matter of pride to me that I haven’t set foot in a store (other than Costco) to do any holiday shopping since 2000. But, I don’t think that individuals that shop online expect — or want — to be overwhelmed with catalogs as a result. To my point yesterday: we in the direct marketing industry need to be leaders in driving the solution. Starting with opt-in (or at least opt-out) to catalogs is a reasonable place to start.

Catalogers, green is in! October 24, 2007

Posted by Elana Anderson in Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Database Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Online Marketing.
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Last week’s article in the New York Times about Catalog Choice got me thinking about the catalog industry.

Now a new online service called Catalog Choice (www.catalogchoice.org) is facilitating attempts to unsubscribe. The site was developed by three nonprofit environmental groups — the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Ecology Center — to relay requests en masse to specific retailers. Since it was introduced last Wednesday, more than 20,000 people have registered.

Now, I know a little something about how a catalog operation works because I ran very large database marketing technology projects at Staples and Eddie Bauer in the mid-late 90’s. So, here’s my take…

The Internet is partially to blame for increased catalog circulation

Despite predictions that the Internet would decrease direct marketing postal mail volumes, a 2005 study by Forrester Research (disclosure: I edited the report) showed that 60% of high-volume direct marketers (those that mail 50M or more pieces annually) planned to increase their mail spend. What that report didn’t say is that the Internet is actually deserves some of the blame for the increase.

Maybe this bucks conventional wisdom, but think about it. In the old days, catalogers could only build their house file by buying lists and participating in cooperative data sharing initiatives like Abacus. Now, if someone comes and buys on my site, then of course I’m going to add them to my house file. And, I’m also going to add them to my list for my sister brands too. It’s a no brainer. So, today, catalogers still use tools like Abacus and they also assume that every online shopper also wants a catalog. Pretty presumptuous, don’t you think?

Well, today’s over marketed and increasingly environmentally conscious consumers won’t have it. That’s what gives rise to organizations like Catalog Choice. And, this is just the beginning.

The industry needs to take action

I definitely don’t have all the answers here. Catalogers are in a tough place and I sympathize. When each catalog turns a profit, it’s hard to come up with a business case to stop. But I think the industry needs to take the lead and start working on the problem. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

  1. Enable online customers to opt-out (better yet, IN) of catalogs on your site. You do this for email right? Technically you don’t have to –the CAN-SPAM law only mandates that you honor an opt-out. But, you do it because consumers fought back against email spam. So do it for your catalogs too (catalogs are a lot more expensive than email after all). It’s not hard to add another flag to your database that you check in your campaign list pull process. I am not aware that any retailers are doing this today – it’s time to start.

  2. Allow customers to limit the number of catalogs they receive. Some retailers I’ve worked with send as many as 60 mailings a year to a single household – that’s a lot of paper! Take the catalog opt-in a step further and give your customers a choice to limit the number of catalogs their household receives every year. Now, it’s up to you to figure out – through modeling and contact optimization techniques – which catalogs will drive the most return from that household within the customer’s set limit.

  3. Tighten up the deduplication rules. So, my husband and I don’t have the same last name. That doesn’t mean that we want duplicates of every catalog in our house. I had this argument with a client in 1995. The response I got was, “The catalog could be going to a sorority house or an apartment – we want to get as many eyeballs on each book as possible.” Well, with a little external data and a tad more technical elbow grease, you can easily determine that I live in a residential suburb in a single family home. So, please, don’t send me two catalogs and save yourself a tree and a few bucks in the process.

Sure, the ideas I’m proposing will limit your reach, but they WILL help the environment and be viewed as a step in the right direction by your greening customer base. You can get some leverage from this – publicize the fact that you are committed to being more green and helping the environment. But be careful with this part, don’t say you are green and fail to walk the talk – today’s consumer is watching and now has plenty of channels through which to be heard.