How To Reduce The Risk Of Bad Marketing Decisions - An Acxiom White Paper


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Not knowing the best actions to take when
marketing to consumers can be a gamble.
Important insight is buried deep inside oceans of data. Often, customer data may seem either out of reach or too complicated to be useful.

Co-ordinating numerous third parties and
internal departments along with finding the
right personnel to analyse and execute refined campaigns are complicated tasks for most marketing groups.

How can marketers make wise campaign
decisions? Is there an easier way to deliver
relevant cross-channel messages to prospects and customers?

Read on to find out...

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How To Reduce The Risk Of Bad Marketing Decisions - An Acxiom White Paper

  1. 1. An Acxiom White Paper How to reduce the risk of bad marketing decisions The many advantages of affordable cross-channel marketing solutions By Steve Merritt and Will Nipper with assistance from Farrell Wilson
  2. 2. Deciding where to invest marketing budget often carries the same risks as spinning a roulette wheel. Placing the company chips on a few intuitively selected marketing ideas could pay off or bust the company. Marketing directors must deliver, but often lack the advanced tools that can lead to success. Not knowing the best actions to take when Trends influencing marketing marketing to consumers can be a gamble. A growing number of channels and the pressure Important insight is buried deep inside oceans to do more with less are two key drivers of data. Often, customer data may seem either motivating marketing to change. These trends out of reach or too complicated to be useful. also create conflicts for marketing. “Proliferation Co-ordinating numerous third parties and of choice offers marketers new opportunities internal departments along with finding the such as social networks, mobile and branded right personnel to analyse and execute refined entertainment. Each of these has its own success campaigns are complicated tasks for most metric and dynamic, making comparison marketing groups. Add in cross-channel and the calculation of ROI impossible,” stated a consumer preferences and the result is a Forrester Research report.1 New channels mean complex knot that cannot be undone by more work for marketing. As marketing most organisations. departments face pressure to cut budgets whilst expanding capabilities, technology will play an How can marketers make wise campaign important role in enabling success, stated a decisions? Is there an easier way to deliver Gartner study.2 relevant cross-channel messages to prospects and customers? To meet these challenges, many companies are turning to affordable cross-channel marketing solutions. Designed to bring the power of high-end database marketing tools to mid-sized organisations, these solutions enable marketing groups to execute automated cross-channel The growing importance of customer data will campaigns based on intelligent insight rather enable businesses to deliver more streamlined than intuition. This white paper will examine the challenges faced by marketing and reveal the marketing campaigns that reduce costs many advantages of affordable cross-channel marketing solutions.
  3. 3. Leveraging customer insight will be an important Part of the problem is the long arm of marketing. key to success. “The customer database, initially For example, database marketing, product built in most organisations to support direct marketing, creative advertising, branding, media marketing, is increasingly being used far beyond planning, marketing communications and public its original purpose,” stated a Forrester Research relations are just a sampling of the groups that study.3 The study found that the customer create messages that influence customers. When database is influencing many different activities, partners such as marketing service providers, such as telemarketing, customer segmentation market research firms, email service providers and strategies, market research, contact optimisation, direct marketing companies are added to the mix, traditional advertising, public relations, search the resulting communication co-ordination can be marketing, customer service calls, product overwhelming. Then consider how a customer development and product pricing. behaves when contacting the call centre, visiting the company website or responding to emails. However, marketers face major challenges Accessing and interpreting mountains of customer bringing customer information into their databases data spread across groups is a Herculean task for and delivering integrated messages across many marketing departments. channels. Research shows that businesses are actually worse off than they were just a few years ago. A Forrester Research study found that the number of businesses integrating communications across channels has dropped, To eliminate the perception that marketing from 62% in 2005 to only 43% in 2007.4 This is is a cost centre, marketing efforts must be most likely due to the growing complexity of the many available channels. related back to sales. Challenges that deter marketing’s success Three major challenges stand in the way of the marketing department’s success: the inability to As a result of data deluge, usable customer prove that marketing efforts are working, out of and prospect information is actually sparse. control spending and different groups competing For example, Forrester Research found that for the same customers. only half of businesses claim to have both email and physical addresses for more than 40% Measuring the immeasurable of their customer records.5 Making the case that marketing is having an impact becomes Marketing is facing increased pressure to justify particularly challenging when the results cannot its expenses. Because data resides in a variety of be connected to sales. Fortunately, new information sources and among different groups, solutions are attacking these problems head-on. it's often impossible to know how a marketing activity directly impacts on sales. This can lead to the perception that marketing is a cost centre in need of trimming.
  4. 4. Wasteful spending Because not all customer data is in one place, marketing departments often employ anecdotal contact strategies in the hope that ‘something When customer data does not reside in a central will work’. Rather than making evidence-based location, different departments often send decisions, marketing must often take a shot in the dark, hoping customers will respond. conflicting messages to the same customers. Departmental groups that are understaffed This typically results in multiple - and often or fear internal competition are often responsible conflicting - offers to the same customer. For example, an email campaign promoting a discount for stalling integrated marketing efforts. can improve conversions. However, the same campaign offered to a consumer who has already purchased the product or service could damage the overall customer experience. The result of When multiple departments must work together duplicated marketing is wasted materials and for cross-channel marketing, challenges inefficient spending. often occur. The fear of internal competition, co-ordinating with multiple service providers, This becomes more complicated when many and working with data from different systems different third parties are employed to help represent some of the major issues. Adding communicate with customers. For example, different philosophical perspectives on marketing one partner might handle email and the other further complicates efforts. For example, the direct mail. Because customer actions and insight online group is often a new generation of are locked inside different data repositories, marketers, while traditional channel champions making informed contact decisions becomes may not fully understand the value or operation virtually impossible. The end result is often of online channels. A brief examination of how “over marketing” to customers. However, new the marketing department has used information technology is helping marketing gain better over time provides further insight. insight to intelligently direct its marketing efforts. Brief history of marketing databases Marketing silos hinder progress In the mid-1990s, marketing departments built Many marketing executives see the value of large, separate databases for customers and integrating marketing channels, but lack the prospects. A number of different tools were in-house resources to properly implement such used with the databases to execute and track efforts. Marketing silos inside the organisation campaigns. For example, data mining, campaign complicate this. “Most firms structure their management and reporting tools were common. business around products or channels. As a However, marketers needed to learn to use all result, they lack a cross business understanding of these separate applications. The good news of the value of individual customers. The result? was they replaced paper and complex Communications are seldom co-ordinated or spreadsheets. The bad news was that it took a consistent across lines of business or channels,” long time to execute campaigns because of the stated Forrester Research.6 many steps and tools. When multiple, isolated databases function across business units, the result is a lack of a central repository of customer data and no understanding Marketing databases and tools have grown of a customer's relationship to the entire business. According to Forrester Research, with the emergence of new channels, “each team focuses on maximising the results creating many different tools that must be of its respective business or channel without any consideration for optimising the value of leveraged to gain customer insight. each customer on an enterprise-wide basis.”
  5. 5. By around 2000, large database companies began acquiring and assimilating individual tools into one larger solution. This meant a single Affordable cross-channel marketing solutions company could provide everything under one enable simple execution of marketing brand. However, new channels, such as email, were growing in popularity. As a result, the campaigns based on a complete view of number of tools and databases increased for their customers’ behaviour and preferences online and offline efforts. Ultimately, the cost of using database tools dropped and results improved. However, the continuing emergence of new channels meant it took longer to With this type of solution, customers can be prepare campaigns. easily segmented into groups based on actual knowledge of their behaviour. For example, By 2005, many tools became fully integrated high-value customers can easily be located with databases. Marketers could quickly begin and offered special incentives. Alternatively, analysis with much smaller learning curves. This customers exhibiting behaviour similar to offered greater efficiencies and enabled marketing high-value customers can be nurtured into departments to execute more campaigns with more valuable relationships. less effort. However, marketers still needed to start tracking channel preferences and maintain privacy and legal requirements. Today, there are far more channels, making integrated marketing efforts even more difficult. The next step: affordable cross-channel marketing solutions Designed to help marketers make informed decisions and measure success, affordable cross- channel marketing solutions are empowering marketing groups with the same high-powered tools used by the UK's top companies, but without the great expense. These solutions combine customer and prospect data in a single repository, bringing together data from multiple departments and partners for greater insight and advanced contact strategies. Now all the essential tools and processes are available in one automated solution that works across channels. By gathering and organising customer contact information and transactional history, affordable cross-channel marketing solutions can provide a single view of each customer and prospect (see Figure 1). Now the full picture of a customer’s interaction across departments and channels is fully revealed. Figure 1: The top image demonstrates the many data sources that provide a partial picture of a consumer. The lower image shows how all of that data can be brought together to provide a complete view of a customer, enabling unified analysis, optimisation and messaging. Figure 1
  6. 6. Affordable yet powerful The benefits of affordable cross-channel marketing solutions These solutions are affordable because they automate and standardise typical consumer Affordable cross-channel marketing solutions provide marketing procedures. Predefined functionality many important advantages tomarketing teams: allows marketers to begin using the solution • Empowers marketers to make analytically immediately, while providing optional driven, fact-based marketing decisions customisation. In addition, advanced solutions are pre-configured for specific vertical industries • Enables cross-channel communication based such as retail, insurance, travel and entertainment. on behaviour and preferences, improving Another reason these solutions cost less is response because they are hosted; meaning no upfront • Demonstrates the effectiveness of marketing hardware expenses or on-site installation campaigns with comprehensive reporting is required. and tracking Critical capabilities • Eliminates up-front capital outlay, enabling faster implementation Once data is piped into the system, key data recognition and hygiene procedures are • Centralises customer data into a single automated. This means that a customer who location for advanced marketing tactics interacts with different departments, systems or • Empowers directors to market more channels is easily determined and all actions and intelligently and with more relevant offers preferences are properly attributed to that one person. For example, data from point-of-sale, • Speeds campaign efficiency by planning and reservation, transactional, sales and operational executing campaigns in less than an hour systems are all aggregated and properly analysed • Enables marketers to deliver more relevant to provide actionable customer intelligence. messages to fewer individuals with greater return With this central view of customers, • Reduces costs by eliminating duplicate or marketers can: inaccurate customer data • Analyse customer data • Calculates the cost of campaigns automatically Valuable customers can be found and key • Helps manage campaigns within budget sources of prospects revealed. parameters • Segment customers • Enables the creation of smaller, Customers can now be easily grouped more effective campaigns. and marketed to based on a variety of characteristics, such as profitability, behaviour, propensity to purchase and channels used. • Manage campaigns Campaigns can be easily managed across Affordable cross-channel marketing channels, such as call centre, email and solutions allow delivery of direct mail. Campaign execution can be better results at lower costs fully automated and occur simultaneously across channels.
  7. 7. Example: responding to a market crash • End-to-end integration The ideal solution should handle all critical A travel company was about to send an offer for processes, from data import and cleansing a high-end property. However, the stock market to campaign management and reporting. took a major downturn and economic pundits In addition, online and offline touch points said the problem would be likely to go on for should be integrated. some time. Knowing the planned offer would not resonate with consumers, they quickly • Optional demographic and lifestyle data re-evaluated their options. After crafting new Work with a company that can add accurate messaging and a new target, the company demographic and lifestyle data to your existing decided to test response with a low-cost, customer database. Such insight should come targeted email campaign to a specific group from multiple high-quality sources. Possible of its customers. types of data may include geographic location, age, income, family type and life stage. • Sixty-day implementations Look for a solution that can be rapidly implemented in only two months to help A travel company responds to market marketing departments quickly begin conditions and rapidly creates, tests and seeing results. executes a new, more effective campaign • Cross-channel message delivery Ask if the company can deliver messages via direct mail, email, the Web and mobile channels, and if they offer real-time customisation of messages. Using a simple Web-based interface, they were • Privacy and preferences able to pinpoint the appropriate consumers and Work with a company that understands immediately send the offer. After a few hours, the complexities of compliance with privacy they determined the offer was very effective and laws and can help ensure consumer broadened their scope to a larger group of similar communication preferences are observed. consumers, using traditional channels such as direct mail. What should have taken weeks was done in mere days. Look for a solution that requires no upfront What to look for in an affordable cross- hardware or software investment and can channel marketing solution be rapidly implemented When shopping for affordable cross-channel marketing solutions, consider these important requirements: • Industry-specific expertise • Affordable subscription model Seek a company that understands the The ideal solution should not require any unique requirements of your industry and up-front hardware or software investments. offers pre-packaged, industry-specific Look for a hosted solution that has a simple, marketing functionality. flat-rate monthly fee. • Marketing strategy and execution • Fully functional campaign management If needed, look for a company that can capabilities develop a full customer intelligence solution Seek a solution that includes campaign roadmap. This can include creative services, management tools, eliminating the need executing campaigns across channels, to invest inmultiple applications. evaluating performance and making process • Highly granular customer segmentation improvements. It is especially helpful to work The solution should offer precise customer with a company that can understand and segmentation to improve campaign results assess existing capabilities and provide and deliver ultra-relevant messages and offers. investment advice to help improve returns.
  8. 8. The Acxiom advantage Acxiom’s MarketEdge-X™ provides high- performance marketing power at affordable prices. Built to enable marketing departments to deliver MarketEdge-X provides business-critical insight cross-channel marketing campaigns based and allows simplified campaign execution, on a full knowledge of customer behaviour and without breaking the budget. preferences, the solution is helping businesses make intelligent marketing decisions. Powered by Acxiom’s AbiliTec® customer recognition system, MarketEdge-X provides marketers with a comprehensive view of its customers, delivered with un-matched speed and accuracy. Built on a 35-year legacy of delivering marketing databases for the world’s largest companies, MarketEdge-X brings the same tools, techniques and experiences to growing businesses. Built as an easy-to-use, drag and drop application, the solution allows for the rapid execution of integrated cross-channel marketing campaigns. Acxiom’s vertical industry consultants can help create better online user experiences for consumers and find the best media channels (such as the Internet and mobile devices) for added revenue sources. Acxiom marketing specialists can help analyse existing internal corporate data, develop a strategy, deploy optimised customer communications and provide back-end reporting. With offices in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and South America, Acxiom is well equipped to meet the global needs of consumer companies. Start making highly informed marketing decisions based on true consumer insight. Let Acxiom show you the way. 1 Kemp. M. B. & Kim, P. (February 8, 2008). Forrester Research. The connected agency. 2 Collins, K. (August 19, 2008). Gartner. Eight facts every CIO needs to know about marketing technology decisions. 3 Frankland, D. (March 11, 2008). Forrester Research. The customer database amps up its influence. 4 Ibid. 5 Frankland, D. (March 11, 2008). Forrester Research. The customer database amps up its influence. 6 Frankland, D. (October 22, 2008). Forrester Research. Defining an enterprisewide customer contact strategy.
  9. 9. For more information on MarketEdge-X, call 0800 035 2755 or visit for more information about Acxiom’s affordable cross-channel marketing solution. Acxiom Ltd Counting House 53 Tooley Street London SE1 2QN UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7526 5100 Fax: +44 (0)20 7526 5200 © 2009 Acxiom Corporation. All rights reserved. Acxiom and AbiliTec are registered trademarks of Acxiom Corporation. MarketEdge-X is a trademark of Acxiom Corporation. All other trademarks and service marks mentioned herein are property of their respective owners. 31/03/09