Marketing in the mobile age

Marketing execs from financial services and telecommunications look at the future of campaigns

Get a pop-up on your phone to alert you to stores, services, special events or opportunities near your current location.

Visit an in-store kiosk to shop online options that aren’t in the store. See goods specifically recommended for you based on your demographics, past purchases and website activity.

And when you have selected that perfect product, wave your smartphone to pay and earn your customer loyalty points.

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Shopping is not what it used to be, and neither is marketing. The marketing environment has been reinvented in the last 20 years by digital technologies, especially the Internet and mobile devices. Seventy percent of US smartphone users use their devices for shopping. Tablets and laptops provide screen real estate for rich mobile marketing communications. GPS enables new location-based services. Email, pop-up notifications, banner ads and pay-per-click ads provide more ways for marketers to reach their audiences.

Trouble is, marketers were already grappling with complexity. How can marketers perform effectively in a landscape that is not only more complicated, but flooded in big data – one where answers are needed with new urgency?

That was the focus of a SAS Global Forum Executive Conference session where marketing experts from financial services and telecommunications shared these best practices for managing campaigns in the multichannel, real-time world:

1 Find the data that can help you.

“Get your ducks in a row,” said the vice president of direct marketing at a large consumer financing agency. “Find out where all the data resides within the organization. Figure out where it makes sense to link that data. Before you go out trying to find the best external data, clean up your own backyard and get it really tidy, because there are a lot of synergies to be found when you have your own data talking to each other.

“Since we generate more than 20 million new accounts and handle about 850 million transactions a year, there's a lot of data available to us. When you factor in the other data assets we have access to – purchased data and data from our retail partners – overlaid on our customer data, it can become extremely powerful.”

2 Integrate the data to create that essential 360-degree view.

Marketers have been talking about this holy grail for decades, yet for many organizations, this first step is still a stumbling block.“As marketers, we understand the concept, we understand the value, and we all want to get to that ‘one source of the truth,’” said the director of customer marketing for a mobile communications carrier. “What strikes me is that I’m in a relatively new industry, and we’re already complaining about our legacy systems and how difficult it is to get data converted. The telecom industry has been changing very quickly; there have been a lot of mergers and acquisitions, which brings a lot of legacy systems into the organization.

“And then we start different initiatives, we're slow to retire anything, and we end up with a huge infrastructure of IT systems that need to be maintained. That effort consumes a lot of resources that we would rather be investing in new initiatives. So that’s one of our challenges – making sure that all those key departments are aligned and moving in the same direction. It’s an ongoing problem that marketers are all trying to solve.”

3 Bring in nontraditional data sources.

New data streams from digital channels can be influential sources of new insight, such as website analysis and text analysis. “We’re able to look at website patterns – what websites customers are visiting, and how they interact with that website,” said the senior vice president of customer insight and loyalty for a major investment firm.

“We capture voice recordings of conversations in our call centers, go through those transcripts with our analytical software, find prevalent keywords, structure that information, and put it into analytical models. We’re finding that to be powerful for augmenting our knowledge about customers.”

Consider the hidden value in social media data as well. If you think of sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest as just playgrounds for egocentric banter, think again. Your customers are out there, talking about your brand, for better or for worse. That makes social media a potential treasure trove of intelligence about your customers, your organization and the competition.

4 Use analytics to find the next best offer.

For an organization that has relationships with 12 million investors and manages a wide variety of financial products and services, determining the next best offer is a delicate art, made even more complex by the diversity of its client base.

“On one end of the spectrum, we have sophisticated, active traders who do options trading and day trading,” said a customer intelligence executive for the firm. “And on the other end of the spectrum, we have customers who may be focused on saving for retirement or their kids’ college tuition. Data is really critical for us to understand this diverse set of needs and to be able to deliver the right message, the right offer, the right communication, the right editorial content to that individual customer or prospect at the right time.”

You want to cross-sell and up-sell where it is appropriate for the customer, but you don’t want one product line to cannibalize another if the end result doesn’t meet the best interests of the company and the customer. You don’t want different product lines marketing to their own customers, without regard for other marketing efforts made to the same customers.

Avoiding these pitfalls starts with that cohesive view of customers across the organization, overlaid with other relevant data sets. The second piece of it is being able to see the patterns in that data, to understand customer dynamics to develop some predictive capabilities.

*Excerpted from the white paper Best Practices in Real-time and Multichannel Campaign Management.

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Two more tips

Get on good terms with the legal department

“There’s tremendous regulatory scrutiny over how banks manage data. We had to develop a close relationship with Legal, so they could understand what we’re trying to do with our customers, and we could understand what we can and cannot do from a marketing standpoint,” said a direct marketing executive for a credit card services firm.

Get ready for the payment revolution

Within a few years, most of us will not be paying for things with cash or plastic. Which e-payment model(s) will prevail? Ultimately, consumers will decide. Stay on top of the trends and make sure you’re ready for whatever mechanism is going to take hold.


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