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Six tips for turning big data into huge insights

Eric Williams, former Executive VP and Chief Information Officer, Catalina Marketing

Did you know that more than 5 billion people are calling, texting, tweeting and browsing on mobile phones worldwide? And that Facebook now handles the interactions of 1 billion users with more than 900 million objects (pages, groups, etc.) every day?

Clearly, marketers can’t afford to ignore the data coming from all these channels, or the demands from what Eric Williams, formerly of Catalina Marketing, calls the “me” generation. Today’s customer has her own music, her own personal trainer, her own Facebook page where she invites her own friends – she may even have her own personalized coffee flavor.

“You have to take that into consideration,” said Williams during a recent Loyalty 360 webinar. “As you begin to build out your marketing campaign, consumers have an expectation that offers, advertising and promotions will be customized uniquely for them.” Accomplishing this is not trivial, Williams added. He shared these six tips to help loyalty leaders understand how to do it well.

Tip 1 – Drive Results with Relevance
To entice and keep customers, Williams said, marketing has to be consistently targeted and relevant. One organization surveyed consumers to ask how they would like for businesses to talk to them. There were five key points:

  • Keep it short and to the point; tell me quickly what I want to know.
  • Let me choose to see it when it’s convenient for me.
  • Make sure it’s personally communicated by trusted friends or experts.
  • Give me information about price discounts and other special deals.
  • Customize it to fit my specific needs and interests.

 Tip 2 – Use New Channels to Yield Better Insights
To reach consumers, marketers continually expand their reach into new, popular channels. With mass marketing, like TV ads, there’s usually no way to know which customers came from that particular promotion. “You’re better able to understand the effectiveness of the new channels than you are the old channels,” Williams said.

For example, the only way to get an offer that’s placed on a Facebook page is by going to Facebook – so it’s easy to find out who is using that offer. With this level of visibility, marketers can easily understand how effective their programs are, said Williams. “The challenge is that you don’t have all your customers [in any single channel]. So you can’t spend all your money on any one area.”

Tip 3 – Find New Customers Using Customer Analytics
Traditional marketing revolved around products – marketers simply looked for the best customers to purchase their product. That approach doesn’t work anymore, said Williams.

Today, Williams said, “The customer is queen.” You have to find the products that best suit her, and then prove why they’re relevant. If you can keep the customer happy with each shopping experience, you can be fairly certain that she’ll keep coming back to buy more.

 Tip 4 – Optimize Customer Incentives
Once you know which customers you should target, you’ll need to select the ideal offers. But how do you figure out what offers to make to each customer? A retailer could have between 10 million and 20 million consumers, Williams said. A grocery store could have 500 or more offers at any given time. You might want a customer to qualify for at least three offer groups in order to receive a distribution. But there needs to be a limit, too. So if a customer qualifies for more than five offer groups, he should only receive the five highest-priority offers.

 People are not equipped to manually manipulate tens of billions of permutations of values, offers and priorities. So it’s not as easy as sitting down with an Excel spreadsheet. Optimization software, Williams said, can perform this type of work quickly and accurately.

Tip 5 – Eliminate Channel-Centric Thinking
Identifying the type of media to use with today’s offers is more involved than choosing between print or email – and you can’t simply run it through a campaign. Instead, your offer needs to be specifically geared to individual customers. And you need to add a multichannel capability into the offer pool so that you can integrate it and figure out the preferred channel for each customer.

 The offer optimization process encompasses an unbelievably challenging matrix, said Williams. “This is why most businesses that I’ve spoken to are still challenged at running campaigns individually. They may run an email program, and then they’ll use a different set of offers and put out a text program, and they’ll do another set of offers as a print program. It all has to be integrated to truly make a difference.”

Tip 6 – Value Math and Marketing as a Match Made in Heaven
As it creates innovative marketing solutions to address a wide range of goals, how does Catalina know they’ll get the results they want? Williams identified three core mathematics-based technologies that have helped Catalina’s customers achieve success with their marketing programs:

  • Data mining and predictive analytics. These technologies can quickly uncover all types of information inherent – but not necessarily obvious – in business data.
  • Offer optimization. This technology ensures that offers are used to their highest potential. Catalina Marketing uses SAS® Marketing Automation to perform this task.
  • Media optimization. Technologies that help you make the most of each customer contact can significantly improve campaign returns.

 For more, register to watch the webcast or download the full white paper: Six Tips for Turning Big Data into Huge Insights.

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