Tag Archives: data-driven marketing

Your Customers Can’t Wait Any Longer: They Need You to be Data Literate, Too

We in the vendor world like to talk about ourselves. A lot. We like to talk about how our products are so smart, so user-friendly, so useful, so valuable, and so mission-critical. So many pats on our own backs. I find it educational and humbling to sit back once in a while and observe the vendor activity on my Twitter and LinkedIn feeds.

To be fair, my company is as guilty as any other company in the way product information and its importance to business is trumpeted across networks. Also, and again to be fair, this is not a bad thing on its own. After all, it’s just advertising. It’s bad though if your customers grow weary of the onslaught.

Do you know if they are?

The onslaught of anything causes deflection or shutdown. I know I switch the channel on the treadmill when commercials come on, just as I do when I click on a link and it opens a website that includes autoplay of a video. Close it down, shut it off, make it stop. Those kinds of consumer reactions are not what marketers envision from their campaigns. The same principle — and same set of reactions — holds for existing customers on the receiving end of your messaging.

So What Do Customers Want?

Good question. They want lots of things. They want products that are easy to use and do what the vendor says they will. They want accurate and fast basic service when they need it, and they want real expertise available when they are in a situation that warrants it. They’re willing to pay for that last piece, by the way. Are any of those things unreasonable? No.

Customers want more because we vendors have elevated their expectations. We’re delivering more features, functionality, and business value through our products and solutions all the time. While their lives can be more complicated as a result, the net effect is that technological solutions are having a positive effect on their businesses.

That’s one form of onslaught, but it’s a form that customers are attracted to. An onslaught of value is a good thing.

The scene turns sour, though, when our vendor voice drowns out their customer one. When customers feel they have to struggle to get those (in their minds) minimum service expectations I listed above met, that’s when they feel vendors are only interested in themselves. There are Voice of the Customer programs, which, of course, have the potential for offering tremendous listening value, but how else can vendors show they care?

Climb The Mountain of Data

How about using the vast amount of data collected each day from your customers’ use of your product? How about leveraging the data that you already know about the kind of business they’re in and how successful they’ve been, the products they subscribe to (yours and your competitors’), the trajectory of their spend with you, about the roles of the individuals employed and who serve as your contacts in all those accounts, about the business goals they aspire to and that they’ve already detailed for you?

All of that should be stored in your CRM.

How about reconciling all that data with what you should know about what’s happening in the national and international economies where your customers conduct their business? How about taking all that data and, without even a hint of alchemy, turn it into insights that you can action with customers? In addition to great solutions, this is what customers really want.

Getting From Here to There

If heightened expectations mean customers want more insights, what does that mean for vendors? Vendors need to accelerate the data literacy of their workforces, particularly those in their customer-facing organizations. They need to evolve their teams to a point where customers and opportunities are represented by data that can be distilled into meaningful action.

Data literacy is the ability to read, understand, create and communicate data as information. It’s the ability of a person to be comfortable operating in an environment where automated work processes are fueled by data, mountains of it. Digitally transformed businesses can only be so when they can say that their processes are operating from a foundation of data, which, of course, dictates that people responsible for operating the processes need to be as data fluent as possible to participate fully in an environment of iterative improvement.

Sadly though, Capgemini reports that only a minority (39 percent) of businesses feel they are digitally capable. And, although this next piece focuses on this issue specifically as it pertains to the US federal government, according to this Nextgov article, organizations aren’t doing enough to advance the data literacy skills of their workforces.

Broadly speaking, data illiteracy hurts a company’s ability to meet business targets, and, in the future, it will more severely compromise their ability to compete. As stated in the article, organizations should make driving up data literacy rates across their workforces a high priority “instead of depending on a few experts who hold the keys to the data kingdom … .”

Does Customer Success Play a Role?

Carrying over from a recent post I wrote called, Customer Success: An Instrument for Change, there is no more logical organization to lead the effort toward digitally transforming a company so that it revolves around the needs and experiences of customers. Why? Because no other organization has as close proximity to the customer’s business as customer success. No other organization is as weighted with responsibility for ensuring customers stay customers over the long haul. And no other organization is as increasingly looked upon as integral to a customer’s ability to achieve their business goals.

But in most cases, customer success is not quite ready for such a key role in a digitally transformed landscape. More change needs to occur and the most fundamental one of all is elevating its members’ level of data literacy so that the following example can be digitally and procedurally handled instead of the way it typically is today in almost all companies, by executive escalation and disruptive panic.

Example: Customer A bought Product B from your company. Customer A is a financial services firm whose flamboyant CEO loves speaking to the media about the future of fintech. She’s recently announced a new initiative that will see her firm invest millions into a new lab to exploit that technology because, as she says, her customers are becoming increasingly data literate. But that will only happen once they complete an internal review of the performance and relevance of their existing technology investments and associated vendors. Do you think that might produce some important action for the customer success team? Do you think it might trigger them to redouble their efforts at ensuring Customer A is successful in achieving their business goals through Product B so that your company lands on the right side of that assessment process?

A vendor with a data literate workforce would have an edge. A data literate workforce would already know whether the customer is achieving success or not and would already have been executing a plan to keep things moving in the right direction.

You get my point.

Data literacy drives more intelligent decisions. And while they might not be saying it or even thinking it, data literacy is what your customers need you to have. 

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018: Do you know where your personal data is?

It’s past your bedtime. Do you know where your private personal data is? Do you know who has access to that data? Your answers are probably ‘No’. That’s because you’ve handed over a lot of private data to service providers on the internet and trusted that they’re protecting you and that data. Recent events have shown that’s not always the case and a new law in California aims to fix that.

New legislation will add significant privacy protections for Californians and place new burdens on businesses. While the new legislation applies only to residents of California, most businesses will have customers in the state and do collect some level of private information from customers, so this legislation has broad implications for marketers even outside the state.

Earlier this year law makers in California introduced sweeping consumer privacy legislation. The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 unanimously passed in the California State Assembly and Senate, was signed into law by the Governor and will go into effect in 2020. The Act is the most sweeping consumer privacy legislation ever passed in the United States and gives consumers broad control over personal information collected by businesses. The law is not specific to any one digital channel, but spans all channels where personal information is collected, stored and used by marketers.

Californians will have the following rights under the law:

  • Right to know what personal information is being collected and whether it is sold or disclosed and to whom
  • The right to say no to the sale of personal information
  • The right to access their personal information
  • The right to equal service and price when privacy rights are exercised

Businesses have enjoyed great freedom in how they collect and use consumers' private information. Consumers have had little recourse when their private information is compromised. Recent high-profile incidents involving private consumer data collected by marketers in the digital realm have rattled users of social media and other internet services. Data breaches exposed millions of consumers' credit information. Consumers' social media data was misused by Cambridge Analytica. Users' trust of these services is eroding.

The law will enact several requirements which will directly impact how marketers interact with consumers in California and manage their personal information across a broad range of marketing media. These requirements include:

  • Inform customers at the point of collection what personal information will be collected
  • Allow consumers free access to their personal information and make the information available in a portable and readily usable format that can be transmitted to another service
  • Delete a consumer's personal information on request
  • Disclose on request personal information collected, the purpose for collecting or selling personal information, and any third parties with which personal information was shared
  • Honor consumers' requests to opt-out of having their personal information sold to third parties
  • Provide a prominent "Do Not Sell My Personal Information" link on the homepage to facilitate the consumer opt-out process
  • Provide the same level of service and price even when a consumer chooses to exercise their rights under the Act

When the Act goes into effect in 2020 marketers must be ready to comply, with new procedures, processes and customer facing tools. Companies will also need to decide if they will treat California consumers differently from those outside California.

The law will be enforced by the Attorney General of California, and the Act creates a "Consumer Privacy Fund" to offset costs of enforcing the Act. Consumers will also have a private right of action if companies fail to adequately protect their personal information under the requirements of the Act. Penalties for data breaches are also laid out in the Act.

This legislation, and others like the recently enacted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, reflect a rising tide of personal data protection for consumers. The message from these enactments is clear: consumers must maintain primary control over their own personal information and businesses must provide access, transparency and strong safeguards to protect consumers' personal information.

Marketers should study this new legislation and start planning now on how to comply. 2020 will approach quickly, and businesses that are not ready to comply may be subject to penalties if they don't meet the requirements of the Act.

3 Ways CMOs Are Putting Artificial Intelligence To Work

By Shruti Bhat, Senior Director of Cloud and Emerging Technologies, Oracle

Companies intent on using artificial intelligence to evolve from merely data-driven reactors to truly adaptive enterprises need their chief marketing officers to step up to that urgent challenge.

Broadly speaking, AI is an advanced software engine that ingests customer and other data to sense, analyze, reason, and propose actions. As such, AI-imbued applications are becoming indispensable in helping CMOs and their organizations read customers’ digital body language and anticipate their needs, helping companies adapt their business models accordingly.

AI tools are particularly critical to CMOs in three key areas:

  1. Delighting each customer, one at a time. AI finally lets CMOs deliver on the long-time promise of “extreme personalization,” tailoring products and offers to each individual rather than broad groups.

Traditionally, marketers have segmented customers into such groups based on similar interests, needs, or locations. The expectation is they will have common requirements and respond similarly to marketing offers, but this approach makes the inherently flawed assumption that groups of people behave alike.

I’ve previously experimented with “one-to-one marketing” at a software-as-a-service startup, where I created 10 segments—each consisting of just one company. Each was a specific account that we really needed to land, and this approach allowed us to be extremely targeted and focused.

However, it wasn’t a scalable approach, so we took it a step further, creating our own AI-based marketing bot that would “personally” interact with thousands of potential customers. The bot then combined insights from those interactions with signals from other data sets to deliver a highly customized onboarding experience, followed by constant relevant engagement to continuously grow usage of our product. By combining historical purchase patterns with rich consumer behavior data, AI helps CMOs anticipate exactly what each individual customer needs.

  1. Powering “growth hacking.” Growth hacking is the process of using insights gleaned from data to develop a hypothesis on how to rapidly grow the business—and then quickly testing it out using live experiments across marketing and product development.

Airbnb is the poster child. The room-sharing service once struggled with a classic chicken-or-egg growth challenge: It realized that having more apartment and home listings would attract more renters, but it needed more renters to attract more listings. Airbnb experimented with autopostings on Craigslist to reach a broader base and consequently realized exponential growth.

During the last five years most startups have embraced growth hacking, but large enterprises still struggle with rapid experimentation, mainly because of the vast amounts of data they need to grapple with. With AI, the explosion of enterprise data becomes an inherent strength rather than a roadblock for large companies, because it enables more experimentation and faster results. For CMOs, this means the ability to help adapt not just the marketing strategy, but the product and distribution model as well, constantly optimizing on all fronts for customer acquisition, retention, and viral growth.

  1. Increasing customer loyalty—the right way. It’s standard practice to measure customer lifetime value—how much a customer spends with your company from the time he or she first buys one of your products. But most companies don’t quantify customer lifetime happiness, or how satisfied the customer is at different touch points.

While it’s common for companies to measure social media buzz and conduct broad surveys to gather customer feedback, that data says nothing about how annoyed a particular customer felt because of a late delivery and how a simple service tweak or discount in the next month might increase his or her loyalty over the years. Getting to that level of service requires companies to connect intelligence across their entire value chains.

For example, the company’s supply chain management system would need to flag the late delivery for its customer relationship management system, which in turn would check with the company’s financial systems to identify the best personalized offer for that customer given the context of that late delivery.

With AI, CMOs can use such real-time insights to delight customers under different circumstances—and most importantly, track and quantify the long-term impact on the business.

While it will take time for artificial intelligence to seep into every business area, CMOs are smart to embrace it quickly, as customers are more vocal and demanding than ever before.

*This post originally appeared in Forbes.

What’s the Key to Improving ROI on Advertising?

This article is part of our series on customer experience where we focus on topics relating to connecting data, intelligence and experiences. Further reading: Campaigns Don’t End When You Hit Send: The Importance of Feedback Loops.

Paid media is a powerful tool with plenty of metrics to present. But which ones should marketers pay attention to? Clicks and likes don’t drive outcome for the business.

When things inevitably go awry, fingers are pointed in every direction and paid media costs are quickly scrutinized. However, many times the real culprit is data access, or lack thereof.

The importance of paid media in the Indian market is unquestionable. However, engagement, relevance, and personalization are key. It can be a complex mix and one that potentially increases the risk of inconsistent messaging and poor customer experiences.

“Marketers should also expect costs to rise as more brands come online and ad spend shifts to digital,” says my colleague Adarsh Noronha, India Oracle Marketing Cloud sales head. It is therefore important to leverage that spend as much as possible.

“Marketers are already talking about owned and earned media, but we also see great interest in a technology such as a data management platform for programmatic. Lots of marketers are adopting data management platform to improve their paid advertising strategy and get better return on advertising spend,” Noronha said.

However, programmatic, and paid media in general, means sharing control with partners - a prospect many marketers find challenging.

The Paid Media Challenge

“One of the core challenges with paid media is that all participants in the advertising value circle (advertisers, publishers, and viewers) do not see it as a mutually beneficial ecosystem,” Noronha said.

With marketing budgets quickly shifting to digital in India, marketers here face questions around satisfaction, costs, and ultimately, control.

At one end marketers need to invest in paid media to tap the unknown market segments, create continuous engagement with customers, and allocate resources to identify an audience likely to convert as customers. And at the other end, returns don't come in quickly, and it can often feel like marketers are surrendering too much control.

But the issue is not one of control. After all, paid media partners are involved because of their expertise, and so the desired outcome should be a shared one. Rather, the issue is one of access - how can partners be better empowered to deliver consistent, on brand messages.

This is one area where we have been very actively involved -  and collaborated with various paid media partners that have access to specialized audience segment pools - with an intent to create value for our customers and prospective buyers.

For example, if an agency has better access to segmented audience data, the view of the customer is improved and ultimately a better experience is created.

Indeed, identifying and understanding audiences is the fundamental challenge of paid media campaigns, according to Noronha.

“While some publishers or paid media partners will give you very granular data about your target audience, they also let you go deeper with the traits or attributes you would want your target audience to exhibit.”

Noronha argues that organizations and partners need the audience data to take advantage of these paid media features and really leverage their digital investments.

But just like the siloed data problem plaguing organizations from within, a poor flow of data between partners and brands can also undermine paid media efforts.

Unlock Audience Data

To rectify this, it is important to improve data systems and segmentation, including access between brands and their partners. A central repository of audience data can feed other systems and deliver the necessary insights to a partner’s execution channels. The benefits quickly become apparent.

For creative agencies, this could mean a better understanding of audiences, through first-party data and segmentation, to better tailor content. While advertising agencies can develop a more rounded campaign and monitor the direct impact at an individual level.

If an organization can capture audience insights, it is incumbent on them to use that information in paid media campaigns.

Ultimately agencies retain control and execution, with more time to focus on the optimization, execution, and other relevant areas of expertise. For brands the end result is an improved, more connected customer experience, and better segmentation.

A piecemeal approach to martech may serve individual organizations or departments, but when it comes time to truly unlock the benefits of a connected stack and deliver consistent messages, the use of disparate systems or applications will grind the process to a halt.

If organizations are to be truly customer led, they must understand the interdependencies of people, process and technology, and data, to truly unlock insights into consumer behavior so that it flows freely to everyone in the ecosystem who needs it.

How will you improve ROI on advertising? Download the guide, Data-Driven Dividends.


Campaigns Don’t End When You Hit Send: The Importance of Feedback Loops

This article is part of our series on customer experience where we focus on topics relating to connecting data, intelligence and experiences. Further reading: Why Inconsistent Messaging is Undermining Customer Experience.

While many marketers are enamored with the advantages of martech, it is worth remembering the activity should always be optimized. After all, marketing technology is only as good as the data feeding it, and customers’ behavior is constantly providing new data.

Feedback loops used to be directly communicated in person, during a one-to-one conversation. But as we’ve moved from an offline social culture to transacting primarily online, we need to find new ways to understand our customers.

It is now necessary to read customers digital body language to reveal purchasing power, location, interests and intent to buy – among thousands of other attributes.

For many marketers, feedback loops are a significant step up in the quest for better performance.

Targeted marketing is a standard practice. Though, ultimately the output is only as good as the data being input. Too often campaigns are verified through metrics that, in an effort to assess overall performance, fail to provide the granular level of data needed to optimize campaigns.

Fortunately, each customer touch point in a campaign can provide a feedback loop, offering different forms of verification and the potential to close data gaps — provided the right metrics are used.

Take an email campaign as an example. It may use good data segmentation based on a well curated CRM to push out the message. Traditional performance metrics would be the open rate or the click-through metric. They indicate that the audience you targeted actually interacted with that campaign. But the campaign doesn’t end after the email is sent.

The feedback loop would identify not only whether an email is opened or not, but who has and has not clicked through. Each outcome provides an opportunity to improve segmentation and optimize the campaign.

This process relies on an ability to tie actions to the individual. However it is not necessarily about identifying individuals. Digital body language is 100 per cent anonymous. Therefore privacy is maintained as global concerns are raising over data use and privacy mount.

Nevertheless it is a feature often lacking in many marketing metrics and ultimately produces disconnected experiences.

Not All Metrics are Equal

Many of the existing marketing metrics provide useful insights but fail to really optimize campaigns. For example, a media agency may offer measurements aggregated by region or messaging. It shows a campaign has reached a certain percentage of a target audience. It is useful information, and not to be disregarded, but at the level of an individual it fails the optimization test.

There is disconnect, because you don't know which of those people you targeted in the campaign actually engaged with it. It is not enough to know what percentage of an audience clicked through. You need to know who has clicked through, who hasn’t, and why they did so.

The solution is to include metrics that can be interrogated at a granular, individual level - digital body language. When that information is available, it produces immediately actionable insights and a finer level of segmentation. Connecting these metrics to the technology stack improves customer verification and eventually customer data insights.

Through proper feedback loops, campaigns are adjusted on the fly with the ability to target individuals who do not initially engage.

We can also reduce advertising spend by not targeting existing customers and increase our add efficiency by targeted those customers most likely to buy.

In ASEAN, the availability of third-party data on targeted customer accounts might still be an issue for advertising. However, over the coming years we’ll be seeing a lot more data become available as large players start to make their data available via third-party marketplaces such as Oracle’s Bluekai. 

Our customers who have used our Oracle Marketing Cloud to run multichannel automated campaigns (using email, push, and SMS) have realized significant increases in open rates and conversions.

While it appears an advanced use case of data and marketing technology, the current pace of change may mean it is soon table stakes.

Want to learn more? 

Download Seamless Marketing: Elevating the Customer Journey to New Heights

Why Inconsistent Messaging is Undermining Customer Experience

This article is part of our series on customer experience where we focus on topics relating to connecting data, intelligence and experiences. Further reading: Silo Busting is Essential to Delivering Personalized Experiences.

Delivering exceptional customer experiences has quickly become table stakes for marketers. Too often, though, these experiences are undermined by inconsistent messaging and opportunities go begging.

Repeated or irrelevant messages breed consumer intolerance and annoyance, which they are not afraid to shout about to the hilltops.

Inconsistent messaging can also be a lost opportunity. For instance, when a customer expects to be informed, but there is silence. Such as when a customer signs up to a new program and reasonably expects to receive a welcome email. When they receive nothing, that can create confusion and concern — which can be just as damaging as a sending a poor message.

In markets like China, where social and ecommerce platforms are dominated by a few large players, the risk and reward of consistent messaging increases, particularly for B2C companies.

For example, WeChat and Alibaba both have an incredible reach. And, given their prominence, consumers often use both platforms. So, any inconsistent message on WeChat can quickly undermine strong messaging on Alibaba, and vice-versa.

Compounding this problem, marketers sometimes focus too intently on WeChat and Alibaba and neglect their owned channels of email, SMS, and website. The messaging in all channels must be relevant and consistent.

Why It’s Happening

This isn’t rocket science, but it still trips up many marketers. The reason? The ubiquitous problems that arise from disconnected data systems and data access – marketers and systems in silos. Marketers simply do not have a single view of the customer, much less an accurate idea of what messaging has already been delivered.

That problem snowballs when channels are managed by different teams — such as a media agency for acquisition and remarketing, another agency for social marketing, while a company’s own marketing team manages email and mobile channels.

When this happens, even a central marketing plan can’t connect the data and creative for individual customer experiences.

Many organizations still lack the skills and tools necessary to unearth customer insights from first-party data. Those insights are needed to improve customer experience and deliver consistent, relevant messages through all channels automatically.

How to Fix It

A great place to start is to build consistency on the areas over which you have control and where you are comfortable.

For example, implementing automation and template programs for email and mobile channels will improve consistency in message cadence and content. At Oracle, we recommend leveraging existing data and using dynamic content to personalize your messages while maintaining a consistent message.

Next, build a data strategy to inform segmentation and start to weave that in other channels. It’s likely that your first major roadblock will be addressing how customer data is managed and accessed. Therefore, when getting data architecture in order, the focus should be on creating a core customer view in a secure, transparent and privacy-compliant way. All other data — such as sales, product, and policies — can then be attached to the core customer data, creating the fabled 360 degree view of the customer.

It is no small feat to upgrade data architecture and automate marketing. However, the benefits that accrue will quickly justify the undertaking.

Want to learn more? Get the Cross-Channel Orchestration Fundamentals Guide to learn how you can give consumers the personalized, relevant, and consistent experiences they want.  

Putting Dynamic Back into Email Design

While it may surprise those who view emails as an antiquated channel of communication, emails are still a crucial part of the way brands communicate with consumers. Just consider that in 2017, global email users amounted to 3.7 billion people, and, this figure is set to grow to 4.3 billion in 2022.

While this sounds conclusive, in practice, email marketing remains a hotbed of discussion with marketers divided on one question: Is the content or design more important?

The first email was sent in 1971. Back then, content ruled supreme. But over 37 years, emails have evolved to offering greater scope for marketers. Today, we want to focus on design. This isn’t just about finding the right images and colors for the message, but rather the opportunity to be fully interactive, enhance product engagement and have the look and feel of an app.

So how do marketers achieve that? It is by understanding that neither content nor design is more important. The performance of both is intrinsically linked to data. Only informative, relevant content together with engaging design will keep a customer’s attention. And whether it be an image change, text change or module change, data can now determine exactly how the customer interaction takes place.

Making the Leap

In 2018, email design is all about dynamic content.

Imagine an email campaign that automatically adapts based on the known interests of each subscriber. That is dynamic content. It is an advanced personalization technique, which uses data held within each subscriber’s profile to automatically display content more closely aligned with their known interests or preferences.

The key is aggregated data that can be pulled from email sign-up preferences, profiling subscribers or behavioral data. And dynamic content can be used in a wide range of applications. Either data-based design, including a CTA offering based on previous interactions, or using the nearest store location information or gender specific information. Or you could provide contextual content pulled from custom feeds, social networks, and website behavior. This information includes recent interactions, weather feeds, location, and customer persona.

Putting it into Action

This is all well and good, but you might be thinking, "We just don’t have time to create great designs and tap into dynamic content. We are always working to extremely tight deadlines.” The answer is templates and planning.

Modular email templates are the key to successful use of dynamic content. The template is a framework that includes a header and footer with several content modules. These content modules can be stacked and then removed, rearranged, and repeated in numerous configurations. Most importantly, they allow for design freedom without the need for extensive HTML knowledge.

As a first step, marketers should conduct an audit of previous email campaigns to see what works and how consumers reacted to design. Then, template the most commonly used modules and template dynamic content rules.

Ultimately, brands and marketers don’t have to compromise on email design to send a relevant, data-driven email. Why? Data drives design. It ensures that content is shown in the best possible way to different audiences. Relevant content increases familiarity and loyalty, which in turn, improves click through and conversion rates.

Want more?

Watch the webinar, Bridging the Gap: How to Orchestrate and Personalize the Entire Customer Experience, to learn how your organization can unify email and web orchestration with a strategy that will keep communications relevant and audiences engaged.

Watch the webinar today.

GDPR: Why CEOs Need to Lead from the Top Down

Oracle’s Alessandro Vallega discusses the need for cultural change to ensure GDPR compliance, and why that change must come from the top.

GDPR is now in effect. (Companies across every industry have been under pressure to become compliant since the law was introduced in 2016.) Some responded by changing their IT processes, others placed the burden on their legal team, but others only began to adapt in earnest just before the May 25 deadline was approaching.

Data protection must be treated with the right level of gravitas. It might be tempting to think you can steer clear of regulatory issues as long as you are not doing anything untoward with people’s personal data, but this is short-term thinking. GDPR may only mark the beginning of a global regulatory push to improve data protection, and regulation will only become more demanding.  

Real change requires a shift in culture. The way companies govern data has not yet caught up to the way employees use technology, which is why we still see staff taking a lackadaisical approach in many organizations. They save company information to personal devices, use (and sometimes lose) business laptops on the train, and turn to file sharing sites to share sensitive information. All these practices pose a security risk, and they are all too common. 

The cost of not complying with GDPR can be significant. Business leaders will be aware of the potential risk of non-compliance (up to 20 million euros or 4% of the company’s global turnover) but there are less obvious consequences too. Data breaches must be made public to the supervisory authority within 72 hours once a company becomes aware of them, and the reputational damage that comes with these if the company does not have a good handle on security, has its own cost.

In addition, a supervisory authority has the power to impose a temporary or definitive limitation including a ban on processing, and data subjects have the right to bring claims for compensation.

This makes GDPR a boardroom issue, but this does not mean companies can just appoint someone to take charge of compliance and let them run with it. With an imperative this important, the bucks stops with the CEO.

Business leaders must be figureheads for data protection. For an organization to manage data more responsibly and stay on top of its data in the long term, it needs buy-in from all staff. Each individual must be accountable for their actions and play their part in compliance, and this understanding must be driven from the top down.  

How can business leaders help achieve this? The first step is to make training compulsory. This could include anything from data management training, to workshops on protecting data or even running phish-baiting tests to help employees identify suspicious emails.

Incentives also help drive change. Data protection needs to be as much a part of someone’s job as doing their timesheets, so why not reward team leaders who have ensured all their staff have taken the appropriate training, or include security training as part of employee performance objectives? It will ultimately come down to HR, IT or legal teams to develop these initiatives, but the imperative must come from a company’s leadership.

For more information on GDPR and its implications for leaders across the business, check out our GDPR hub page.

Identify and Rejuvenate Your Inactive Customers

By Gabrielle Tao,VP, Product Management, Responsys Development, Oracle

As a marketer, you most likely have a list of your “inactive” customers. The definition of inactive customers varies from marketer to marketer. Maybe they’re customers who haven’t purchased in the last year or those who haven’t responded to any marketing messages in the last 180 days. They opted in to receive your marketing messages, but they don’t interact with your brand any more. It is a bit of a vicious cycle – your messages don’t engage them, but without their interactions, you are very limited in what you can do to personalize their marketing messages. This leads to even less likelihood they will engage and higher likelihood that they eventually opt out altogether.

There are two things you can do to further understand your inactive customers. With better understanding, there’s an increased chance that these customers will reengage with your brand.

Analyze Past Behavioral Data

This may seem obvious. But the truth is that a lot of marketers don’t do this or don’t do it often enough. These could be two key reasons:

  • Engagement data may be scattered among different interaction channels. As an example, if you have an email system that’s separate from the mobile system, or you collect sales transactions in multiple channels differently, your engagement data will be scattered.
  • By definition, inactive customers are those who have not had interactions with your brand for quite some time. Many interaction systems do not store interactions data beyond 90 or 180 days. So, to relate your inactive customers with their past behavioral data beyond the last 90 or 180 days, you will need to cross multiple systems.

Of course, it’s possible that analysis of inactive customers can be done with some system integrations. But the ease with which it can be done will determine whether this is a one-time effort or something you can benefit from continuously.

When you have a system to analyze the past behavioral data of your inactive customers, you could potentially answer these questions:

  • Who are truly inactive customers across all channels?
  • Did they ever interact with your brand after the initial sign-up? If not, you might need to ‘re-acquire’ them.
  • When was the last time they interacted with your brand, and on which channel? What were they interested in?
Append Third-Party Demographic or Behavioral Data

Customers who do not engage with your brand generally fall into these categories:

  1. They do not engage with any other brand either (deceased, invalid email, etc.).
  2. They engage with some other brands.

Appending your inactive customer list with third-party data can help you better identify category they belong to. Third-party data (e.g., demographics or behavioral) generally are gathered by third-party data sources and do not include customer interactions with your own channels.

While third-party data marketplaces have existed for decades, marketers have not been able to easily take advantage of them. That’s because most third-party data providers price data based on the list size, which isn’t optimal for specific use cases such as inactive customers.

As a marketer, the third-party attributes you need for your active and inactive customers may be different. For example, if you’re an email marketer, you primarily need to reduce the risk of bounces if continue to email your inactive customers. In this case, a different kind of third-party data attribute is needed than when you need to improve email personalization for your active customers. But because of the way third-party providers price and append data, you will need to split your customer list into active and inactive to get two separate appends, which in turn requires you to have two separate data contracts.

By following a very simple process to append third-party data without all the time and costs for signing data contracts and transferring data back and forth, you can understand your inactive customers more effectively:

  • Which of the two above categories have the majority of your inactive customers?
  • Will you risk getting more bounces if you send more emails to your inactive customers?

In part two of this article, we will take a look at an easy way to use the new Oracle Responsys CX Audience solution to learn more about your inactive customers.

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When Did Data Become So Valuable?

By Neil Sholay, VP of Digital – EMEA, Oracle

With GDPR compliance now mandatory, European businesses are razor-focused on their data protection measures, and with good reason. The regulation brings some long-overdue structure to today’s data economy, and the public is clearly eager for greater transparency into how their information is being used.

How did we get here? When did data make the leap from static figures in a spreadsheet to one of our most valuable sources of capital?

Just as prospectors once crossed continents in search of gold, companies today spare no expense in collecting as much data as possible to inform their decision-making and grow their bottom line, and it all began with the personal device revolution. It’s been just 11 years since Apple brought smartphones into the mainstream, but most of us can’t imagine life without our mobiles. The average person now checks their phone every 12 minutes, and in China, smartphone usage is set to overtake the time people spend watching TV.  

When we touch our mobile screen more than 1 million times each year, we create an enormous collection of data points. This information may seem innocuous, but it all adds up to an invaluable breadcrumb trail of insight that helps companies to better understand customers and target them with more personalized services.

Take Caixa Bank, one of Spain’s largest financial services companies, which uses its customer data to maintain a centralized view of how people interact with its services in-branch, online and on their mobiles. Established banks are fighting off competition from a range of new all-digital challengers, and this deeper understanding of customers helps organizations like Caixa Bank deliver the best of both worlds: a strong heritage in the industry and more tailored digital services. 

The same is true in the telecoms industry, where operators such as Telefonica have implemented an analytics program to better understand how customers use their services. By drawing on this insight, Telefonica can tempt its subscribers with additional content and propositions that are specifically tailored to their preferences.

Businesses are also looking more closely at their internal data to work more efficiently and cut costs. After centralizing its operations data, the UK’s National Health Services Business Services Authority began to spot and address inefficiencies that helped it save more than £580 million in just two years.  

For many organizations, the real value in data lies in predictive maintenance, the practice of pre-empting the failure of a product before it leads to major issues or customer discontent. For instance, today’s connected cars relay vast amounts of performance data to dealerships and car manufacturers such as General Motors. With this information to hand, companies can instantly alert drivers of any urgent issues that needs servicing before these cause any inconvenience or danger.

Never have businesses had so much information on their customers and prospects. It began with the smartphone, but everything from our cars to our kitchen appliances now contribute to the digital breadcrumb trail, and this is only the beginning. Businesses will continue to uncover new ways of collecting, combining, and extracting value from the information we provide.

As Oracle’s Paul Sonderegger told the Economist, “Data will be the ultimate externality. We will generate it whatever we do.”

This digital gold rush has already been a boon for businesses and consumers alike. All the mobile banking apps, food delivery services, and messaging platforms we use each day work so well and seem so personalized to our needs only because the companies behind them collect and act on user information to develop their offering. GDPR will by no means mark the end of these services, but it will bring balance to the relationship between organizations and the people they serve.

Many companies will be tempted to treat new regulation as a burden, but as with any change, it is also an opportunity. GDPR compliance is a short-term goal, but by rethinking their data management and security processes for a more open and transparent customer dynamic, businesses will ensure they can cope with evolving regulation in the long-term while giving consumers the confidence that their data is being used responsibly. 

To paraphrase TechUK’s Sue Daley, who joined a panel of data experts to discuss GDPR on the Oracle Business Podcast, we are moving to a world driven by connected devices, greater automation, and new forms of artificial intelligence. To succeed with these technologies, businesses will need the public to trust their approach to managing data.

Indeed, in an increasingly interconnected world we will see businesses shift from traditional security tools to risk and trust management, and now is the time to build a solid foundation for this more trusting future.

Click here to learn more about GDPR and discover how Oracle can help.

Also read 5 Steps to GDPR Compliance - It's Not Too Late to Prepare