Tag Archives: data-driven marketing

Is Content King or Is Data King?

In the modern media era of TV and Internet, there has always been a fundamental tension between content and distribution. Is it better to own the content, or is it better to own the platforms and distribution mechanisms to get that content to the customer? For now, content is king, but there’s a new contender to the throne: data.

Of course, data in its raw form is useless. It’s just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s. But when you are able to analyze that data, it can become very powerful. That’s especially true since we are moving from an era of “structured” data to an era of “unstructured” data.

Structured Data vs Unstructured Data

From a marketing perspective, the easiest way to think about the difference between “structured” data and “unstructured” data is by thinking of the typical customer survey that you might send out after someone has purchased a product or visited your store. Most of the questions will be simple “yes/no” questions. Or they will ask customers to rate you on a scale of 1-10. All of that is “structured” data. It’s easy to put into a database and then analyze for insights. You can perform all kinds of statistical calculations very easily.

But then comes all the “unstructured” data. And this is where organizations are really stepping up their game. For example, that same customer survey might ask a question like, “Is there anything else you’d like to tell us that’s not included here?” That prompts a customer to write an open-ended response. Just a few years ago, that would have required a human to analyze it. Now, thanks to the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, it’s possible to have a computer analyze it and add it to a growing database.

And the type of “unstructured” data that’s available today is growing at a prodigious pace, primarily thanks to all the digital devices out there. Your mobile phone is a potential treasure trove of data that grows by the minute. What company wouldn’t want to know the precise GPS location of every place you’ve visited during the day?

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Moreover, the type of analysis that’s possible today is becoming quite impressive. There’s a whole new field called “predictive analytics,” which essentially promises to predict future customer behavior based on known data. You can literally predict how a marketing campaign will do, based on what you know about certain types of customers. Companies like Salesforce are coming up with AI-powered marketing solutions that promise to help companies find the proverbial needle in the haystack.

So, it’s no surprise that so many companies have jumped aboard the Big Data bandwagon. It promises to streamline just about every part of a company and create new revenue opportunities. As the analytical tools become more and more powerful, it’s leading to real excitement about the potential ability of AI to transform organizations.

Data Is the New Oil

Within the mainstream media, in fact, it’s now fashionable to compare the role of data in the digital economy to the role of oil in the analog economy. Back in 2014, WIRED magazine breathlessly proclaimed that, “Data is the new oil of the digital economy.” Earlier this year, The Economist remarked that, “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.”

If you follow this analogy to its logical end, it would seem to imply that companies best able to harness and extract this data will become the most valuable in the world. Just as oil companies like Exxon Mobil became the most valuable and powerful in the world until the rise of Silicon Valley’s Internet champions, it’s plausible that new artificial intelligence (AI) companies will become the most valuable in the world, once they’ve truly figured out how to harness the remarkable power of data.

And when that day comes - the day when an AI company is worth more than an oil company or a Silicon Valley tech giant - that’s when Data will be King.

Find out more about what you can do using data with “Go Further with Data Management.”

Read the guide

eharmony Uses AI to Help Their Users Find Love

eharmony thrives by using algorithms and mathematical models to find the best match for their customers. Using big data and patented artificial intelligence, eharmony has found ways to predict how likely two people are to be compatible. The model is built upon an in-depth relationship questionnaire which gathers information on a person’s likes, dislikes and their personality traits to understand who they are, and how they rank on key dimensions of compatibility. This gives eharmony the best chance to find someone who is a good match for a serious relationship. Yet all of this modeling and math is useless if they cannot build an ongoing engagement with their customers. 

To make meaningful relationship connections, you need to know a lot about the people you’re trying to connect. The same applies for knowing how to keep customers coming back. Oracle helps eharmony find its customers meaningful relationships by enabling better targeting, segmentation, and a more personalized and relevant experience across various touchpoints.

Email is a main channel of communication for eharmony customers. eharmony has built out an advanced email-marketing program to engage them with relevant content at all points in the customer lifecycle. These communications are designed to maximize the chances of connecting customers to one another by using their activity on the website and their communications with other members. The data informs eharmony all about the customer’s context, allowing them to achieve higher levels of engagement and keep customers coming back. 

Timing Cupid’s Arrow

eharmony improves a customer’s experience by optimizing the best time to send an email to each individual. Using AI to model when each customer is most likely to engage with their messaging, eharmony can build predictions for when to send the next message and when an individual is most likely to open and engage. This resulted in an 11% increase in email engagement and an 18% increase in revenue. 

The math of matchmaking has led to eharmony’s position as the #1 trusted dating site for relationship-minded singles. Dating is one of the most personal things we do as humans. Using artificial intelligence to create more personalized matches for their customers was a natural step for eharmony to ensure their customers keep returning to the service and help find those impeccable matches, or, that perfect match. In partnering with Oracle for building advanced email campaigns, eharmony can give their customers the best message, delivered at the best time, and make a perfect match for each person. 

For our readers in the United States, eharmony is offering a 10% off any plan with the promo code ORACLE. 

Integrating Internet of Things (IoT) with Marketing Automation Platforms: Use Cases

It’s estimated that by 2020 nearly 75 billion devices worldwide will be connected through the Internet. They would range from consumer devices like home appliances and cars to industrial machines such as cargo containers and wind turbines. The volume of data generated and used by all of these devices will be astronomical but analyzing the right data quickly and efficiently to make smart decisions will be the main challenge.

Internet of Things, or IoT, is the key technology that makes the interoperability among these devices possible. Oracle already offers a robust IoT Cloud Platform that is used by hundreds of companies like Gemü worldwide. Although, currently the majority of IoT applications are for industries like transportation and manufacturing, great opportunities are fast emerging for integrating IoT with marketing automation platforms, like Oracle Marketing Cloud. This article briefly explores a number of use cases for integrating IoT with a marketing automation platform to create better user experiences.  You may also like to read a related article by Oracle’s Austin Miller titled How IoT Can Help Marketers Increase ROI

Behavioral data collection

Just like mobile devices that transmit data about user interactions with mobile apps, IoT-enabled consumer devices, e.g., home appliances and automobiles, can be used to collect behavioral data. Behavioral data collected from IoT-enabled devices can in turn be combined with other customer data in a marketing platform for segmentation, personalization and reporting. For example, information about how often a consumer uses a washing machine, how long and on what settings, could help an automated marketing system to send personalized coupons for specific types of detergents or scheduled maintenance service. Also, real-time events coming from IoT-enabled devices could control the flow of a consumer through a multi-stage orchestration program. For example, discovering when a consumer starts driving a new car could initiate a series of personalized messages based on the consumer’s profile and her driving patterns in subsequent weeks. Data privacy is certainly very important and consumers must explicitly allow collection and usage of their behavioral data. 

Alerts or promotions based on usage

Consumers or businesses may specifically request to receive alerts or promotional messages based on how their IoT-enabled device is performing or used. For example, a consumer may like to be notified if the air filter in their home furnace needs to be replaced or if her car is due for an oil change. Similarly, a large enterprise may need to keep track of their office printers worldwide for ink cartridge replacement. Interestingly, Johnnie Walker in 2015 developed a prototype for their Blue Label bottle to use extremely thin, electronic sensors that can tell if the bottle has been opened or not and where it is in the supply chain. These sensors can also be used to send promotional messages to consumers who scan the bottle with their smartphones. 

Messages pushed directly to IoT-enabled devices

An IoT-enabled device could potentially be another channel to which a marketing platform can send personalized messages. Smart TVs already are able to display personalized messages to consumers based on what shows they have been watching. So, it’s quite possible that appliances, automobiles, office equipment, or even “smart” active wear can receive relevant, personalized messages to create a greater customer experience. Such messages can be displayed either directly on the device (e.g., a printer) or sent to the consumer’s mobile phone tethered to the IoT device (e.g., “smart” shoes send messages to the runner’s iPhone).

An ecosystem of IoT applications

Oracle Marketing Cloud already has a compelling framework for enabling third-party applications to be integrated within its platforms, like Responsys and Eloqua. The same framework can be extended to include applications integrated with IoT-enabled devices. For example, in a Responsys Program, there could be a specific stage within an orchestration to execute a task on an IoT-enabled device, like display a promotion for leasing a new car on the car’s dashboard if the driver has been looking for a new car and is in a “new car lease” orchestration program.

Marketers, if you are looking to benefit from the unlimited potentials of IoT to delight  your customers with highly personalized and relevant customer experiences, make sure your marketing automation platform allows for integrations with IoT technologies. 

Go Wild, Indulge or Kickback by the Pool: The Bracelet that’s Key to Vacation Cool

What’s your vacation dream? Adventure? Luxurious indulgence? Lounge by the pool with a glass of something cool?

The holiday reality though … not so much. Lock yourself out of ─ and your cash in ─ your room. Not enough money with you to buy that must-have in the mall. Miss a spur-of-the-moment romantic dinner because your card is by the bed. Stress over where to put your wallet when you’re windsurfing in a skin-tight swimsuit. Sound familiar?

Now imagine a vacation getaway where cash, IDs, credit cards, and keys are a memory as distant as the world you left behind. A holiday where everything just works without a second thought. A holiday where all the resort has to offer opens up to you with the wave of your wrist. And crucially ─ a holiday where no wallet spoils the line of your Speedos. 

Innovations in data-driven customer experience make it possible.

Melia’ Hotels International and Oracle have not only imagined that carefree holiday experience, they’ve turned it into a reality. In just four months, they developed a personal passport that marries beautiful form with efficient function for new levels of guest freedom. And it looks great with whatever you’re wearing.

The Journey

Seamless customer experiences are central to Melia’s business model as it launches a new breed of resort ─ offering different vibes depending on a guest’s whim. From adrenalin-fueled adventure to sumptuous shopping to laidback luxury, the new resort has it covered. The trick is transporting customers from one experience to the next ─ taking them on a journey through a resort without borders.

The Melia’ Bracelet, of course, gives guests keyless access to their rooms. But there’s more: The bracelet allows guests to:

  • Pay for everything across all three ‘vibed’ areas of the resort. 
  • Tailor their interests and buy add-ons based on them.
  • Shop in the mall cash and credit card free

And the Melia’ Bracelet allows the hotel to know where guests are ─ adding another level of safety and security ─ while also informing better planning based on factors such as customer movements and attendance at events.

The Reality

Imagine a holiday where your hotel room unlocks itself as you approach, welcoming you with your choice of music and lighting. A holiday where your preferences tailor experiences to enhance your stay. A holiday where you book dinner at a restaurant you’ve never seen but are sure to love, buy a new top from the hottest label (with a personalized discount) and get your name on the VIP list at the best nightclub with the flick of the wrist.

Imagine no more, because the bracelet is making the dream a reality at Melia’’s Sol Katmandu Park Hotel and at the newly opened Calviá Beach The Plaza ─ right now. And built on Oracle’s cloud platform, it will evolve ─ with plans to adopt AI to bring new levels of personalization to the holiday experience. This constantly adaptable tech gem will keep guests constantly coming back for more ─ and drive in-resort revenue.

Gabriel Escarrer, Vice President and CEO of Meliá Hotels Internationals, has no doubt as to what has made this project special. "In Meliá Hotels International we have imagined a new vacation where our guests can enjoy all the hotel services without worrying about carrying identification or money.  And we have made it a reality thanks to an innovative project in collaboration with Oracle."

“Co-innovation has been central in enabling Melia’ to bring their imagination to life”, explains Neil Sholay, Vice President of Digital, Oracle EMEA. “Melia’ started this project with an idea and a passion to improve the guest experience. This project proves that by combining Melia’’s expertise in hospitality with Oracle’s business innovation and technology strength, it is possible to take truly transformational ideas and turn them into reality. In a matter of weeks, together we have co-created an experience beyond expectations.”

Go wild? Indulge? Kick back by the pool with a glass of something cool? The choice now really is yours.

The Difference Between Quality of Data and Data Quality

The Difference Between Quality of Data and Data Quality

Errors in data exist. And when most marketers start looking into their data, they realize the data problems are worse than they thought. Common problems include: Miskeyed dates and misspelled names. Inaccurate abbreviations (AR for Arizona, for example). Multiple spellings for the same thing (e.g.

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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.