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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Use Analytics to Power Your Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing programs struggle to effectively connect with customers, but with advanced analytics, these programs can be greatly improved.

A key aspect of great customer experience is the ability of your company to effectively engage the customer even when that customer is not actively interacting with your company. Such engagements are core to an effective outbound marketing program.

The challenge with outbound marketing is that every company that deals with the customer is trying to accomplish the same thing, often at the same time. This results in information overload and an email inbox full of generic ads that are sent to every customer. Most of these messages are disregarded, creating an environment where outbound marketing efforts go to waste.

How do you overcome being just another message in the cacophony that deluges the customer daily? The answer is to personalize your outbound marketing to differentiate it from the rest.

Many companies start with something simple, such as merging the customer's name into an email so that it appears as though the company has a personal relationship with the customer. This is a start, but with advanced analytics, you have an opportunity to personalize your messages to a much greater degree.

With advanced analytics, you can personalize your messaging to effectively target the right who, what, when, how, and where for a specific customer.

Who: The first element of outbound marketing that advanced analytics can enhance is who to target. Using historical data to track who responded favorably to your past outbound marketing, you can develop a scoring model to determine the customers' likelihood of responding to any campaign.

With this scoring model, you can target a campaign only at those people highly likely to respond. This reduces the clutter that most of the customer base receives from your brand, increasing the probability that they will be receptive to a future message.

What: The next element is what content to send. Merging names into an email message is one example of how a message can be personalized. Determining the right message for a specific customer is important. When marketing products and services, you can analyze past purchases by the customer and customize the message to be in line with past behavior.

Showing a customer products they personally might like will be much more effective than sending out a blast about a generic product with potentially little importance to the customer. Dynamically synthesizing the best content based on past behavior ultimately enhances the customer's experience and increases that personal connection between the company and the customer.

When: Your marketing campaign must also determine when to send your message. People engage with outbound marketing at different times of the day. Some wake up and check their email first thing in the morning and look at those things that catch their eye, others do it right before they go to bed, still others catch up on their messaging on the train to or from work and others do it during their lunch hour.

In a global economy that spans countries and time zones, sending messages at just the right moment can make the difference between a received message and one that is discarded. Along with who, identifying when based on modeling attributes of past success can enhance your outbound marketing program.

How: With so much spam in inboxes, your company must figure out how to communicate your message effectively. Email is the simplest solution, but other media venues should be explored as well.

Texting can be used if the customer consents but must be managed effectively so as to not quickly turn off or antagonize the customer. Open rates on texts are much higher than open rates for email, but texting comes with social etiquette about what should and should not be sent.

Some companies have built in messaging to their apps so they can get direct access to their customers without email or texts. This also has to be handled very carefully or your customer will not only block your message but uninstall the entire app, severing the relationship you've established.

Where: Finally, there's the question of where. With location-based analytics, it is possible to pinpoint the moment when a customer is geographically located where ideal communication could happen. This might be as they walk in the front doors of the retail facility or when they are in the vicinity. Identifying the optimal place and time to message your customer requires the ability to collect and parse through a significant amount of noisy data.

Using advanced analytics to pinpoint the who, what, when, how, and where of outbound marketing is a complex task, but it can significantly increase the effectiveness of your company's campaigns without necessarily increasing the volume. This personalization allows your company to get the right message to the right customer just at the right time, so that customer experience can be cultivated and nurtured, leading to increased customer retention and ultimately increased revenue.

About the Author

Troy Hiltbrand is the chief information officer at Amare Global where he is responsible for its enterprise systems, data architecture, and IT operations. You can reach the author via email.

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