Is It REALLY A Customer Data Platform?
This post originally appeared on David Raab’s Customer Experience Matrix blog.
When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I’ve been illustrating the point recently by asking whether every system I see is really a Customer Data Platform (CDP). The question comes up because nearly every customer management system builds its own customer database, which is one core function of a CDP.
What distinguishes CDPs is that they make their database accessible to other execution systems and add some type of customer management intelligence. This intelligence ranges from behavior flags, segment codes, or predictive model scores to treatment recommendations to full-blown campaign management. Sometimes the enriched data is all that’s exposed to the execution systems, although usually the underlying customer profiles are available as well.
Often the CDPs support just one stage of the customer life cycle, such as acquisition or retention: this in itself doesn’t disqualify a system, since I expect that they’ll expand in the future. The other key feature is that CDPs are designed to be run by marketers, not IT staff, even though IT will usually play a role in connecting to company-managed data sources.
I bring all this up partly to clarify that I’m actually being more selective than you might think in deciding what to call a CDP and partly because I’m writing today about Aginity, which refers to itself as a “customer insight appliance” but I think can rightly be classified as a CDP. This in turn matters because CDPs solve a critical problem – marketers’ need for better customer databases – so identifying the widest possible range of CDP vendors increases the chances of each marketer finding a solution that fits her requirements.
On to Aginity itself. Functionally, the system is organized into layers for data loading, database management and analytics, and data consumption, which is exactly the model you’d expect from a CDP. Where it differs from most CDPs is the underlying technology. Aginity runs on a Netezza or similar “massively parallel processing” (MPP) data appliance that would typically run on-premise at the client, rather than being accessed remotely in a “Software as a Service” (SaaS) model.
Of course, most marketers couldn’t care less about this difference. They might care more if Aginity was a tool for IT departments, but in fact marketers can control most Aginity functions beyond the initial connections with source systems, and those connections require IT help even for SaaS systems.
Digging a bit deeper into the technical details (and feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph; it will not be on the final exam), Aginity uses a combination of relational and Hadoop data stores, which lets it add new data sources without formal data modeling. It uses a simple wizard that lets non-technical users add new data elements and expose them on a metadata layer. The system automatically generates scripts to load new data and distribute it appropriately on the data appliance. The system doesn’t do the type of “fuzzy matching” needed to associate customer identities across different platforms when no direct link is available; it relies on the client or external partners to make those connections.
Once loaded, the data can be queried directly via SQL, typically using Aginity’s free Query Workbench, which is widely used for MPP databases throughout the industry. Or the data can be published using other Aginity tools that create data marts for external analysis and execution systems. The publishing tools can be run by a marketing analyst, although Aginity says most clients let IT staff use them so IT can enforce quality standards, governance rules, backup management, and similar best practices.
The net result is that Aginity can have a new customer database available to marketing in 90 days or less (often much less), compared with the six to twelve months this typically requires. It’s this speed and flexibility that make me consider Aginity a tool for marketers – and thus a CDP – rather than a tool for IT departments.
Aginity also provides some analytical and customer management features of its own. These include ability to add derived attributes such as lifetime value calculations and segment codes to customer records. These attributes can call on any data gathered by the system, a critical advantage of a CDP. Customer lists can be fed to external systems for direct execution, such as sending an email, or can be loaded into data marts that external systems access with their own segmentation and campaign management tools. Aginity currently provides a range of analysis features including dashboards, profile reports, and segment migration over time. It relies on external systems for advanced analytics such as predictive modeling and plans tighter integration with such systems to allow more precise control over customer treatments.
Aginity was founded in 2006 as a service firm to assemble data for analytics and marketing execution. Its current product, first released in January 2012, is based on tools it developed as a service agency. The company’s clients are concentrated among large retailers but include some ecommerce, manufacturing, and other industries that handle large amounts of customer data.
#DF13: Lessons In Big Data From Politics
By Kim Ann Zimmermann, Managing Editor
While the rollout of Obamacare is providing many lessons on how not to run a web site, the Obama presidential campaigns have been touted as being extremely tech savvy.
Amy Gershkoff, Director of Customer Analytics and Insights for eBay and former Obama campaign staffer, shared these lessons for marketers during a session at Dreamforce:
- Don’t focus on Big Data. “Most marketers and corporations today don’t need more data,” Gershkoff said. “Focus on better ways to use and integrate the data you already have;”
- Have one key performance metric;
- Don’t focus solely on the cost of content. “If you’re just looking at dollars and cents when it comes to content,” she said, “you’re missing half the story;”
- Have a daily war room. “It will help you recognize the early warning signs and you’ll be able to quickly pivot;” and
- Use best-in-class business intelligence tools.
Josh Hendler, CTO for Hill + Knowlton, and a former member of the technology team for the Obama campaigns, cited several takeaways from his days on the campaign trail that translate to marketing:
- Data silos can hamper the ability to target messages and learn more about your prospects;
- You need to create a culture of testing; and
- You need to radically empower evangelists.
Hendler concluded: “Employees, customers and partners can be some of your best marketers.”
Day 1 At #DF13: Look At The Walls And Dogs Under Water For Content Inspiration
By Kim Ann Zimmermann, Managing Editor
When Kyle Lacy, now the Senior Manager of Global Content Marketing for ExactTarget, was selling air time at a radio station, he got this piece of advice: When you go into someone’s office, take a look around at the pictures on their walls. It will give you a clue to their interests.
“That advice still holds true today,” he told an audience at Dreamforce. “Our job is to create content that fits the buyer.”
Lacy added that content should evoke emotion. He started his presentation by showing pictures taken of dogs under water. “It’s simple, it’s funny and it gets me every time I look at them.”
Chris Moody, VP of Marketing at Compendium, which was recently acquired by Oracle, echoed the sentiment that short, interesting pieces can get the job done. “You don’t always have to have these big, major pieces of content. It doesn’t always have to be amazing. Amazing doesn’t scale.”
Moody said that content can be put into three buckets: high-, medium- and low-effort. Low-effort content, which he defined as content generated by users, employees and partners, can be the most effective.
User-generated content, which many find the most trustworthy information, is important for building relationships with prospects. “Trust, loyalty and rapport are really the bedrock of every interaction,” said Marcus Nelson, Founder & CEO of Addvocate, an employee advocacy platform. He added that 90% of people trust recommendations from people they know, 70% trust online reviews, and 14% trust advertising.
Breaking The Google Keyword Analytics Data Habit Is Hard To Do
There are some marketers out there who are seriously missing their Google keyword analytics. Some are even saying all they want for Christmas is their keyword search data back. Well, that’s a tall order for Old St. Nick, so it seems as if marketers are going to have to work on an alternative.
DGR’s Associate Editor Glenn Taylor delved into the topic and gathered some insights from a variety of sources. Check out his story for some fresh ideas.
Lee Odden at TopRank Online Marketing had a little fun with the [not provided] dilemma recently on his blog — posting a picture of a sexy smile with a missing tooth. But he also had some serious advice for those who are going through keyword analytics withdrawal that is worth repeating: You can still do keyword research to anticipate demand for phrases that reflect what your customers care about.
Yes, it was much easier to rely on Google to tell you which keyword searches were driving the most traffic. But it can be done. And marketers just might be better at figuring out the most relevant keywords for their business than Google. After all, they’re busy building barges.
How Much Does A Lead Cost? Depends On Who You Ask
This blog and infographic, which provides a detailed look at the cost of a lead, was originally posted on Madison Logic’s blog.
“How much does a lead cost?”
That just might be the most common question that we’ve encountered while working in the lead generation space for the past five years. Unfortunately, much to the dismay of the asker, the answer is not as cut-and-dry as they would like.
As a result, we’ve taken a look at the Madison Logic B2B Lead Generation Database, and compiled the following metrics in our analysis of the average cost per lead across several verticals, and the positive (or negative, depending on how you look at it) impact that lead filters can have on price.
Here are some highlights:
- The cost of a lead can differ immensely by industry.
- Setting lead filters will have a significant percentage increase on lead cost.
- Additionally, strict filters for lead qualification purposes may not guarantee a sale.
- A supplemental lead-nurturing strategy is crucial toward converting a generated lead into a life-long.
See the infographic below:
At #EE13, Time Out For A Little Relationship Therapy
By Kim Ann Zimmermann, Managing Editor, Demand Gen Report
Every relationship hits it rough patches — whether in business or in life. Megan Heuer is VP and Group Director, Data-Driven Marketing, at SiriusDecisions — aka “The Marketing Therapist” — discussed the state of the marketing-sales relationship at Eloqua Experience 2013.
“If you haven’t invested in a marriage, it won’t be successful,” Heuer told the audience. “Marketing is out of the honeymoon phase and there is a lot of pressure.”
The first step to improving any relationship, Heuer said, is identifying the problem areas. Signs of relationship trouble include:
- Low response rates;
- It’s harder to get the right contacts on the phone;
- Sales acceptance is lower than it used to be;
- There are too many in the dreaded “stage zero”; and
- Marketing not sourcing as much into the pipeline.
Her prescription for a happy marriage:
- Identify your tactic — account based marketing, named account marketing or industry segment;
- Don’t plan tactics without account data;
- Align roles and goals;
- Execute by mapping existing assets to account goals; and
- Evaluate where the relationship stands.
Breaking Bad Content Habits From EE13
It’s my first Eloqua Experience, but I’m already experiencing the love of content here in San Francisco. In the kickoff keynote, Oracle Eloqua execs gave a shout out to their new Compendium colleagues and discussed the role of content in upgrades to its marketing automation platform. To top it off, Vince Gilligan, the Creator and Executive Producer of Breaking Bad, offered some content creation inspiration.
“We need to convert buyers to revenue, and to do that we need to guide thinking through buying process with great content,” Steve Woods, Group VP, Software Development at Oracle, told the fired-up audience.
Some insights from Gilligan for marketers to follow:
- People want to be told a story. Consumers stick with storytellers they trust;
- People want to be surprised with a ride that is satisfying; and
- Assume your audience is smarter than you are when writing content.
And a few that may work for TV but maybe don’t necessarily translate to marketing:
- He didn’t have an ending in mind when he started writing; and
- He and his writing team really didn’t focus on audience reaction.
There’s No Crying In Baseball, Or Sales And Marketing
It’s October. The baseball playoffs are in full swing. It’s a time when many fans — especially those of losing teams — remember the scene from the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own” in which Tom Hanks tells his 1940s professional women’s baseball team:
“There’s no crying in baseball!”
As an Oakland A’s fan who just experienced their heartbreaking playoff loss to the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series, I can relate. I can also relate as a modern marketer and sales leader.
Market conditions have become more and more challenging for today’s sales leaders. In this environment, many of us have found that we have had to give the same advice to our teams about the “game” they play every day: negotiating profitable agreements with tough buyers.
The bottom line is complaining about the problem won’t get the job done. But proactively managing your sales team for profitable negotiation will.
How can your team make the shift to a more effective negotiation approach that addresses the challenges created by price-focused buyers, aggressive competitors and uncertain economic conditions? Here are the three best practices I recommend to top sales leaders that can produce immediate results for your team:
- Focus Your Sales Force on Broadening the Discussion of Value: With customers, rather than responding to their stated needs, make sure you get your team exploring unconsidered needs – those the customer hasn’t thought about during their sales process. For example, most buyers want to focus quickly on price, and on making price comparisons between suppliers. Smart sellers acknowledge the importance of price in conversations with the buyer, but negotiate a deferral of the discussion. They then ask provocative questions to refocus the discussion on needs the buyer may not be thinking about − such as total lifetime cost of ownership, the costs of switching vendors, the impact of supplier selection on their customer experience, or the fact that their solution allows them to reduce personnel headcount — as a way to favorably reframe the buying decision. This strategy will help create differentiated value that supports more profitable pricing.
- Coach Your Team to Exchange Rather Than Concede Value: Too often, in tough economic conditions, it’s tempting to “give away the store” in order to close business. However, many forget that no value is created from your concessions if you don’t ask your customer to give you something in return. It’s surprising how often coaches fail to ask their sales reps a simple question: “If we give them ______, what do we get back?” This simple question can drive a conversation that leads to more value in the mind of your customers, more profitable agreements for your organization, and a higher level of customer satisfaction. After all, when your customer “puts skin in the game” by giving value back in exchange for your concessions, they feel they had to work hard to get a deal, and value the end result more.
- Embed a Simple Coaching Process:To ensure your salespeople don’t fall back into poor negotiation habits (chasing sliders on the outside of strike zone, if you will), make sure you’ve embedded a simple coaching process that reminds your sales team to do the right thing with buyers when the tension increases.Along these lines, a number of leading companies are implementing solutions that distribute short videos to the sales team on a regular basis, suggesting strategies they can use immediately on sales calls and then encouraging coaches to use those videos as a springboard for more productive, profitable discussions about account negotiation strategies.It’s all about application of proven negotiation concepts.For example, a coach might direct her sales team to view a short video on exchanging value rather than giving it away, and then have deal coaching discussions with their sales reps that focus on this question: “What do you expect them to ask for at your next meeting, and what will you request in return for that concession?”
In the end, profitable negotiating is counterintuitive. The right way to handle the tension of buyer negotiations often feels uncomfortable until you’ve “found your swing” and have been successful using new approaches. That’s why it’s so important to coach your team effectively in this critical area. Just remember – no matter how tough the negotiating gets — there’s no crying in baseball, or marketing and sales.
Paul Hennessey is EVP at BayGroup International, a Corporate Visions company, where he is responsible for marketing, research and development. Over the past 25 years he has helped major B2B sales organizations improve negotiation results and execute profitable go-to-market strategies, including work at HP, Cisco, Oracle, Hershey Foods, Johnson & Johnson, Owens Corning and UPS.