A seismic shift is occurring in the marketing and media landscape. The traditionally segregated worlds of systems integration, customer relationship marketing, marketing strategy, analytics, creative and media planning and buying are converging. Many companies are developing this integrated strategy today, and the industry is buzzing about a "new breed" of marketing. This fuels conversations about innovative new business models. The continuing rise of the data-driven marketer is the focus of many media reviews right now.
In reality, there are many factors driving the overall shift, but the big themes that have emerged are centered around people-based marketing. More specifically, how do you plan and execute marketing and media strategies that understand and influence real people in today's fragmented, digitally led consumer ecosystem?
The People-based Technology and Data Stack
You're a marketer who loves the possibility of the Holy Grail: addressable, people-based marketing across channels and devices, powered by technology and data. Sounds great, but what's under the hood? A marketer's technology and data partner supply chain is often the basis of extensive evaluation and perceived business transformation, but many companies don't understand the core components they need. For people-based marketing today, core components include, among many other things:
- CRM data as a foundation.
- Third-party sources at the person level and/or data management platforms, or DMPs, for additional attributes and insights (mapped to PII data such as email, phone and address).
- Direct matching of CRM data to user IDs of media and data ecosystems for person-level audience sizing and targeting.
- A persistent identity of each audience segment created and targeted across channels.
- Campaign management and bidding platforms (DSPs for real-time display buying, search and social buying platforms, email management platforms, etc.) .
- Tagging, measurement/attribution, dynamic creative and site personalization platforms.
The challenge is even more daunting when you add to these the trade-offs of using one platform versus another, caused by the lack of interoperability and transparency of data. You can't get it right without paying serious attention to the proper tech and data stack as a foundation. The reality today is that a fully integrated stack that provides all you need is hard to come by. An assembly of best-of-breed point solutions from various partners is required to ensure that gaps are filled and value is maximized.
Evolution of Data-Driven to People-Based Planning
Data-driven marketing and media planning is nothing new; we have always used data. In recent years the DMP has become the technology du jour for powering audience insights and activation. However, these data sources have primarily been panel- and cookie-based. Today, the opportunity exists to build plans and activation strategies that start with people-based data. CRM, transaction and behavior data (personally identifiable information) about customers and prospects that sits in marketing databases is often overlooked, hard to access and leverage, or detached from the media planning process. But it can serve as the fuel for more accurate, relevant and targeted content and media that drives more effective results.
Easier said than done.
To effectively take advantage of CRM data as a scalable foundation for planning and activation, we must consider factors that include privacy, compliance and regulatory, data models, and onboarding. These are aspects that many modern marketers misunderstand or simply aren't equipped to leverage. But most marketers know they need to change this quickly to capitalize on the opportunity.
Database Marketing Fundamentals Evolve to Fully Programmatic Operating Models
Database marketing fundamentals have been overlooked. Fundamentals such as segmented audiences aligned to segmented messaging, an audience journey-based approach, extensive testing and predictive analytics need to be at the core, not treated separately from the sexier functions of today's digital channels, where the latest trends and innovations are common.
Digital audience platforms can transform strategy and planning and drive real-time activation across channels and devices, but the cultures of database marketing and modern digital media must be bridged. To do this, traditional channel silos must be broken down so that audience segments are developed from an integrated, CRM-centric planning approach, and programmatic is viewed as holistic use of data and technology, regardless of channel. The theory of people-based, data-driven marketing is alive and well, but marketers need to take a good look at these functions and start bridging the culture and competency gaps in order to capitalize on the opportunities.
About the Author
Gerry Bavaro is senior VP, Enterprise Solutions Group, at Merkle, where he oversees the planning and development of innovative marketing and media solutions that leverage CRM data, programmatic technologies, cross-channel performance media strategies and advanced analytics. Additionally, he leads Merkle's global partnerships. Gerry is a digital marketing veteran with over 17 years of experience, including roles as chief strategy officer at Omnicom Media Group's Resolution Media, senior VP-performance marketing at Digitas, exec VP at Didit and account director at Agency.com.
About Merkle Inc.
Merkle is a global data-driven, technology-enabled performance marketing agency and the largest independent agency in the U.S. for CRM, digital and search. For more than 25 years, Fortune 1,000 companies and leading nonprofit organizations have partnered with Merkle to maximize the value of their customer portfolios. The agency's heritage in data, technology and analytics forms the foundation for its skills in understanding consumer insights. When combined with its strength in performance media, Merkle creates customer experiences that drive improved marketing performance and shareholder value.