Microsoft knows that speed kills

Microsoft Data Intelligence

In just two weeks, hundreds of marketers will descend upon Dx3 Canada to learn new ways to present their brands to customers. Mobile, social media, and e-commerce have disrupted traditional marketing, placing greater a value on analytics and insights over more Don Draper-like practices. But understanding the value of digital and capitalizing on the opportunity are two different things.

Microsoft’s Alyson Gausby and Chris Di Lullo will be leading a session at Dx3 entitled ‘How Data Can Help You Win Your Customers Hearts (And Wallets)‘. BetaKit spoke with both Alyson and Chris about their session and the current state of data intelligence in digital marketing.

How aware are marketers of data intelligence and its application on their jobs?

We live in a digital world and our rate of technological adoption is only going to accelerate. As more facets of Canadians’ lives become more connected, reaching and connecting with consumers requires a new approach – one that requires data.

There’s a lot of talk about power of ‘big data’ and how it’s revolutionizing marketing. On one hand, there’s this wealth of information we can leverage to better understand our customers, personalize things for them, help them discover new things, and be in the right place at the right time. On the other hand, to be able to tap into the value in this data, we need to have the right people, with the right skills, and the right tools.

“Speed (or lack thereof) is the biggest challenge.”

While we see that there’s a keen interest in data from both brands and agencies, very few feel they’re currently able to optimize the data they have (let alone the streams they’ll be collecting tomorrow).

The good news: we know we don’t know. As marketers ramp up their analytics teams and tools become more prevalent and intuitive, we’ll see marketing teams work smarter and customer experiences become better. Brands that take unlocking the power of their data seriously will lead tomorrow, so we’re excited to talk about what this looks like (both for consumers and for brands) at our session at DX3!

Your team has done some case studies with marketers, correct? What are the specific pain points they’re coming to you looking for help with?

That’s right. We’ve worked with many companies and whether they’re a media company, in financial services, or retail, the pain points marketers face tend to be the same. There are hurdles with collecting, analyzing, and communicating their insights:

  • Getting access to the data can be a challenge, especially when it already exists within their company or organization.
  • Often they’re using disparate and legacy tools or systems – having the right tools to analyze the data is essential to speed, accuracy, and depth of insights.
  • Being able to then communicate these insights in a straightforward, digestible way with a short turnaround can also be difficult.

Overall, speed (or lack thereof) is the biggest challenge. Marketers are dealing with overwhelming amounts of data that they have to sift through and spend countless hours analyzing to draw out any insights but the reality is that they need to make decisions in real-time, faster than their competition.

Where is the data coming from? Is it a matter of marketers leveraging and analyzing data they already have (email, sales, etc.) or getting access to new information (social, industry baselines, etc.)?

It’s a combination of both. There’s already a wealth of information we can use, ranging from customer details (like profiles and preference settings), to historic information (like browsing and purchase history) to real-time signals (like location, time, weather).

At the same time, as consumers add more digital devices and services to their world (including wearables and smart appliances), there will be more signals to tap into.

As a consumer insights specialist, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we also need to have a solid understanding of the consumer landscape, the shopping journey, and digital and consumer trends to get the full picture. After all, great marketing is based on deep insights.

What role is mobile playing in acquiring this data?

As I said before, the more devices and screens that consumers add to their repertoire, the more signals we have to draw from.

Mobile also gives us the benefit of accessing real-time information, which can be used to tailor communications to reach and engage people in the right moment. But our phones are also by far our most personal devices, so mobile marketing needs to respect that. It needs to be personal or helpful on some level, or elicit an emotional response. We’re starting to see marketers realize this – we’ve seen some great mobile campaigns that are truly helpful, make things easier, and add value for consumers.

There’s a big gap between collecting data, running analysis, and producing insights. Where do marketers need the most help?

This is a great question because marketers need help in all three areas and all three need to be working in order to produce insights.

At the end of the day, marketers need to show value – return on data is the new ROI. Collecting and having access to the right data and the right tools to analyze it will allow marketers to uncover the insights they need to:

  • Reach their highest opportunity customers with the most powerful messages at the right time to spur action.
  • Deepen customer engagement by delivering tailored experiences based on customer preferences.
  • Make near real-time decisions in how they engage customers across platforms.

Do consumers actually want a relationship with brands? If so, what kind of relationship? How do marketers keep it from getting spooky?

We’ve found through our Digital Trends research (the new 2015 edition will debut at DX3) that as consumers’ relationships with technology mature, their expectations of brands and the types of relationships they want to have with brands are also evolving.

More and more, the types of personalized experiences that consumers are looking for require data. This research also shows that consumers are willing to share their information, provided that they feel in control of it and see real value from the exchange. So, the more marketers enable integrated, intelligent experiences using data, the easier it is for consumers to see this benefit and proactively share their information and engage with brands.

At the same time, we still need to make sure we’re not overstepping boundaries and getting ‘spooky’, as you’ve put it (like the infamous Target example when they targeted a pregnant teenager before she told her parents). It’s essential that brands are open about data usage and remove friction by using data to give value for every data point collected.

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.