Smarter Data continued – Creepy or clever?

The second installment of a recap of this year's Marketing Association’s ‘Smarter Data’ event.

smarter data review marketing association event 2013(Click here to read Part 1 of Dennis' recap of the Marketing Association's Smarter Data event.)

Tom Skotidas – Employee as landing page

For someone who specialises in B2B online lead generation, it was no surprise to see Skotidas kick off the presentation by showing the LinkedIn profile of one of his employees. What was slightly surprising was that the profile that he brought up actually ranks second in Google for a certain keyword term ahead of many more prolific websites, some of which spend a lot of money on maintaining their search rankings. The double whammy comes when you realise that registering a LinkedIn page costs nothing and populating it with the right search keywords takes only a bit of research and the Google Keyword Tool, which is also absolutely free.

Skotidas’ ‘inbound selling’ journey started two years ago and has led his agency to adopt a more inbound-focused approach to sales and marketing. His tips for marketers looking to replicate his success with generating inbound leads? Ensure that your social profiles get as much attention as your other inbound marketing efforts and roll this out company-wide. Whoever said that your receptionist can’t be a multi-million dollar lead-generation machine?

Rachel Harrison – How to build a C.A.R.

Not the kind of car that you use to drive to work every day but the kind that acts a foundation for gaining deeper insights into your customer data, a.k.a. the ‘Customer Analytics Record’. Yes, that car! Harrison spends a lot of her time at Westpac building such analytical ‘vehicles’ and, from this point of view, she can be considered a masterful data mechanic. She willingly shared some tips and tricks that have been picked up over the last 20 years of applying statistics and data modelling to solving real-world business problems.

Harrison mirrored Summer Collins’ sentiment as described in yesterday's post that it is not the fancy toys that create actionable insights but the people ‘behind the microscope’ who do so. She also mentioned the importance of trying to understand the underlying business issues that analysis is meant to solve and thinking outside the square to come up with creative insights.

Prof. Natalie Jackson – Minding your ABCs

The ‘A-B-C’ of population ageing that is: Accept that population ageing is coming; Buffer, in terms of revising your strategic plans with this inevitability in mind, and Celebrate, which involves proactively managing population ageing within your organisation. What does this have to do with data and marketing you say? Actually, Jackson’s presentation was an interesting departure from the mostly marketing-centred topics of the day which, at the same time, had everything to do with marketing and the sort of products and services that will be offered in future to an increasingly-more older general population. The hyper-aging described by Jackson is a fact of life that organisations and brands need to start preparing for sooner rather than later.

Scott Bradley – Taking big data to small screens

VMob’s biggest market is currently Indonesia, a country with an estimated population of around 240 million and a mobile penetration rate of over 90 percent. Crunching the numbers for one of VMob’s largest Indonesian-based clients, a telecoms operator with an active customer base of around one hundred million mobile users, is truly the definition of big data and big analytics. Bradley drove home the scale of things by pointing out that for every percentage point that the customer churn is decreased by, their client gains a return of around twenty million dollars. These are impressive figures by anyone’s standards!

He pointed out that telcos around the world are struggling to monetise mobile platforms and VMob’s mobile-centric retention marketing solution helps them to hold on to their valued consumers by talking “to the right person at the right location, at the right time.” Despite not being a fan of the word ‘loyalty’, Bradley seconded Hywel Evans on the importance of influencing customers using clever data-driven marketing in order to build long-term and profitable relationships at the ‘market of one’ level.

Steve Honiss – Fighting cybercrime with a good antivirus

Who needs a big stick when you have big data? While not being a marketer, Honiss fully realises the benefits of using data to better engage with customers. In his case, ‘customers’ are the victims of cybercrime and his ‘campaigns’ involve tracking down the perpetrators who commit criminal offences online. Honiss mentioned that the forms of cybercrime are quite varied but the underlying motive for committing it is the same: “it’s all about money”. So, what is a simple preventative measure that you can take to ensure that you don’t become a victim yourself? He recommends keeping your anti-virus software up-to-date and using your common sense. Yep, it’s that simple ... Oh, and do think twice before deciding to wire several hundred or thousand dollars to Nigeria in order to claim your multi-million lottery win. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Matt Annerino – Managing a billion eDMs a year (without blinking an eye)

In his job as VP of Direct Marketing at Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, Annerino is surrounded by large numbers, as well as lots and lots of data. Consider the following statistics: in order to ensure that concert-goers around North America are kept in the loop about their favourite musicians’ touring itineraries, Annerino’s team runs 900 marketing campaigns per month with eDMs going out to an opt-in database of 20 million fans, resulting in over a billion emails being sent per year. This figure is not a typo and the more astounding statistic is that most of these campaigns are run manually!

Interestingly enough, the email marketing platforms being used by the DM department are readily available off-the-shelf. So what is the secret then? The success of Live Nation’s data marketing effort is based on its ‘Affinity Model’, which involves collecting a limited set of actionable data points and then conducting constant A/B tests in order to figure out which communications resonate the most with consumers. If anything, this proves that the fundamentals of good direct marketing remain the same even in the ‘Big Data era’. Annerino’s parting words? Focus on results, not buzzwords.

Clever, or just plain creepy?

So the question still stands: is all of this data trickery creepy or clever? Those present on the day overwhelmingly voted in favour of the latter, with the discussion panel on stage even gaining a convert from the ‘creepy’ side of the argument at one point in the debate. So as far as the Smarter Data attendees were concerned, the digital marketing innovations discussed are to be lauded and applauded, rather than shamed and blamed. However, as with all technological innovations that are embedding themselves into our existence at a breathtaking speed, there must be a degree of vigilance involved when looking to apply these to our own marketing efforts.

What is acceptable from a moral standpoint may not always be entirely clear and your sense of ethics as a marketer will play an important role in being able to draw the line when looking for new ways to understand and connect with your customers. Regardless of what side of the debate you’re on, it is apparent that the role of data cannot be ignored and its ubiquitous nature will bring about even more seismic changes, further increasing the transparency of our ‘glasshouse society’. Creepy, huh… Or did I just hear someone say clever?

Dennis Kibirev is the chief content curator @protodigi, a blog that explores the topics of marketing and technology (MarTec), technopreneurship, digital creativity and social media