Category: CDP

As the calendar turns and every new year starts, thought leaders, analysts, and business journalists publish their predictions about business and the economy targeted at us, the CMOs. Which marketing trends, techs, and tactics are here to stay and which are falling by the wayside are always on our minds, but this year feels a bit different. It may be the same list of trends coming from the same pundits but it comes on the heels of a crazy and painful year; amidst the turmoil, 2020 put a rocketship on the trends that we already knew were reshaping consumers’ and employees’ lives, businesses’ and brands’ obligations, and the overall economy. 

After a year of transformation fueled by quarantining, Zoom-ing, and remote everything-ing, there’s more opportunity than ever to put newer and better systems and processes in place to help your teams be more effective and support marketing’s seat at the table of business transformation.

While we’re not trying to put Gartner to the task by using their marketing predictions as a framework for our thoughts, they do shape the thought leadership dialogue in the MarTech world, so we’ll start there.

Return to Hybrid/IRL from the virtual world

We’ve had plenty of time by ourselves to think about what we can do effectively in the digital world, and what we most miss about living our personal and professional lives IRL. We all hope to see a return to events, dining out, shopping and generally engaging with each other in-person, but like it or not, certain elements of daily life can be taken care of more efficiently online–and some consumers will undoubtedly continue to take advantage of the massive digital first buildout of 2020.

Brands are learning to go direct-to-consumer, reducing or even eliminating their reliance on resale channels. With the disappearance of third-party cookies on the horizon, they’ve increased their investment in gathering first-party data to understand their customers and serve up truly personalized content, marketing experiences, and even product recommendations. The shift from aggregating to leveraging customer data will only continue accelerating, and brands need the capability not only to collect first-party data but to analyze it, gain insights from it, and execute on those insights in real-time.

Your customer is not your marketing channel

In 2020, your consumers increasingly moved away from a reliance on a specific channel for their interactions with your business, the migration from retail shopping experiences for a blend of digital and IRL experiences being the most glaring. Gartner sees this channel-agnostic consumer behavior driving organizations away from channel-centric marketing organizational structures and marketing programs and towards embracing the orchestration and delivery of holistic, customer experience-focused programs–and rebuilding their organizational structure to support them. 

We’re all for this migration, but the fact is, this transition will take time for marketers. 2021 offers you an opportunity to emphasize the program management function in your teams. This will  support cross-channel market analysis and the coordinated, multi-channel marketing programs you’ll invariably be trying this year. With process change introduced to the organization, your teams are going to (if they haven’t already) look for new tools that support and reinforce these processes.

But it’s really the mindset underlying these motions that matters the most. Marketers must start putting the individual customer first. Practically speaking, the only way to do that is to figure out how to deliver 1:1 personalization at scale. (We have some ideas about that too.)

As much as we’re all collectively rushing to embrace (and create) the future, many customers will want a return to the normal as we’ve understood it for our entire lives: physical interactions, shopping in stores, talking directly to product experts and brand representatives. All the more important, then, to understand customers as individuals and commit to delivering the experiences they’ve shown they want with their brand interactions. 

Subscription everything

Thinking back to the ancient, pre-Spotify past (in other words, back when I started at Yahoo! in 1998), consumers expected to “own” things like movies and music, and brands expected to create their digital experience as an extension of their offline business. The major advances of the internet happened with the support of the advertising business model, allowing the consumer access to meaningful content by allowing your customers to be monetized with, in many cases, a third party.  

As privacy regulations and consumers’ concerns about data change, more and more organizations are reducing access to their content and restricting third-party access to their customers’ data in turn. Instead they are offering products and services from entertainment, to groceries, dining, to transportation, to almost anything as a subscription service. The most important aspect of this shift is that when a business has ‘gone direct,’ they are explicitly changing their mindset towards building and deepening their customer relationships. That means shifting their focus to subscription health metrics and programs like subscriber retention, churn reduction, and customer lifetime value.

This shift in the mindset and subsequent business model is the natural evolution of the internet–and your responsibility in marketing is to evolve the customer experience. How can organizations, specifically in the roles of marketing and managing the customer experience, set themselves up for success? New techniques like Predictive Audiences allow marketers deploy artificial intelligence and machine learning to build lookalike models based on desirable customer traits, like high customer lifetime value, and undesirable ones, like high risk of churn–and then target those customers with appropriate marketing and CX interventions. They can craft journeys to move customers from unknown to known to purchaser to subscriber to brand advocate. And with omni-channel orchestration, they can ensure that customers receive a consistent experience and deliver the right message, at the right time, and in the right channel.

Embracing the customer experience revolution

Gartner goes so far as to predict that marketing, sales, and customer service functions will actually merge under a unified customer experience function in organizations. While I’m personally skeptical that companies will completely reconfigure their organizational structure, the underlying observation–that CX increasingly drives strategic decisions–is accurate. Organizations need the data and more importantly the insight into their customers to create and grow brand engagement.

How does this manifest? Given the scope of the challenge, the idea that individual marketers (or even teams of marketers) can determine or even intuit next best experiences for customers is not realistic. Marketers need technology to achieve the necessary scale. There are three technology capabilities necessary to gain these critical insights into customers: 

  • The ability to gather first-party behavioral data with real predictive value across all your digital properties–website, emails, social, ads, mobile apps, etc.
  • The ability to store data securely in a privacy-compliant data warehouse
  • The ability to decode the signal from the noise in this data in what Lytics calls a decision engine, using machine learning and data science principles to determine appropriate customer experiences and push them out through marketing execution channels

Content is (still) in charge

At its heart, the internet is a marketplace of content competing for users’ attention. Effective content drives engagement.  When you are focused on finding the exact content that will resonate with each individual customer, whether your audience is a business or a consumer or a consumer in a business, it’s imperative to know what your users want and deliver it to them. 

What other articles should we recommend to a given user to deepen brand engagement, encourage purchases, or achieve some other organizational goal? To do this, organizations must first understand their content corpus. What constellation of topics does a given article touch on? What other articles share those topics? Then they must understand their users’ content affinity.  Which of these topics does a given user show interest in–through clicks, time on page, and conversion activities? 

Netflix’ success has been built on a number of innovations–from the logistics of delivering DVDs through subscription model, to building out an internet delivery pipeline, to producing content to rival physical studios–but the innovation that sustains and grows their user base is their recommendation engine. They extract relevant “topics” from their content, use first-party data to understand whom it appeals to, and then create real-time personalized recommendations that cross genres, content types (films, TV shows, documentaries, etc.), and geographic boundaries to deliver behavior-based recommendations–and to make decisions on where to invest their money in purchasing distribution rights and financing production. 

Creating a business engine built on AI, content, and first-party data works, as their subscriber base amply demonstrates–and it’s more broadly applicable than in just the media industry.

Satisfying customers in 2021

If we’ve been saying, “The world is changing” for a long time now, 2020 made it clear that the world has changed–and marketers have to adapt to it. Your customer expects a 1:1 relationship. They understand  that technology gives you the ability to offer them personalized, relevant experiences. And most importantly, they deserve it. Brands like Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon have proven it’s possible, and consumers are disappointed when companies fail to deliver.  You have to deliver great  experiences, in person and in the digital realm, across the customer journey, from anonymous first-time engagements all the way through to long-term, engaged customers. 

Watch our short demo video to see how you can quickly and easily start delivering personalized experiences to your customers with Lytics.

Lytics President Jascha Kaykas-Wolff has held executive positions at companies like BitTorrent, Webtrends, and Microsoft, as well as CMO at Mozilla. 

Category: CDP

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Building and buying a best-of-breed customer data platform in 2021

A few years ago, David Raab’s definition of a customer data platform (CDP) for the Customer Data Platform Institute was a reasonable enough starting point to understand its purpose. It said that a CDP was:

a marketer-managed system that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems

But the CDP industry has changed a lot over the past few years. New entrants to the CDP category position their offerings as providing the solution, when in fact they may often be solving for only one very specialized function like email, while including some additional features one might consider as those of a CDP. Corporate acquisitions by big players in CX and MarTech space have created all-in-one tech stacks that include CDP offerings, but they are not fully developed or only function within a limited technology ecosystem.

And the emergence of a new and rightfully dominant platform–the Cloud Data Warehouse in the form of offerings like Google Cloud, Amazon AWS, Snowflake and Microsoft Azure–has made the all-in-one CDP essentially a dead-end proposition.

The forces behind digital transformation

Technological advances aren’t the only force driving these changes. Structural changes in the economy are dictating that companies with the scale to benefit from CDPs fast-track their digital transformation initiatives: reaching out directly to consumers, through digital channels, to deliver real-time personalized experiences.

Digitally native companies are disrupting multiple industries, from consumer packaged goods and retail to media, entertainment, and even consumer services like transportation and fitness. COVID-19 and its effects rippling through the economy have accelerated these trends as more and more consumers eschew traditional channels like retail in favor of direct digital interactions with brands.

The end of the marketing technology suite

Gartner sees that these disruptive changes are signaling an end to the self-contained marketing technology suite. In the report Marketing Technology Drivers of Genius Brand Performance, they explain:

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic disruption are likely to accelerate the best-of-breed trend. Many enterprises are quickly confronting new business realities and applying coordinated pressure to drive transformation efforts, overcoming historical inertia in their own marketing technology stack. According to the Gartner 2019 Marketing Technology Survey, the proportion of respondents with a strong preference for the integrated suite approach shrank from 24% in 2018 to just 8% in 2019. 

Leading brands have recognized that all-in-one suite solutions can provide value, but they must be complemented with point solutions that address technology needs specific to the organization.

Genius brands moving toward best-of-breed martech

Today, a “persistent, unified customer database” is not a goal in itself. It’s another tool to be deployed in the service of larger, revenue-focused goals. For companies looking to go direct-to-consumer, a customer data platform is not a single tool or database, but rather a piece of an integrated best-of-breed system to deliver the 1:1 digital marketing experiences necessary to build meaningful, personal relationships with their customers.

What does a best-of-breed customer data platform look like?

So what are the functional requirements of a modern CDP (whether you build or buy) that can deliver truly personalized marketing to thousands if not millions of prospects and customers? It needs to meet three key requirements: a data pipeline (or Customer Data Infrastructure), a data warehouse for your Customer 360, and a decision engine–a way to translate data into actionable insights for your marketing activation channels.

Modern Best-of-Breed CDP

It needs a data pipeline. A CDP must be able to collect critical behavioral and intent data from an organization’s owned digital assets, such as its website, social channels, ads, mobile apps, and email interactions. First-party behavioral data signal intent and translate into predictive insight far more effectively than static, third-party, and demographic data. As individuals’ intents evolve over time, new behavioral data must continue to be ingested for the business to stay up-to-date with its customers’ needs. Companies like Segment and Rudderstack are excellent examples of customer data pipelines to be considered in a best-of-breed CDP stack.

It needs a cloud data platform for Customer 360. Industry-leading cloud data platforms today are flexible, open, and secure. They can host, analyze, visualize, and secure the vast quantities of data required to maintain a single source of truth: complete, accurate 360° customer profiles. Building a single source of truth across the entire organization requires a cloud data platform like Google BigQuery with robust customer data management features and enterprise scale. Instead of creating yet another customer data silo with a standalone CDP, the cloud data platforms provide industry-leading data storage, management, security, and analytics capabilities and are the right place to build and manage your company’s Customer 360.

It needs a decision engine to take action. Your CDP must provide actionable customer insights to the people that need them: marketers. This stage is where a best-of-breed CDP solution, rather than opting for a marketing technology walled garden, truly differentiates itself. The companies that are driving the new digital economy–companies like Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, and Peloton to name a few–separate themselves from the competition. They’re using artificial intelligence and machine learning to derive valuable insights from their data to deliver differentiated experiences, things like:

• Personalized web experiences delivered in real-time
• Customized offers based on customer preferences
• Content and product recommendations identified by affinity patterns

We believe that the best brands should take (if they’re not already taking) this approach. Lytics CDP resides in this “decision gap” between your customer 360 data in the cloud and your activation channels–your website, your mobile application, your ads, social media, and emails. It applies its machine learning capabilities to your data, focusing specifically on the first-party behavioral data that underlies most customer actions, and derives insights from them.

The Decision Gap

Powered by data science but built for marketers, Lytics:
• Activates those insights, giving marketers the ability to deploy them across ad platforms and marketing tools
• Orchestrates them in personalized campaigns delivered through multiple channels
• Recommends products and content based on customer affinity, increasing engagement and maximizing return on spend

Find out if your organization is ready for a customer data platform in our CDP Readiness Guide.

Category: CDP

Lytics + Google: Better together

In order to keep up with competition from digitally native companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify, enterprises have had to undertake digital transformation initiatives that re-imagine how to use customer data–and equally importantly, what marketing technologies are required to support such initiatives.

Must-have marketing capabilities in the digital economy include:

• 1:1 personalization, at scale
• Appropriate content and product recommendations
• Relevant, real-time digital experiences
• Unified, omni-channel messages

Lytics is uniquely positioned to deliver on these requirements as the only customer data platform (CDP) built on the Google Cloud Platform. Lytics draws on Google’s data storage, processing, natural language processing, and analytics capabilities with native integrations to Google BigQuery, Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, Ads, and Display and Video 360. Lytics also connects to your marketing technology stack through our pre-built connectors and open API.

Let’s take a look at how this modern approach to data-driven marketing activation drives efficiency and better experience.

Build direct-to-consumer relationships

A leading worldwide consumer packaged goods company–comprised of numerous household brands–wanted to take better advantage of the data stored in its data lake. Specifically, they wanted to establish deeper brand engagement by building direct relationships with its end consumers.

CDP data flows

They rebuilt their data lake in Google Cloud Platform, with Lytics serving as the marketing decision engine. They connected multiple petabytes of data with their activation tools to create automated and consistent marketing experiences for consumers across web, targeted ads, email, and social media. They were able to move from static, demographic-based segments to dynamic predictive audiences based on behavioral and affinity signals, identifying:

• Most appropriate offers
• Product assortment in retail channels
• Potential spikes or issues in supply chain

In the long term, they’ve been able to drive deeper brand engagement with consumers across all their digital marketing channels with personalized messaging, marketing offers, and product recommendations.

Provide real-time marketing experiences

An international entertainment company was looking to provide event attendees with “in the moment” messaging before, during, and after the events it organized and promoted. To do that, though, they needed to have a real-time view of their customers that could power 1:1 marketing campaigns across multiple channels.

This customer used Lytics CDP to integrate its customer data and activation channels, driving personalized marketing messages across the web, ads, email, and social media for its 160 million consumers.

With consumers engaged in individualized life cycles before and after their ticketed events, they were able to strengthen customer relationships and build additional revenue streams.

Arm marketers with the power of data science

An international music distributor with marketing operations around the globe wanted to consolidate disparate data sources into a unified real-time view of their customer data to power marketing communications across multiple channels. They needed to deliver personalized experiences across web and email, but in compliance with the patchwork of privacy regulations that are now in effect in various countries.

The music distributor built a customer data platform in the Google Cloud, using Lytics, BigQuery, and other Google Cloud Platform services to drive customer activation online. With their best-of-breed customer data stack, their marketers worldwide have access to insights built on data from over 2000 websites, more than 500 artists, and more than 50 brands.

With Lytics, the global marketing team can kick off intelligent campaigns that allow scientific models to run and optimize end user experiences in order to accomplish specific engagement goals while staying within compliance constraints.

Level up with Lytics and Google

See how to run marketing more efficiently and effectively than ever. Built on the Google Cloud Platform, and the only CDP available in Google Marketplace, Lytics connects to your existing and future marketing stack to provide intelligent data science-based marketing programs.

Learn more about Lytics and Google here.