My client, a brand-side marketing executive, and I were talking about incorporating dynamic marketing into his overall direct-marketing strategy.
Dynamic marketing is real-time personalization, where the entire content of an email or direct mail changes for each individual recipient based on their profiles and interests. This is like Amazon’s example of “Customers like you also expressed interest in these products” -- but in an email.
My client’s question was a very good one. Many brand marketers assume that their email service provider (ESP) or direct-mail print shop partners can do the heavy lifting to make dynamic marketing happen.
A good partner can help, but there are limits. For example, too much processing at the point of sending an email campaign will slow down the send engine too much, and no ESP wants to delay getting your emails out the door.
Here’s a list of critical systems across databases and analytics that you want to have operational before you commit to dynamic marketing.
Marketing database. First up, you will need a marketing database to manipulate your data exactly how you need it. Your regular customer management database is unlikely to do the job because it won’t provide the flexibility or speed you need. You’ll also be applying propensity models and other analytic tools here to help identify customer needs at an individual level. This is something you probably already need, not exclusive to dynamic marketing.
Offer database. You’ll also want an offer database, though this may be something you can add later on. This will include product information and offers that you can support based on your margins. Without an offer database, you can still use other tools to send offers and products to your customers, but you won’t have the same flexibility.
Your analytical systems and content management systems will enable you to identify and segment each customer in your marketing database; track and analyze tastes and spending patterns independently; and personalize your marketing communications based on what products your customer -- and people with a similar profile -- have shopped for online. You’ll also know if your message is hitting or missing the mark and how to adjust it accordingly.
Here are the top tools you’ll want:
Predictive analytics tools help you to identify and rank your most promising customers and predict what products customers are likely to buy, and how much they are willing to spend in the future.
There are two broad functions of predictive analytics: lead scoring and modeling. Predictive lead scoring analyzes historical data related to successful sales and assigns scores to help you rank the value of different customer profiles. Predictive modeling predicts future customer behavior by analyzing current and historical data about what they’ve bought, their demographics, location, and so forth.
Your existing analytics team may have these tools already, so it’s time to update or refresh those models and scores. Then you can determine how to modify the scores into an easy-to-apply rubric that will tell your printing/sending partner which offer goes to which customer and in what order as each communication is dynamically created and sent.
Dynamic media management technology. So many times, marketers forget the effort required to manage the creative aspects of sending something different to every single customer. Fortunately, your Web site may already use this technology to create interactive media and catalogues that engage customers by allowing them to zoom, rotate and modify images of products with a click or drag of a mouse.
If your Web site team has a dynamic image serving engine, you are in luck. This tool can be used to push content to your emails based on templates you develop, and it can use the existing site catalogue of images to do so. This will help right-size the required creative effort tremendously. You may also be able to use this to facilitate work with your print shop.
Every marketer’s organization is different, so there may be other systems gaps you need to fill. What other systems are you missing to create a great 1:1 marketing system? Let me know by commenting below.