New England Patriots Tackle Multichannel Data

Emerging channels add to the existing profusion of data silos. As a result, organizations are turning to analytics to keep their data, processes, and people in unison.

The old adage, "The more things change, the more they stay the same," rings true when it comes to multichannel data. As new channels emerge, companies still grapple with a plethora of data and how to integrate it. Finding ways to bridge the gaps to obtain a holistic view of their customers remains a challenge; so, many firms are turning to analytics strategies to help solve the problem.

Sandra Zoratti, vice president of global solutions marketing for InfoPrint solutions, says that the blending of the customer view remains a daunting task. "I don't know a lot of companies that have achieved it and I believe it is a journey," she says. "It is not an option for marketers to not embark on this journey."

A good place to start, she suggests, is by building simple business rules and conducting segmentation and then moving into profiling and predictive analytics."You will get a higher return for that," she says.

Brian Deagan, CEO of Knotice, adds that today the offline enterprise marketing systems aren't typically in synch with what's happening digitally. "We're seeing the need for a datamart for direct digital marketing that can leverage the investments in data, use that to engage online, and then be able to react in real time," he says.

According to Dhiraj Rajaram, founder and CEO of Mu Sigma, data doubles every 18 months within companies, which adds to the challenge of managing that data holistically. He blames the persistence of data silos on congruency problems, a lack of awareness across the organization about the problems silos create, and the availability of data not being aligned with companies' decision-making cycles.

To start unifying processes and employees, Rajaram recommends building a central definition knowledgebase for analytics, which he calls a standard data dictionary that integrates information, knowledge, and data definitions in a central hub. "Just the creation of analytics alone will not ensure that you will consume it better," Rajaram says. "There are a lot of other things that need to be done to make that happen."

Brian Kardon, CMO of Eloqua, and Rob Garf, global retail strategy leader at Unica, an IBM Company, both advocate for a central analytics database. Kardon says that providing common terminologies helps to synchronize organizations on data integration projects. "Before installing the software, think about, 'What are we going to do?' 'How will we [distribute] the leads and define the terms?' We have clients who can't even define what a customer is," he says.

Garf says that an "analytics center of excellence" standardizes processes for overall customer intelligence; he is seeing an increase in interest in deploying these hubs. "There are pockets of intelligence that live throughout the enterprise. The challenge is to connect that insight into actual action," he says. "Retailers are now thinking about how to manage that interaction and intelligence and who is making the decisions, who owns the customer, and what tools are being used across channels to make decisions."

New England Patriots score with multichannel marketing
The New England Patriots, for instance, successfully operationalized data management and integrated its data across several of its internal operating systems.

Jessica Gelman, vice president of customer marketing and strategy, says that the NFL team is a "pretty complicated organization," operating a number of homegrown databases.

The organization partnered with Clicksquared to link its databases and clean the data in an effort to stop sending multiple communications to customers, as well as to market to them about their specific interests. "Based on feedback from our season ticket holders, we weren't always sharing the right information, in the right way," Gelman says.

Gelman says that the organization places different customers in different databases and in the past none of those systems interacted with each other. The databases include season ticket holders, premium members, people on the waiting list for season tickets, people who purchase single tickets, clients of the events business, Patriots Football Weekly (the team's newspaper) recipients, Patriots Extra Points (the loyalty credit card program) members, Patriots Place (the restaurants and shops at the stadium) customers, The Pro Shop customers, and the fans and ticketholders of the Revolution (a Foxborough-based professional soccer club).

After cleansing the files and then developing a platform that sits on top of its databases and analyzes the data and sends detailed reports, the organization now sees the overlap in customers across databases and has pinpointed individual marketing opportunities. "Our goal is to really engage our customers in a way that's meaningful to them," Gelman says.

As a result of the team's tailored marketing efforts, customer open rates are up 15 percent over last year and click-through rates score even higher. Gelman adds, "We're sending more relevant information in a targeted manner and that has a strong impact on the bottom line."