Marketers continue to become more technologically astute as their roles evolve, but one tool remains under-utilized: data management platforms. These platforms provide numerous ways for marketers to slice and dice data to develop compelling ways to reach customers, often in real time. However, when used incorrectly, these platforms can push marketing campaigns off-course – which is why marketers must get smart on what the platforms are designed to do and how to use them most effectively.
Data management platforms allow marketers to develop rich audience profiles by unifying data across channels, leading to real-time audience insights. For instance, a data management platform can highlight the customers most likely to be moved by an online ad or emailed offer for a certain product – in real time.
In this way, data management platforms deliver a “sense and respond” command center by providing the tools to identify and respond to the audience with the right message.
But to get this new technology right, marketers must focus on the following critical issues:
Start With Strategy, Not Technology
As with most business goals, it is vital to determine first the goals and strategy to meet those goals, then determine the technology or tools to get there.
Instead, marketers must stay in control to ensure they get the necessary data. Before choosing a technology or platform, marketing, analytics, and IT must set the goals for the new platform by working with business leaders to identify and prioritize use cases. In particular, these use cases could be about reaching new prospective customers based on modeling the behaviors of existing customers, increasing response rates across digital channels by personalizing ads and site experiences for known and unknown visitors, retargeting customers and prospects from online and offline identities.
These are just a few use case examples, but the sky is the limit. The DMP fuels a single view of anonymous visitors, unknown customers, and known customers for personalized marketing.
Create Strong Governance Procedures
As with any big data program, there are concerns about consumer privacy. Data management platforms (DMPs) typically require input from different data vendors and data sources, which could theoretically increase the potential for privacy issues. In reality though, DMPs can help protect consumer privacy by managing the user accounts to define and manage access levels, providing dynamic opt-outs across platforms, and by limiting the ingestion of personally identifiable information. As an example, direct marketing campaign management tools often collect and utilize a consumer’s email address, home address, full name and phone number. DMPs identify all users using anonymized identifiers, and limit the collection of PII by the platform, making it difficult to identify an individual consumer from the data points.
But to protect against data leakage and respect consumer preferences, marketers should develop strong governance plans that ensure that they understand how to manage the data. This includes offering clear opt-outs, preventing unauthorized platform access, and developing secure methods for identity management and data onboarding (linking an offline identity to an online identity).
Focus on Marketing Activation
As already mentioned, DMPs offer significant value by turning data into marketing insights. However, the stream of new data available through a DMP can often overshadow this end result.
But before delving into the finer points of the tactics, marketers should step back and determine which touch points drive the most impact. For instance, is it most important to connect a programmatic display marketing campaigns to search marketing campaigns? Or, do targeted consumers respond best to email and mobile display? If so, then marketers must be sure that to align integration steps, data collection and segment development for these high priority channels.
With data management platforms, the number and type of activations are endless. This is incredibly powerful for marketers, who for years have wondered which ideas motivate consumers to act. Yet this also means that marketers must stay close to their targeted audience, by keeping an eye on their media consumption habits to drive the best campaigns.
Integrate Collection of Data from Multiple Sources
Data is exciting – and the sources of data keep expanding. The overarching benefit of a DMP is to incorporate data from a number of different sources that tell a cohesive story about a consumer over time. These sources include the number of ads viewed and then clicked on, interactions with a website and mobile app, email opens and clicks, and even direct mail or in-store touchpoints.
In addition, DMPs can bring in more data through third-party integrations. For example, a website could utilize a DMP to match consumer interests to site visitor cookies, and present personalized/targeted offers to anonymous site visitors. By focusing on multiple sources of data, these platforms can sort out the data to provide a more complete overview of how consumers behave in order to then target that customer effectively.
Consider a financial services firm that needed to deliver cross-channel personalization at scale. This company worked with Accenture to integrate first, second, and third party data about prospects and customers into a central DMP repository. This move made it easy to test and iterate digital content, to find out which messages or offer resonated the most with each audience segment. At the end of the day, the testing resulted in increasing qualified leads by two times, which led to a return on investment of paid media of more than 10 percent and 25 percent increase in conversions. By optimizing the prospect journey, the financial services firm was able to target prospective clients who were really in the market for their services – and thereby, ready to act.
Maximize Analytics and Segmentation
Analytics is suddenly everywhere – with multiple marketers and brands talking about how to optimize their strategies with analytics. But before marketers go back to school to get a math degree, they should consider how to make their data marketing platform work for them – and make their analytics shine.
DMPs help marketers make sense of all the different types of data coming in. By providing all the information into one repository, marketers can manipulate the data to focus on specific questions, such as whether customers are interested in certain products or how to find audiences similar to current customers. Because DMPs can source large amounts of data, they are a strong starting point for marketers – working with the IT and Analytics professionals – to provide actionable data on consumers.
From those analytical reports, marketers can work on an important marketing strategy: segmentation. By segmenting audiences on the web, brands and marketers can be sure they are providing the right message to the right audience. Consider a telecommunications company that is now able to show different ads to different users because of its DMP strategy. By segmenting customers and customizing ads on the fly, the company is increasing the response rates, and ROI of campaigns.
Yet is important to remember that DMPs are different than other analytics tools such as customer relationship management and big data tools. In comparison to big data tools, marketers can’t expect to build predictive models or machine learning algorithms within a DMP, and unlike a CRM platform, the DMP won’t serve as a customer source of truth. That said, a DMP will collect data on anonymized consumer profiles, integrate data from multiple sources, and apply existing models to segment and target those profiles in real-time.
In sum, marketers can use DMP analytics to create a real-time single view of user experience across digital marketing touchpoints. In this way, analytics DMPs help to uncover consumer behaviors and interests, in order to know how best to tailor the customer experience.
Successful Data Management Platforms
When it comes to successfully utilizing DMPs, marketers need to first break down their goals to best evaluate their individual campaigns and overall data programs. By keeping the above considerations in mind, marketers will be able to experience the full benefits of utilizing DMPs, including:
- Achieving complete activation across channels – Successful DMPs ensure activation of the data along the way, so as to keep up with consumers who are using numerous channels. By doing so, the programs allow for full marketing tech integration across various platforms.
- Protecting against data leakage –Marketers can use the technology of DMPs to confirm sound governance of data, to protect the privacy of consumers. In fact, DMPs allow marketers to set up different types of access to manage and govern technologies.
- Increasing reporting potential for better analytics – DMPs can generate complete user data, which along with analytical techniques, can allow marketers to fine tune their tactics and leverage the best messages.
- Improving flexibility – By attaching to as many marketing platforms as possible, DMPs allow marketers to increase their flexibility and improve results by having access to a larger data supply.
Marketing is no longer something that is done to customers, but rather something that is done with customers, and DMPs are designed to aid marketers in rallying around the customer and making them a part of the conversation. For some time now, marketers have been learning more about digital technologies and evolving accordingly to maximize the return on investment when it comes to digital marketing. DMPs are increasingly being used to ensure overall marketing success, by providing a way to maintain and conceptualize data for marketing. Although the structure of successful DMPs may change as technologies continue to shift, marketers who stay focused on strategy, data activation and the ultimately the end consumer experience will be able to stay abreast of the new platforms – and show even greater results.
Morgan Vawter is Data Management & Programmatic Marketing Lead, and Jeriad Zoghby is Managing Director and Global Lead of Personalization & Media Optimization, Accenture Interactive.