In the first half of my discussion with Scott Olrich, CMO/CSO of Responsys, we talked about email and the power of this channel. As a follow up to that discussion, I wanted to share Scott’s insights on how marketers can leverage email to work with other digital channels to create a marketing culture focused more around customer relationships versus customer acquisition, and ultimately drive even more ROI.

CP: Moving beyond acquisition, if folks are overly focused on acquisition marketing today, what should they be focused on going forward?

SO: I love that question. There are two types of marketing: “acquisition first marketing” and “relationship first marketing.” Most companies are acquisition first companies and are focused on the first purchase. The relationship first company is focused on the third and fourth purchases because the lifetime value of the customer isn’t very high if he or she only buys once.

The acquisition first company generally markets based on price and pushes product. It has to sell everything itself and relies on digital to drive traffic. On the other hand, the relationship first company creates a great experience and then markets that experience. It uses digital to build relationships and to tie everything together so that in the end the brand’s customers are selling and telling the story for it.

Domino’s Pizza is a great example.  Every pizza they deliver has the pizza maker’s name, a QR code or URL on the box so consumers can rate and review the product and pizza maker. Reviews are sent to a digital billboard in Times Square, showing the customer reviews and feedback on their pizza. It is not about driving traffic or purchase but about building relationships with their customers based on available data, and creating such a great experience that customers ultimately become advocates for their brand and tell their friends and other people about them.  The best companies are not reliant on paid media because their customers are selling and telling the story for them.

I believe the biggest shift in marketing in the next 5-10 years will be from acquisition first to relationship first, where marketers will leverage the rich data from their customers to interact with them in open, meaningful and transparent ways.

CP: There is certainly no shortage of really rich data today; not only with respect to subscriber record but from a bunch of other data sources as well. I’ll throw web analytics and digital behavior into that mix. How are you helping companies or seeing companies utilize ‘big data’ and different inputs to fuel better end-client engagement?

SO: I think this is the next frontier of marketing, especially relationship marketing where companies actually know something about their customers and market to them in a known way.

 The first data source we see our customers leveraging is web behavior.  For example, if a user is browsing a site, the company can segment and version content based on that web behavior. Next it can use conversion data if it knows that a user has purchased before versus browsers who have not. Web behavior can trigger all sorts of event marketing as well, such as shopping cart abandonment programs where emails are triggered based on incomplete transactions. However, even with these programs, which most people are familiar with, there are still 30-40% of companies that are not doing it well. This applies to quote abandonment and download abandonment as well, not just e-commerce.

The next powerful tool we are looking at is how to leverage the social media cloud and tie it back to a company’s email program. Take a triggered birthday program for instance. We know that for every individual who receives a birthday email, companies make $1.50 per year; but most marketers have very limited data on birthdays. However, if marketers are tapping into the social graph, they can have that information on their customers’ birthdays and message to them accordingly. Marketers can also optimize messages based on customers’ interests, which is data that they might not have based on purchase or web behavior. The social graph can help companies better understand which competitors their customers are following and also optimize their messages not just across email, but mobile and display ads as well.  In this next frontier of marketing, I believe we will see social data being leveraged in the same way web behavior has been used over the past five years.

CP: Social is certainly hot and packed with appeal, but marketers need to make sure they are using the data properly.  With respect to social data, how can brands engage subscribers based on their opt-in preferences?

SO: Marketing is headed to a more permission-based approach; and the use of social data is coming in based on the affiliation of a social user liking a particular brand and agreeing to let the brand use some of their social data. For instance, a company offers a promotion to enter into a contest via Facebook Connect, and by doing so, consumers give the company permission to access their social graph profiles. Now that company has more information about its users based on the profile information to which it has been granted access. The company can in turn use this information to optimize its marketing messages with the consumers’ consent and drive relevant campaigns that engage consumers in the right way.  We are seeing a high percentage of consumers providing permission via Facebook Connect. As an emerging channel, marketers can apply the same principles to social that they learned from leveraging email and Web behavior.

We are also seeing social as a channel not just for brands to sell their products, but ultimately have their customers sell for them. For example, if I have friends who have purchased or ‘liked’ products from a particular brand, by leveraging the social graph, that brand can message to me accordingly.

CP: Scott, you’ve surfaced some great insights around email, big data and social.  Anything to add that we haven’t covered?

SO:  Marketers can’t forget mobile and need to understand how to truly enable their marketing for all different form factors.

Having one coded email template that auto-adjusts to screen size and OS on any given mobile device, delivers an optimal experience so consumers can perform and accomplish tasks on their phones and tablets. Websites need to optimize for mobile devices as well. Companies have a long way to go, but there is a huge opportunity for them to optimize mobile applications and use this channel to create a great experience, not just push product. And again, by doing so, customers will spread the word and promote brands based on the experience. Marketers need to be investing to market across the mobile channel – effectively mobilize the whole conversion funnel.

CP: Great point, in fact Wolverine Worldwide did just this and saw an increase in mobile revenue from 5% to 11%.