It seems pointless to ask whether data is useful, and an almost insoluble problem to answer how it is useful. Big Data, small data, efficient data, actionable data…so many words exist to describe the approaches to deepening our understanding of customers.
How customers behave, how they engage, why they click (or for that matter not click; which might be more important), why they interact or otherwise, when they leave, how and when they are interested, etc can all be of critical importance. However, the 2015 Digital Trends Report informs us that only 14% of organisations view Big Data as an exciting opportunity in 5 years’ time.
So, data is no longer a buzzword. And if “Big Data” seems still to be one (and will be as long as we use capital letters for B & D ;-), this is changing thanks to concrete projects and the emergence of real business cases.
But, alongside big data (lowercase…), another expression emerged — Data Management Platform (or DMP). Having first appeared in 2009, DMPs are the technical answer to a simple question: as a brand, how can I manage the entire customer data accumulated from my own campaigns (online, mobile, TV, etc.), but also from second and third parties? And then, how can I utilise it to effectively segment my audience, in order to deliver the most appropriate message that will drive conversion or reduce churn?
Currently, under two-fifths (37%) of companies have a good infrastructure in place to collect the data they need, as indicated by the 2015 Digital Trends Report.
A DMP, much more than a media tool
Generally, DMP is used in a media context, to improve the efficiency of the media spend and increase ROI. And, with the growth of Real Time Bidding (RTB) for media, it seems the perfect tool to mix the automation of the buying process with the efficiency of audience segmentation. By deepening their knowledge about their customers, brands are able to create and deliver personalized ads based on those segments.
But (there is always a “but”…), if segmentation is key, display might not be the best way to create rich interactions with customers and prospects. If DMPs are still mostly used by the media industry, it’s because they were the first to see the concept, alongside this raise of RTB, as a fantastic way to optimise their media buying strategies. And DMPs were also viewed as a way to maintain the belief in advertisement.
However, DMPs are able to do much more than that. As a man who worked for years in media and for a digital agency, I strongly believe that brands must focus on optimising the customer experience. In order to do so, personalisation is key. Indeed, the more you succeed in creating intimacy between you and your audience, the more you personalise the relationship, and the more likely it will be for this audience to engage with your brand, to stay loyal, and to buy your products. And the best place to do so (because it’s the only place you really own) is the brand’s own website or mobile app.
Let’s use an analogy — if you want to sell your house, you will obviously need the best ad possible in order to attract customers. So you write some good copy, take nice pictures of your house, and publish the ad in newspapers, real estate websites, or you might even stick it on trees. But if your home does not look its best in the pictures, with a great interior, a beautiful kitchen, an inviting garden, and, above all, a description that appeals to the needs of potential buyers (highlighting the tranquillity, the amenities, the neighbourhood, the public transport or the schools, depending on who are the potential buyers), you will not sell it. You will have generated leads but no conversion (and, here, one conversion is all you need!).
It is all about the experience, when looking around the house, along with a messaging drafted to appeal to the buyer’s needs, which will make the difference.
A ground breaking opportunity
This is where a DMP can help you in the digital world. A DMP will allow the brand to segment its visitors and audience based on their needs and, using that segmentation, to personalise their digital experience, optimise traffic, and drive them towards content or offers which match their needs and present a compelling call-to-action.
For brands, this should be an obvious decision; when it is possible, as some of our clients have, to gain an average uplift of 40%, raise revenue per visit by 23% or increase subscriptions with targeted cross-promotions, why would you hesitate? Why would you not personalise the relationship with your audience immediately?
DMPs offer huge opportunities for agencies, as they provide them with the ability to define and continuously refine strategy using real data; real segments based on real customer needs. Using an audience and Data Management Platform allows agencies to continuously transform and improve the brand’s digital properties, while avoiding the need to wait for a relaunch in order to implement improvements. Effectively this becomes a permanently evolving entity, a never-ending beta version.
So, brands, you know what you have to do, transform the way that you behave, the way that you work, and ultimately the way that you define and deploy your digital strategy. Think in terms of audience rather than in terms of branding, and really focus on the customer and on what (s)he wants. Aggregate all available data, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd party, and improve what you know and understand why you know it.
Because with personalisation and DMP, the RONI (Risk Of Non-Investment) is the worst enemy of your ROI.
What about you…do you agree that DMPs represent an amazing opportunity? Do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments!