Marketers talk all the time about data being a core “asset” of their organization but rarely treat it as such. This is particularly true when it comes to the time value of customer data.
When deciding how to allocate scarce resources from one project to the next, including data-related projects, it’s not only the magnitude of the outcome they should be thinking about. Factors such as time, risk, and the cost of capital are all critically important, too, in making a fully-informed decision.
Moreover, if you can identify ways to shift these factors more in your favor across an entire portfolio of projects it can unlock tremendous benefits, creating a multiplier effect across all your data, advertising, and marketing technology initiatives.
To understand and properly account for how speed-to-market impacts the success of data-driven marketing initiatives it helps to think about the payoffs in terms of three distinct time horizons: short, medium, and long term.
Horizon 1: Targeted Campaigns
Whether you’re retargeting an abandoned digital shopping cart or sending someone an upsell message, it’s widely understood that customer data that’s been sitting for too long unattended goes stale. (In fact, a distinguished direct marketer once told me the highest-yielding ROI tactic he’d ever implemented was removing dead people from his company’s mailing list!)
Conversely, while not universally true, it’s very often the case that, the sooner you’re able to act on customer data, the better.
If you’re an SMB that’s simply concerned with syncing your Mailchimp list with a Facebook account, data latency may not be much of an issue for you. However, if you’re a large enterprise marketer you likely have a lot more data sources than just Mailchimp, and a lot more channels than just Facebook. In terms of inputs, you may also want to leverage data from your mobile apps, your web site, your customer support system, your ecommerce platform, or some combination of all of the above.
In this context, the process of providing your various adtech or martech executional platforms with a targeted audience list is extremely time-consuming, at best going something like this:
- You the marketer defines a custom audience, such as, “users who have downloaded my app but never made a purchase.”
- You then ask a database engineer to translate the segment into a query.
- The engineer uses that query to pull out matching records from a data warehouse, which are saved as a flat file.
- You or your agency then uploads the file to each applicable execution platform.
The bottleneck, of course, is the dreaded engineering queue. As a marketer, your request is not always at the top of the queue, which can be days or even weeks long. Meanwhile, during the time it’s taken to pull and upload the data, some people on your list may have taken an action that would exclude them from the segment you were intending to place them into (or worse, as in the case of my direct marketer friend’s list, died!).
Of course, marketers need to be able to continually refresh their data, so that campaigns sit in the high-value-yielding section of the curve as much as possible. Out-of-date segments result in delivering messages to people who should not be targets, and missing people who should. They’re a waste of marketing dollars and an annoyance to consumers.
Using a customer data platform, you can shift your position to a higher value part of the curve, unlocking opportunities far and beyond what was ever possible with legacy methods of doing approximately the same thing.
With a tool like mParticle’s Audience Builder, rather than having to beg for a technical resource’s time, non-technical marketers can simply jump into the UI and define a segment with just a few clicks. The segments are refreshed constantly, in real-time, and kept in sync with your accounts across all your various adtech and martech partners. See the directory here for a complete list.
The time value of moving faster is easily measurable in two ways.
- First, there’s the lift you get from feeding your targeted campaigns with more recent and relevant data.
- Second, there’s the value of targeted campaigns that would never have been possible but for having a platform-based approach to audience creation.
The second point is really the key here. For example, we have some customers running 100’s of custom-audience campaigns at any given time, refreshing their memberships continuously. Just try doing that without a data platform!
What’s more, by syncing your data across adtech and martech, you’re able to join up customer experiences across the entire journey beyond any one channel. Orchestrated messaging across advertising and marketing channels has been proven yield better results than doing either one in solution. For example, according to one study commissioned by Facebook and Salesforce, a customer that coordinated its Facebook advertising with email increased reach 77% and saw a 22% increase in purchase intent for customers exposed to messages in both email and ads.
It’s also a much better from a customer experience perspective. For example, say you wanted to target abandoned shopping carts and the marketer planned to reach that segment through a combination of tactics: an Oracle-powered email, a Twitter ad, and an Appboy-powered mobile push notification. If the first-touch is successful, then the second and third will be a waste…and a nuisance. With one unified “madtech” data platform you can instruct every applicable system, in real-time, to stop messaging people as soon as they exit the segment, all without needing to have a pal in engineering constantly pulling and updating customer lists across systems.
Horizon 2: SaaS Vendor Onboarding
Most marketing IT projects suck up time in the short-run with the promise of generating gains in the mid-to-long run. This is particularly true in the mobile space, where many vendors require access to your company’s “first-party” data and creating those connections requires significant engineering time (particularly if you want multi-screen and cross-OS compatibility) as well as an an app update pushed onto end user’s devices.
Layer on top of all that the fact that your internal teams capable of performing these tasks have competing priorities and you could be talking a months-long effort just to get a new SDK up and running.
What if you could accelerate a two-month deployment cycle down to less than day?
We know that the services provided by many of the myriad of SDKs in the Periodic Table can and do create significant value once implemented, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many of them in existence.
As a rule of thumb, let’s say one of these services generates $2M in new profit contribution for your brand in year one and you could accelerate deployment by two months. The time value of that is $333K.
If you’re deploying multiple new SaaS tools in a given year, as most companies are, this can really add up!
Horizon 3: Speed to Market Leadership
The third horizon to consider when thinking about the time value of data is the time that it takes for your business to establish its market leadership.
We know that profits in a given space are not proportional to marketshare; they are highly skewed in favor of market leaders. This is especially true with digital businesses that have any sort of network effect (which many do). And it’s particularly true of mobile businesses. Just think about it, how many ride sharing apps are you going to download? The first ridesharing app that you start using with any frequency has a high likelihood of being the last one.
What’s the number one challenge impeding mobile-first businesses from succeeding? Marketing.
What’s the number one marketing challenge? We asked marketers at 100+ of the leading mobile-first brands and found that almost three quarters (72%) of them said their biggest challenges were related to “lacking engineering resources” or “team members” or both.
If technology automation can eliminate these barriers, and propel your business to that position of market leadership faster, it could make all the difference.
What’s the time value of accelerating speed to market leadership? Think of it this way, in markets where there’s room for only one or two leaders, which would characterize most, have you invested 10, 20, 100 million dollars in your mobile business? If you’re not moving as fast as you need to seize that leadership spot then you might as well be throwing it down the drain.
CMO’s have no shortage of investment options – from hiring agencies and consultants, to buying research, to running media, to simply outsourcing everything and paying vendors on a cost-per-KPI basis.
SaaS tools can create an incredible amount of value when implemented properly, but getting that right takes more than simply paying a license fee, it takes time. And, as the saying goes, time is money. That’s why a customer data platform that can speed up routine tasks, like creating custom audience lists and syncing them across adtech and martech executional tools, as well as accelerate speed-to-market when launching new initiatives, is an essential layer in any marketer’s technology stack.