Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Data + Digital + CRM = 1

The mathematically incorrect but meaningful equation of 1 + 1 = 3 symbolizes the synergistic added value by combining two elements; the adding of two elements produces something more than the value of the elements by itself. In the case that I want to discuss, I am pleading for a very different equation: 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. This equation of adding three different elements creates an uniquely simple and powerful “1”; the addition leads to a lesser that is more powerful. Why? Most marketers are trying to build three distinct practice areas: Data, Digital, and CRM whereas in reality we are witnessing a convergence of these three discipline into one less and less distinguishable form of marketing.

What’s happening? A couple of things:
  • The correct and actionable real time analysis of data leads into a digital expression towards a consumer. Best example is “Search”. Is Search a Digital or a Data practice? It’s both! The mathematical analysis of intention (= search term) leads to the most meaningful digital answer (= search results).
  • The best digital marketing programs create an ongoing consumer centric and relevant digital content expression that leads to a positive relationship between digital content provider and consumer. Best example is Amazon’s consumer reviews and recommendations, or Netflix’ movie ratings for subscribers.
  • Any successfully established and ongoing relationship between Consumer and Brand leads to more captured data and deeper insights into consumers.

The right convergence of data, digital, and CRM creates a self-feeding mechanism that gets smarter and smarter with every new cycle. That’s why I use the equation of 1 + 1 +1 = 1 as the right convergence model. We probably still need experts in one of the three practice areas but a too rigid distinction will rather hinder a fully integrated design of consumer experience. The conscious merging of these practices will enable marketing services firms to keep a significant part of big brand’s marketing budgets. As Bob Garfield’s writes in this week’s AdAge: “In order to exploit the internet’s phenomenal capacity for targeting and optimizing messages in ads and on websites, advertisers have to invest vast resources in information-technology infrastructure to crunch the vast amount of data that will be pouring in every second of every day.”

The functional gaps between information analysis, creative expression, and relationship building will disappear further. There will be a lot of financial rewards for marketers who are figuring out how to make it happen. Sometimes the addition of different elements to create a lesser “1” is more difficult, but also more powerful than most marketers assume.


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