Companies that have the best data (the kind that can be made actionable) stand a better chance at beating their competitors. Why? Because a key challenge to effective marketing is scaling your efforts – and since such a wide range of tactics can be employed, great marketers rely on data to prioritize actions, discover efficiencies, and uncover new opportunities.
Getting to Know You
The need to know your audience has always been a pillar of marketing success, and for many companies, the value of collecting customer and prospect email addresses is constantly proven. But many are still unaware of what can be accomplished with an email address outside of standard (even “best practices”) email marketing.
Enter the world of contact intelligence and social data enrichment. A lot of us first saw this in action with Rapleaf’s Rapportive plug-in over two years ago.
If you use Gmail, the Rapportive plug-in typically allows you to see a picture, bio, and recent tweets associated with someone’s email address. You can also request to friend them on Facebook or connect on LinkedIn and other networks right from your Gmail account. This is very convenient, and has become a reliable means for gaining a quick reference on people with which you send and receive email.
As other companies have caught up, a new breed of solutions are continuing to emerge.
Got Full Contact?
One of the benefits of living in Boulder is access to the most thriving Techstars community on the planet. One noteworthy company in this community (and 2011 TechStars grad) is FullContact. Their CEO, Bart Lorang, recently invited me to send his company a sample of 10,000 client email addresses (one of my agency’s clients) to get a better understanding of what they offer.
In summary, 6,138 of these emails included a match with the following attributes:
In addition to the data above, FullContact provided a Klout Topic Cloud based on nearly 14 percent of this audience who had a Klout Score, along with a North American heatmap showing the general location of 46 percent of the matched audience.
Of the 29 percent who had a Twitter account, a spreadsheet helped to sort the audience by the number of people they followed on Twitter, in addition to the number following them.
You Call This Data Actionable?
In a world of influencer identification and outreach, yes. While most articles discussing these kinds of offerings focus on the features, “creepiness,” and funding of these companies (FullContact has raised more than $8 million within the last year) – how about taking a practical look at what we can do with the data?
For example, many of us recognize the value of identifying key influencers that help drive conversations relevant to our business/industry/competitors, but how many of us have identified the ones who have already subscribed to hear from us?
The general demographics alone are of value – but I can’t help thinking that many of us are failing to communicate with our most active social media customers (in social media) because they have been blindly siloed to our email marketing channels. Am I alone in this?
Finding the Right Spot
Spotting online influencers goes beyond Klout scores and Twitter followers. Another company to watch in this space is SpotRight, who like FullContact, offers an API approach to mapping data but with more of a focus on influencers.
SpotInfluence recently merged into SpotRight (pure coincidence on the names). I consulted with SpotInfluence a couple years ago as they were focusing on creating an engine to identify key influencers online – and just recently caught up with SpotRight’s CEO, Ed Messman, to address what their offering looks like today.
JC: Ed, I’ve been talking to the guys at FullContact, and thought I’d catch up with you to learn what’s happened since the merger – and how your company is now going about helping others to leverage social media?
EM: Yes, we also work with FullContact to help us get the social keys to unlock aspects of content relevant to our offering. Our focus has been more centered around addressing what we’ve heard from so many marketers: “We love access to the data, but once we get our hands on it, we don’t really know what to do with it for marketing.” We provide an additional layer to the data that better equips marketers to activate a range of campaigns.
JC: How is your offering different from Klout?
EM: Unlike Klout, SpotRight provides a greater level of control, and access to data about influencers. You also have better visibility into information about your existing customer base.
JC: What are the specifics that make up your layer of data about influencers?
EM: We look at ranking and scoring of influencers based on relevance, reach, impact, and recency. Our viewpoint is that companies spend a lot of money acquiring customers and building customer databases. Mapping this kind of data to existing customers empowers marketers to act on multiple opportunities – from advertising to loyalty program activation.
The Bigger Marketing Picture
To get another perspective, I spoke with a thought leader in an emerging area known as omni-channel marketing. His name is Brian Killen, and he is the VP of Global Product Strategy for Acxiom. The following are highlights from my conversation with him.
JC: Brian, you know about FullContact. What’s your take on the value of connecting social data to email addresses?
BK: Social media is best leveraged when it informs other marketing channels. Take Twitter, for example. We’ve seen enough data to understand that Twitter is basically ego-casting.
JC: Ego-casting? Good one. Do tell.
BK: People are tweeting about a car they want, where they are going on vacation, what they just bought. When considering the value of identifying somebody’s intent, and being able to match that intent with relevant marketing, Twitter data is more valuable than what we see in Facebook.
Matching an email address with identifiable intent via social media becomes even more valuable when you can attach a name and physical mailing address. Those are the key ingredients required for omni-channel marketing – where you can target advertising with great levels of accuracy and scale.
JC: As a practical example, you were discussing the idea of somebody tweeting about buying a Lexus. If we can match that Twitter handle to an email address, and/or do a reverse append to match the email address to a name and physical address – there is now potential to do various forms of direct marketing, including onboarding info into a cookie, mobile marketing, and much more.
What are the limitations you see in this? How far have we actually come with respect to this kind of collaborative targeting?
BK: One limitation relates to qualification. What if your Twitter user who is tweeting about wanting to buy a Lexus has a very low income, for example? There is also the issue of timing in terms of the mobilization of knowledge to drive a purchase.
In other words, we only have so much time to market to that person before they follow through on their intent to buy. If it’s a high consideration item like a car, there is more time. If it’s something like in iPad, probably far less.
We’ve come a long way, but there is far more innovation to achieve here. Even now we are running programs that tie consumer profile data into household-targeted television commercials. So you could be watching the same show as your friend, but seeing different commercials based on who you are.