My old friend David Raab just published a new white paper The Customer Data Platform: A new foundation for customer management (download for free with registration from ReachForce).
In this paper David reiterates the power of marketing automation with some great stats on how much better companies that apply marketing automation perform when it comes to standard marketing metrics. However there remains a challenge of coordinating different channels and the paper describes the role of a customer data platform to pull all the interaction data together, find customers across all of these channels (matching an email customer to a CRM record and to a web session for instance) and make that data available. He specifically identifies the importance of predictive analytic modeling and of decision management to drive next best action or next best activity decision-making.
As I said in Marketing Decision Management: Critical Elements in a Solution you must be able to build customer dialogues over time and across channels, moving customers along journeys that increase their value. Each interaction, each decision, matters but it must be possible to string these together as a set. This of course means that the information you have about your customers (and prospects) in these different channels must be integrated so it can be accessed and used to drive coherent analytics. David’s identification of a Customer Data Platform for this purpose is a very valid point.
A couple of other points of note:
- Make sure that the decision-making you perform becomes part of your customer data. Knowing WHY you treated a customer a certain way can be very important when you come to analyze effectiveness, devise new campaigns or update analytic models. If you are building your own Marketing Decision Management System then you should have a Business Rules Management System at the heart of it and this wil let you log every rule fired and decision made. If you are buying a solution then make sure it lets you access this kind of information alongside the rest of your customer data.
- With decision-making spread across a central decision management component and various channel specific marketing solutions and with the need to share some decision-making between the marketing solutions and other systems (eligibility for a product, for instance, matters in marketing solutions but is not owned by marketing), there is great value to having a decision-making “map” that shows how all these pieces fit together. The use of decision requirements modeling and of a tool like DecisionsFirst Modeler can really help in this regard as it gives you a logical model of your decision-making that can be mapped to multiple implementation environments to provide traceability and management.
The paper is definitely worth a read and if you are interested in the whole idea of next best action, why not check out this paper also – Managing the next best activity decision.