customer data

How to Get the Right Data to the Right People On-time

Vast amounts of customer data have provided marketers with an opportunity to understand consumers like never before. But the complexity of data management makes dealing with huge data sources a difficult job and this trickle-down complexity impacts marketers directly.

It seems that every year that goes by, the marketer’s job gets harder as more complexity gets pushed into their daily job. Let’s just say it: A marketer should not need to be an uber-technologist to be effective. Likewise, the first call a marketer makes to activate an audience should not be a support desk or a SQL developer. It is time for a reset. 

Consider this use case: a marketer gets budget to activate a new target audience for a new product offering. One of the first steps might be to understand who their current customers are and who has bought things like this before, meaning some third-party data and consulting is required. After a few weeks of back and forth on defining an audience, a small test campaign is launched. But we’re left wondering – how many people were required to do what should be a simple exercise? How much internal and external cost was accrued? How many platforms were used? And how long did it take to discover whether the test was a success? We need to change the industry mindset and have the expectation that this use case is actually simple, i.e., delivered in one day, by only one person, using one platform, and not a single line of code is written to achieve it. Period. 

Allant’s Audience Management Platform+ (AMP+) is a marketer-first user experience which unifies data from anywhere providing accelerated data ingestion, transformation, identity harmonization, visualization, discovery, reporting and fulfilment – all natively built to accelerate the activation of a brand’s current and future customers, in the channels of its choice. We recently sat down with Keith Scheer, SVP of Product & Innovation to learn more about this game-changing technology.

We often hear marketers know the value of data but are frustrated by the inefficiencies of their martech. They can’t make the most of what the data has to offer. What do you think the issue is?

Keith: If we think back about ten years ago in the martech space, the big players in the industry were looking to solve a technology problem of channel data being siloed. Their solution was to bolt-on data management offerings, later coined CDPs; but at their core, data activation only worked well for whatever application was the technology base of the solution. If primarily an email technology was at the core, this was adequate for email. Some level of cross channel understanding could be gleaned from the other channel integrated data. However, if you wanted to really understand something complicated, influenced by consumer level profiles using cross channel attribution, or known and unknown consumer intent, things broke down quite rapidly. This was especially true once customer data volumes grew – that is unless you were willing to pay for a load of services to make a little bit more of the CDP vision real for your brand. But you still could not easily activate in other channels.

To maintain their superiority in breadth of offering, these big players in martech continued to cobble together existing tools and perform new acquisitions so everything can be integrated into a one-stop shop for all your marketing needs. There was a big focus on making the user interfaces consistent and seamless looking; but under the covers it was all a mess due to the lack of a cohesive data design. It should have been purpose built to efficiently and rapidly provide the tools to understand and act in the same motion, without SQL code getting in the way…I’m getting ahead of myself… 

Even today, applications which have been in the same marketing cloud family for years, do not integrate well. When you want to learn about your customer’s behavior doing cross-channel analytics, you better not go off the predefined data points because you had a better idea than the current data supports. These tools just cannot meet the requirements of a marketer who wants to understand “why” and right now. I have routinely heard from marketers, “I know the answer is in the data, I just can’t get to it.”

Over the last decade, this constraint has cropped up in conversations, time and time again, from companies using these big industry players. Brands are paying millions of dollars to use these platforms to manage their customer data, without even knowing what they are missing. Do marketers assume this is how life is supposed to be? Being constrained at every turn by technology, and complexity? 

I don’t think any marketer should accept that. Marketers who can identify with this pain may think there simply isn’t a better solution out there – until now that is!

So what makes an audience orchestration solution like Audience Management Platform+ (AMP+) a game-changer?

Keith: Well, to start, AMP+ puts the focus on making the data work for the marketer. It gives marketers themselves the ability to analyze, understand, and act on their data quickly and easily. Let me emphasize the words understand, act, quickly and easily!

Customer data is powerful and an invaluable resource for any organization. But it always needs to be wrangled and transformed before it can be analyzed and driven into action. There is a strong correlation between the quality of your data going into a marketing campaign, and the quality of the performance results coming out! Consistent and common processing of that data across all channels and sources may provide an advantage over the competition, which may be lacking this capability.

AMP+ is a single technology platform, purpose built and channel agnostic, to provide a truly seamless end-to-end audience management experience. With unified data ingestion, transformation, identity harmonization, visualization, discovery, reporting and fulfillment, data silos become a thing of the past. It can connect with all channel-specific delivery providers – for example, whichever email provider you use.

A typical customer data flow might be cleaning, hygiene, identity harmonization, integration of numerous behavioral data sources, which lands on the desktop of the marketer each day in the form of a powerful drag and drop user experience. Perhaps the marketer wants to apply a model created by their data science team. Bring it on. Perhaps the marketer has some late breaking interaction or response data it would like to incorporate in this campaign about ready to be sent. No problem. Perhaps a marketer wants to profile each channel’s best audiences against 1.5 billion consumer records. A piece of cake. The answers are counted in milliseconds and no code is required. And icing on that cake – it keys your data, which acts like connective tissue to link your customer insights with prospect universes for targeting and execution.  

Essentially, AMP+ gives marketers the tools to understand and activate ALL their data, no matter where it comes from.

As the product lead, are there any features you’re particularly proud of?

Keith: There are so many brilliant features that are designed to support analysts and business users to make their lives easier. 

The feature that springs to mind is how AMP+ remembers every path you’ve taken through your data workflow or discovery process by recording it into an action history. It will record every step, end-to-end. This enables you in the future to go back and rediscover every exact step you took to gain the insights. Then, with a click of a button you can recreate the data, build the transformations, filters, reports and dashboards immediately – all without writing one line of code.

Speed is a big differentiator. There is an obvious advantage to being able to understand your audiences interactively, which means your compute power must be able to keep up with how fast you can think of your next question. 

This is another area where innovation breaks from what the major cloud vendors do to get speed. These cloud vendors generate more than half of their revenue by selling compute (speed). So, I do not think they are very motivated to produce more efficient software. You want more performance? Sure, they are more than happy to sell you more compute. We think that is baloney.

The last few years have shown that to be successful, businesses need to be more flexible and agile in their marketing than ever before. How does Allant’s solution help with this?

Keith: Businesses absolutely need to be increasingly agile and quick to react to audience behavior changes. The typical setup within many organizations is slow and cumbersome. Here’s a scenario I hear all the time: 

A marketer has an idea about an audience they want to promote. They head over to their IT group, which controls the data in the data lake, to run a query. The developers help them write the query and send it in. The query might happen fast enough, but the marketer had to get an education in SQL or wait on a developer for up to a week to get the result. And when the marketer gets the results, they realize that it was flawed. They need to filter out some additional element which is proven not to perform well.  Now, they have to go back to the developer and do that same process all over again. It could take another week! By this time, the marketer is losing heart and just goes with what they used last time, because they cannot get the understanding they need fast enough. Very sad.

We empower the marketer, the data analyst, and the campaign manager. We’ve given them the levers and dials to understand their customer data with nobody being in their critical path. They can produce the insights on their data, needing minimal assistance. 

This speed and agility will revolutionize how marketing teams can use their data and respond to their audience’s changing requirements and demands.

Lastly, when it comes to data privacy, how do you guarantee the security of the customer data?

Keith: We take regulation compliance around data privacy very seriously. The M of AMP+ stands for ‘management’. A large part of managing data is making sure it is in complete compliance with relevant regulations around GDPR, CCPA, and a full docket of additional state’s data privacy laws getting passed through their legislatures right now as we speak. 

Allant has been SOC 2 certified for a very long time. When we process data, all PII data gets walled off and encrypted. The keying technique used by Allant maintains an association with the PII data, but all active applications, including AMP+, operate without hinderance when lacking PII data in the system. Hence, we are able to achieve identity resolution without breaking privacy regulations, keeping customer data security intact. 

Many very large brands entrust Allant with their data because of the rigor and the proof we provide about data security. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Allant or AMP+ please contact them here.  

Photo by Mauro Gigli on Unsplash

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