A customer, according to Alex Lustberg, can be understood as a collection of digital touchpoints. A customer is a combination of behaviors, transactions, demographics, device use, web-browsing patterns, email interactions and social media presences.
All of this data on customers is available. But often it is stored in disparate databases, meaning that marketers’ ability to get a rounded picture of a given customer is limited.
Lustberg, vice president of marketing at Lyris, notes that even a few data points can yield useful findings. A marketer that knows which device a consumer uses to access email has a powerful insight, he says.
“More people are viewing email on their mobile devices than on any other,” he says. “When you know that 50% of your customers are viewing a promotional message on a mobile device, that tells you that you want to design that message for that device. And the call to action and conversion [mechanism] also has to be optimized for mobile devices.”
All this is part of what Lustberg calls the age of exploding data – or, since all these data points add up to an individual, the age of the customer. Lustberg scoffs at the idea of “the Internet age,” or “the mobile age.”
“This notion of multichannel marketing is a little bit antiquated,” he says. “Customers don’t care. They are the channel. They want a meaningful interaction or they are going somewhere else.”
Marketers that rely on partial pictures of their customers risk a best-case scenario of their targets being bemused at inappropriate offers. The worst-case scenario is that these customers will be alienated by ill-suited pitches.
“If I check into a hotel, and immediately after checking in I get an offer on my next stay, it is nice, but it doesn’t do much for me,” Lustberg says. “But if the hotel links reservation information to information about my customer behavior, maybe it can present a much more relevant offer [to my mobile device], like a promotion for the hotel spa. This makes me feel unique, and is actually relevant to my stay.”
Lyris’s solution for integrating multiple views of customers is Lyris One, a marketing automation platform designed to integrate and house customer data from across all interactions, and manage digital campaigns based on that information. The system works best when it is working off organic records – records that have been created within it. But it also has integration connectors that allow it to import data from more than 400 applications, including payment, CRM and advertising tracking systems.
The system also provides reports oriented toward revenue-focused business goals, such as sales, as opposed to what Lustberg calls vanity metrics such as email opens or social media “likes.”
It can even analyze consumer sentiment. When social media activity is linked with an existing customer account, Lyris One can look at object-oriented data such as photos and videos, as well as words in context (a new video game that is “sick” is considerably different from a restaurant that makes a consumer sick) and generate sentiment profiles.
“Big data capabilities are table stakes,” Lustberg says. “Marketers have to think about customers as channels of one. In marketing we are so hung up on having tools for different channels and teams, but that is not the way customers think. We need to change our orientation.”