Data ethics and “Identity resolution”
Something that I only heard about quite recently myself, which I think is interesting, is called identity resolution. This is connecting the growing volume of consumer identifiers to one in individual. Something that we’ve always aspired to, isn’t it, the single view of a customer. So easy for a consultant or an outsider to say, if a customer calls you, the person in the call centre who takes that call and is speaking to the individual could immediately see on his or her screen, everything about them, everything they’ve bought, their whole relationship with you.
I’ve had many clients over the years who raise their eyebrows and say, “Yeah, okay, but you just don’t understand. Our bank is a combination of three banks. Historically, it was at least two mergers, and the databases don’t talk to each other, and we don’t have the money to integrate it. It’s more difficult than you realise.”
The problem is of course, the customer sees it the same way as I did. They just can’t understand why you don’t know that I have a loan, and a credit card, and a mortgage, and a current account with you.
There will be other companies who do that better, and they’re going to have an advantage. We can have excuses for some of these things, but the customers will vote with their feet, or their mouth.
This is called identity resolution. It basically is achieving a single view of the customer. There’s a lot of investment going on.
Technologies that resolve identities, catch duplication between different sources of data in your organisation, and unify them, so that every customer has one unique record.
The most successful digital marketing strategies rely on knowing the potential customer, what they’re interested in, what they’ve purchased, and what demographic group they belong to.
For me, this is another thing that we should be looking at right now.
Because it’s pan-organisational, the marketing department isn’t going to fix this on their own, it has to be something that the CMO takes to the board meeting and gets on the agenda and says, “Okay, we need to work with IT on this. It’s going to take up time. It may involve investment. Maybe we’re crunching two data sets within the organisation. That sounds expensive, but the alternative might be even more expensive.”
Integrating customer data
I think you’re right. I think more marketing sometimes lose the view of the customer, because most marketing activity, if we’re honest, is focused on acquisition. Once people become customers, longstanding customers, it then falls somewhere within operational process and practise, doesn’t it?
Think about that with your mobile phone company, you’ve got a problem. You ring them, you can’t get through, you go to Twitter, somebody’s replying. It’s arms and legs all working independently, aren’t they? In the very large organisations.
Yeah. This isn’t necessarily, as I say, only a marketing issue. Sometimes, one needs to involve the absolute senior management, the C-suite. I do hope that the marketing department is represented on the board, but it doesn’t always.
There is, from a customer experience perspective, you’ve got the whole marketing pre-customer bit, then you’ve got the onboarding, and then becoming a customer, and all of that experience. Then, there should be somebody focused on, these guys can become regular customers and become advocates and champions. There needs to be a strategy and some kind of plan for how you’re going to keep doing that. Of course, when things go awry.
Into your systems and all of this sort of stuff you’re talking about. Yeah. Who designs it, and who owns it, is probably a grey area.
Yeah. I think marketers should be lobbying to have control over CRM, as well as customer acquisition, because keeping your current customers happy and keeping them spending is at least as important as filling up the bucket, because if the bucket is leaking, then we’re not making any progress.
Yeah, I firmly believe that CRM should be part of marketing.
The opportunity for marketers there also is, if nobody’s doing that in your organisation, or your organisation is doing it badly, then there is the opportunity.
Absolutely. The smart marketers who spot this opportunity will be doing their company a favour. Also, I would guess, their own career, because that’s the sort of marketer that companies need.
Is it the end of the classification of “digital”
This is a more general point, Rene, and it’s about the end of digital, which has been forecasted for many years.
Just looking at Google Trends, it’s quite interesting to see the terms that are searched for. That’s what Google Trends does, of course. For a long time, we talked about internet marketing. We sometimes talked about eMarketing.
I think it would be interesting to do it with a dash, talking of punctuation, e-marketing. Then of course, for many years recently, the last few years, we’ve called it digital marketing.
You only have to look at the titles of books to work out what are the hot topics and what people want to study and to learn.
Then, there’s university qualifications. I’m involved in that world as well. Job titles within organisations, head of digital, digital marketing director, the digital department.
I don’t really think I’ve got the answer to this, but it’s certainly a current debate. What I would certainly say is that it’s all marketing. I think we have to remember that. In time, it’s possible that the digital qualifier will become irrelevant, not because digital will die off, and it turns out to be a short-term thing, but the opposite, because digital has taken over marketing.
If you look at TV today, what do I even mean by TV? If I say TV, people might take out of that different things. Could that include Netflix? That’s on the web. That’s digital. Could it include Amazon Prime? Same story. The BBC, okay, is a content producer, and they’re also a broadcaster, but how often do you watch BBC-produced content at a time to suit you? i.e. on demand. BBC iPlayer, and BBC have gone through this.
There’s very, very few things now that people will watch as it’s happening, unless you’re using internet-based platforms and communities that galvanise that.
You think about live sport, you think about The Apprentice, you think about the very large competition-based shows, Strictly, X Factor, things like that. They are things that, if you’re watching them and you’re on Twitter or Facebook at the same time, chatting about it, it can be quite an enriching experience. But the reality is, those things probably are few and far between. People are bingeing and streaming and watching recorded material, aren’t they? That’s the way of it.
What even counts as digital
Yeah. I was reading something about how people consumed Squid Game, and the large proportion of people binged the whole lot, in one go, or three episodes and then another three episodes. Individuals can choose how they consume content these days on demand, video-on-demand or VOD. That’s just one example of how it’s hard to tell what’s digital and what isn’t digital.
Travelling around the UK, I’m increasingly seeing what you might call digital billboards, and they’ve existed in Asia, I think even longer in big Asian cities. Digital outdoor, and there’s even a abbreviation for that, DOOH, meaning digital-out-of-home. I’m not even sure there’s a clear definition of it, but it means video appearing on a giant billboard.
The London Underground now has effectively mini movies playing on the escalator. Not all of them. I’m not sure what the plan is about rolling them out. There are also some cross-track video platforms.
Interestingly, obviously they can’t have sound. That has to work without any sound, which is less than TV, but actually a lot more than a static poster. Interesting times. Again, is that digital or is it offline? In the morning, McDonald’s can advertise a breakfast, in the evening, pick up your standard here at the station. Therefore, the message can change.
Other technologies, which are really interesting, include cameras, identifying the individual, and that’s got ethical implications, hasn’t it? Do you decide whether the person approaching your billboard is male or female, and show them an appropriate ad? It’s happening in China. Of course, such technology is being used by the authorities, by police forces in certain countries, to control terrorism and to spot known criminals.
All of this is suggesting to many people that actually, all marketing is going to be digital pretty soon. It’s going to be very hard to find anything that’s entirely analogue. Other people might say, “Yeah, that doesn’t matter.” If you are an organisation called the digital something, something, or if your job title has head of digital, or if you’re writing a blog called Digital Marketing, these might interesting questions.
What I would say to students at the moment, and I do, is okay, maybe people don’t separate digital in the place you’re going to work, but it’s very good for them to know that you followed a module called digital marketing, or digital analytics, because then they will know that you haven’t just learned the marketing of the 20th century.
You’re a digital person. You’re digitally enabled. You can fit into the new integrated marketing world. If I have an opinion on this, it’s not yet, the end of the D word, not yet.
Ritson on digital
Mark Ritson, who is a marketing professor and very entertaining writer, and for many years, he wrote a column in Marketing Week, whereby he stirred things up. He is here talking about the Co-op Bank disbanding its digital marketing operation. This is a flavour of the sort of stuff he writes.
“For several years, senior marketers have been wearily signalling that the need to maintain a digital marketing team separate from the rest of the marketing group was disappearing, and the merger of the digital and the marketing teams into a single unit has been happening. It’s harder to isolate exactly what isn’t digital anymore.”
As we’ve been saying.
“Too many paragraphs are being wasted on why digital media is better. Too many hours have been spent presenting the case for one medium over another, et cetera. What we need to understand is our customer, our consumers, we need to build proper brand strategy that’s fit for purpose, to blend and fuse the different tactical elements of marketing together. Let us hope the newly joined-up marketing departments of the post-digital age, are now well-set to do just that.”
To which I would agree.
He’s basically saying, it just needs to join up. What we call it is less important. Looking at the HubSpot top channel for the coming year, it’s a bit of everything.
I’ve also seen another blog, which has a totally different order. Social media, websites, email marketing, omnichannel, which just means a bit of everything, video marketing, influencers, search engine optimization, still in there, SEO, podcast marketing, and WOM, word of mouth.