Nuts & Bolts - Case Study: Cisco Analyzes Its Human Network
Challenge: Increase contact data efficiency.
Solution: Implement new data analysis tools and tactics to acquire, reactivate and enrich contact information.
Results: Raised the quality and quantity of analyzed data; increased by 30 times the speed of customer data analysis, including query and segmentation functions; improved prospect targeting, thereby improving campaign results; and provided contact-level insights during initial campaign planning, elevating customer engagement.
In a way, the television commercials with actress Ellen Page traveling around the Nova Scotian town of Lunenburg to meet people impacted by Cisco technology mirror how the Web networking provider itself is getting to know its customers by improving its contact-level intelligence and analytics speed.
In other words, "The Human Network" can now find better data faster, down to individual contacts—otherwise known as humans.
Before installing the database analytics tools purchased from UK-based marketing software provider Alterian in June 2009, what the San Jose-based company knew about the humans in its network mostly came through reliable data on their companies—with a fuzzier picture of the individuals themselves.
"Cisco data is already clean and has common matchkeys, but is often on separate systems that are not suitable for analytics," says Mike Bull, Cisco's senior manager of worldwide database marketing. "The data was imported [into the Alterian tools] within a few days and tables joined very quickly. We were up and running within a couple of weeks."
This greatly improved not only usability for Cisco employees, but the databases' efficiencies, as well.
Because resellers are at the heart of Cisco's sales, the company often lacked prospect and customer information at the outset of a campaign. Cisco could find much of the information on its customers through leveraging its operational contact data warehouse, but whether campaigns would have enough data on marketable prospects was often verified toward the end of the process.
More specifically, Bull explains: "Historically, the campaign process was: 1) planning—identify target companies with an assumption we had contacts for all; 2) develop—commit to [an] activity and spend money to develop [it]; [and] 3) execution—it wasn't until this phase where the first view of contacts was made, and far too often we found there were insufficient numbers. Targeting criteria was widened to meet volume needs, which meant not enough money had been assigned for contact acquisition purposes.
"In the new world, [the tools help] in the planning phase to size the contact baselines and gaps. This ensures in the development phase that monies are assigned for contact acquisition/reactivation/enrichment purposes. Therefore, at the execution phase, all activity has sufficient contact numbers available."
Bull says these efficiencies save Cisco a lot of money. Plus, they help generate additional business.
Cisco can now focus on growing the contact database with the companies and contacts it has the best opportunity to convert. Campaigns can be appropriately sized, or not even created if the numbers don't work.
A reactivation test email campaign showed the strengths of Cisco's new analytics capabilities. Targeting emails to 145,000 dormant contacts with three versions of incentives, Cisco asked them for up-to-date contact information and to opt-in to future campaigns. The 2.3 percent response rate was eight times higher than Cisco expected, and the best performing email saw a 6.1 percent response rate.
So, like Page's experiences in Nova Scotia, Cisco's travels in the world of analytics can lead them to a clearer view of the humans in its network.