Where Is the Data Movement Going?
First, the computer (in this case, representing marketers) identified the target individual. Identification of an individual is the most essential step toward personalization. But even with an ample amount of collected data, including personal trails, most marketers do not even try it. By the way, email addresses and cookies do not represent an individual. I am talking about a consistent key that enables mapping of a complete customer’s journey, not some clicks here and there.
Secondly, the computer retrieved the target individual’s past browsing and purchase history in real-time. Such fast retrieval and application means that collected data are properly categorized and tagged around individuals for the purpose of personalization, which must be differentiated from categorization for product taxonomy for inventory management or simple Web display.
Then the machine runs through a product recommendation algorithm in real-time, using behavioral, transitional and environmental data it collected about that individual. The final step of this 1-to-1 marketing is delivering the message to the target individual at the right moment through the right channel (in this case, in the person’s face). And in this futuristic movie, all this happens within a few seconds. Impressive? Well, not really.
Granted that the computers of the future will be far more advanced — more advanced than today’s computers are in comparison to the mainframes of the 1960s. Still, it is not that impressive, because these are the same steps that any decent data player and analyst have been following since our predecessors first applied data mining techniques to target marketing. It just took much longer — six months or more, at times — to do all this. But is it all that surprising that one day, a computer will be able to finish these tasks in a second? Is it a big deal that it is showing sweaters in different colors as the new season is around, anyway?
Stephen H. Yu is a world-class database marketer. He has a proven track record in comprehensive strategic planning and tactical execution, effectively bridging the gap between the marketing and technology world with a balanced view obtained from more than 30 years of experience in best practices of database marketing. Currently, Yu is president and chief consultant at Willow Data Strategy. Previously, he was the head of analytics and insights at eClerx, and VP, Data Strategy & Analytics at Infogroup. Prior to that, Yu was the founding CTO of I-Behavior Inc., which pioneered the use of SKU-level behavioral data. “As a long-time data player with plenty of battle experiences, I would like to share my thoughts and knowledge that I obtained from being a bridge person between the marketing world and the technology world. In the end, data and analytics are just tools for decision-makers; let’s think about what we should be (or shouldn’t be) doing with them first. And the tools must be wielded properly to meet the goals, so let me share some useful tricks in database design, data refinement process and analytics.” Reach him at email@example.com.