When I was asked write a post on how to use marketing optimisation technology it raised a few questions with me:

  1. What is marketing optimisation?
  2. What are people doing today?
  3. How can technology help?
  4. What are the potential barriers to leveraging that technology?


What is marketing optimisation?

We’re all familiar with “right offer, right time”; it’s the marketing phrase that was drummed into me when I first started out (twenty and a bit years ago). The difference today is the scale of marketing messages and channels that our target audiences are exposed to and interact with. We are constantly fighting for a share of their wallet, whilst also fighting to ensure our marketing budgets are being used in the best way.

We do this by:

  • Developing a multitude of different strategies and approaches for each of our campaigns.
  • Implementing contact clash and fatigue rules, to ensure we don’t over market.
  • Investing heavily in subject line testing and design to ensure our messages are opened.
  • Creating compelling and relevant offers for each of our campaigns
  • Creating multiple target cells so that we can analyse what worked and what didn’t
  • Targeting those most likely to convert with rich and relevant content to drive response rates
  • Capping volumes to keep costs down
  • Incorporating propensity scores into campaigns to cherry pick the best people to send the offers to.

All of this contributes to optimal marketing, but often it misses one major component, putting it all into practice at the same time, across all of our touch points and all of our customer engagements, to make sure we maximise response whilst minimising spend. Marketing optimisation applies this logic and capability across all campaigns at the same time.


What are people doing today?

There are two common manual approaches used to get closer to the marketing optimisation goal:

  • Campaign first come, first served – campaigns are executed and selections reduced based on who executes their campaign selections first
  • Offer Prioritisation – campaigns are all executed but outputs are pushed to a staging table. The offers in each campaign are ranked or prioritised to enable multiple offers to be pushed per campaign.

Both of these approaches do give the marketer a level of control over which customers or offers are selected, but they are prioritisation methods solving the “fill problem”, not optimisation (i.e. solving the “best offer problem”).

Prioritisation is also typically product-focused rather than customer focused.


How can technology help?

Technology such as IBM’s Contact Optimization module demonstrates how technology can be used to create and develop the processes needed to move towards a more optimised customer communication strategy.

Contact lists and campaign outputs are pushed into the optimisation technology, alongside supporting scores, rules and constraints. An optimisation algorithm then applies all the rules across the data at the same time to identify the best blend of all these targeted lists, offers, scores, business rules and constraints to determine the best average score for all the qualifying campaigns. When it’s complete, you have a refined list of contacts and offer associations per campaign, and are ready to generate final outputs.


In summary

Marketing optimisation technology can give marketing organisations the ability to create a highly targeted, highly relevant, highly efficient marketing communication strategy across campaigns. It enables us to manipulate all the levers of our customer engagements to find the right way to maximise our marketing effectiveness, without breaking the bank.

We also have to remember that it is not a magic bullet; it requires a co-ordinated and willing business drive to change. Done right, it has the potential to deliver real and measurable business and commercial benefit

The mantra should be “right offer, right time, right campaign, right people, right channel” – but that really doesn’t trip off the tongue!

Written by Andrew Addison


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