Gain the Advantage


Special Section: Digital Marketing

Gain the Advantage

Digital intelligence takes marketing to a whole new level.

Most organizations rely on analytics to support marketing programs and to gain a better understanding of consumer behavior. But as interactive communication channels become more complex—and increasingly fundamental to business success—traditional analytics tools are failing to provide the full spectrum of support and insight necessary to reach marketing and sales goals.

Keep a Customer Focus

Digital intelligence enables a full spectrum of data analysis techniques to support decision making in today’s demanding business environment. The digital approach marks the next stage in the analytics evolution, building on companies’ hard-won experiences and capabilities while putting them into position to succeed in the future.

Information and insights about specific customers’ behavior are needed to effectively engage and market to them. “Enterprises that aspire to deliver superior customer experiences must be on the forefront of interpreting and understanding customer interactions across all channels–especially social media,” says John Lovett, a Senior Partner at Web Analytics Demystified, in his white paper “Beyond Surface-Level Social Media.”

Lovett adds, “This requires a convergence of data, analytics and business applications. While it may take some organizations several years to get here, leading enterprises are building foundations for these intimate and real-time interactions with customers and organizing their analytical assets to take action upon what they learn today.”

To fully leverage the potential benefits of digital intelligence, the challenges presented by new types of data generated from Web shopping sites, social media and other evolving platforms must first be addressed. Focusing on data instead of customers is a pitfall best avoided by making a commitment to listen to customers and prospects. This requires reaching out and engaging customers through digital channels.

The growth of online commerce and increasingly sophisticated data collection methods are providing an ever-growing mountain of data about customers. Gleaning business value from this massive information takes specialized analytics tools.

Tools that don’t keep up with customer behavior fail to meet organizations’ needs. Digital data has changed shape, thus changing the challenge of harnessing it for insight, which is why companies need a solution that can manage multi- and unstructured data.

Embrace Digital Intelligence

Making a commitment to digital intelligence requires moving beyond simply monitoring and collecting data to supplementing raw numbers with proactive research and engagement. Understanding the demands of an evolving macro-marketing environment also requires thinking—and doing business—differently.

Digital intelligence allows insights collected from separate sources to be combined to benefit the organization as a whole. Lovett uses an example from the hospitality industry, where customer service is critically important, to illustrate how all available data helps decode customer sentiment and behavior:

One major hospitality company was challenged to access, analyze and integrate more than 1 million customer interactions across email, the Web, social media and online sources into a single data warehouse to increase customer satisfaction and deepen loyalty. Using a real-time data processing and analysis tool, the company was able to quickly analyze and understand the key topics that influenced its “detractors” and “promoters.” It was also able to integrate records from blogs, Web forums and other sources to optimize customer segments and profiles to identify important issues that affect customer satisfaction. This data was parsed out to employees and partners via scorecards with the goal of improving customer relationships.

The result was the ability to rapidly and efficiently analyze the “voice of the customer” and, therefore, more effectively automate certain actions. For instance, the analysis revealed early-warning signs of customer attrition and provided a means to execute direct interaction with customers to address concerns and improve satisfaction.

Integrate Analytics into the Business

Digital intelligence goes beyond expanded data collection and reporting. “Digital intelligence ultimately breaks down the wall between analytics and the business, eliminating passive insight delivery to make digital data directly actionable,” according to the Forrester Research, Inc., report “Welcome To The Era Of Digital Intelligence.”

As a new analytics standard, digital intelligence closes the gap between analysis and action to seamlessly optimize digital customer experiences. Forrester says the depth of data, organizational and process integration enabled by digital intelligence offers many opportunities:

  • A level playing field for marketers. Success used to depend on an organization’s ability to deliver cohesive, relevant customer experiences. Now, any company that leverages digital analytics and uses it to improve the business can create sustainable competitive advantages.
  • An open field for technology providers. Web analytics vendors are in position to lead the digital intelligence solution market. A new company or class of technology could redefine the category.
  • An opportunity to pull service providers out of their silos. A broad range of service providers have the ability to expand from their traditional footprint to operate in the digital intelligence market.

A New World of Analytics

Traditional analytic approaches are ineffective against the tsunami of information created by a rapidly multiplying number of data-rich channels. The challenges posed by new data types flowing from online shopping sites, social media and other platforms require a complete re-imagining of the analytics framework.

In “Welcome to the Era of Digital Intelli-gence,” Forrester identified six “layers” of digital intelligence:

  • Digital data inputs: incorporating data from all digital marketing touchpoints
  • Business data inputs: putting digital marketing data into context with data from the business
  • Data processing: collecting, integrating, and managing data with a high degree of speed and granularity
  • Data warehouses: storing digital data to make it available for analysis and execution
  • Analysis: conducting a range of analytics activities, from dashboards and reports to data mining and forecasting
  • Action: making analytical data and insights directly available to the applications that drive interactions

Web analytics and the corporate website are arguably more important than ever, Forrester notes, but they are only a part of a much larger digital world. Consequently, those components need to be given equal footing. Digital intelligence is a framework that covers the breadth, analysis and delivery of data and insights to support decision making in the complex digital environment.

A business that ignores or neglects any of these infrastructure elements runs the risk of failing to fully leverage the benefits of digital intelligence, including the ability to deliver cohesive and relevant customer experiences and create sustainable competitive advantages within its markets.

What Does it All Mean?

Digital intelligence and customer data analytics have the potential to boost marketing results by providing the information needed to reach consumers through the proper channels to make a sale, stop churn or achieve another desired result.

“Digital intelligence must be deeply embedded in the business rather than an isolated function, raising important questions about functional ownership,” according to Forrester. A customer intelligence command center, with strong support from business technology and a great deal of input from the business, can own the information and manage its use across business units.

Delivering digital intelligence requires breaking away from historical biases and developing a holistic plan. To that end, Forrester recommends an approach that combines technologies to collect, process, store, analyze and distribute digital data to optimize its use.

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