Companies can spend millions on ads, SEO, search, content marketing, social and so on, but never maximize those dollars because they lack a good way of stringing together data about the interactions that result from that investment.
With no singular picture into each customer's cross-channel journey, brands don't have the power to make real-time business decisions that allow them to tailor offers and content to individual customer preferences.
This unified reporting is the future of customer relationship management (CRM), which is why many marketing agencies and major brands want better technology to support it, according to Tash Whitmey, CEO of Havas EHS, a creative agency subsidiary of Havas.
"We've seen this modernization and growing up of CRM," she said. "Years ago, it was OK to talk at them about the brand, but that is not good enough anymore. The world has moved on. Consumer expectations have moved on."
Havas EHS has been working on a cloud-based, data-driven technology platform for well over a year that it says will offer the backbone for helping its customers modernize their consumer engagement efforts. Called FULCRM, the system is built around a data collection and analysis engine created by technology firm Provenir.
With its roots in the fraud-prevention market for financial services firms, Provenir has shifted gears in the past year to diversify into the digital marketing arena.
"They may already be doing ad-buying work and building websites with these clients and maybe building loyalty programs for them, and we're allowing them to take that to the next level, where they actually engage with the customer over a longer life cycle," said Mark Smith, president of Provenir's customer listening division, which focuses on digital marketing.
As he explains, his company's technology helps listen for data across the Web, social, transaction systems at point of sale and mobile activity. From there it collates the data, puts it into relational databases and analyzes it to provide the means for the agencies and their customers to make better decisions.
"We'll listen to all that range of activity, even from when they were anonymous, link that into the rest of that customer record, pull all that data together and then do a decisioning phase," Smith said. "We can pull data from all sorts of different systems within an organization and from outside an organization to help it decide what it should do.
After a year of proof-of-concept work and pilot projects, last week Havas and Provenir launched FULCRM. According to Whitmey, Havas EHS chose to look outside the agency for the technology so it could focus on its core competency.
"We have moved away from this idea we have to build everything ourselves," she said. "It became clear to us that while our CRM technology is very good, we're a communications organization."
In the pilot phase, Havas designed and implemented a loyalty program for a large retail brand in the UK using FULCRM. Moving away from card-based, "buy 10, get one free"-type programs, the retailer implemented a mobile-centric initiative that enabled it to deliver messages directly to the mobile device at the point of purchase. The retailer could tailor real-time promotions and recommendations for additional purchases to consumers based on a range of behavior.
The program allows the retailer to know when a customer is in one of its stores and to correlate that customer's social history with his or her purchase history so that it can offer the most relevant specials when the customer is likely to buy.
"We'll have a core data set but it allows us to use contextual data to build a better picture of that person so we can be much more relevant to them in the moment," Whitmey said.
This was done without the need for infrastructure upgrades or "internal plumbing" on the part of the retailer. Using Provenir's technology, FULCRM was able to use existing connections into POS and other relevant data feeds to get the data it needed to do the analysis. As a result, from scoping to final deployment it only took Havas 12 weeks to go live with the solution.
And the results were nearly immediate -- the retailer reported that within two weeks of deployment it had already made incremental revenue improvements to offset the costs related to putting the program into place.