When Brooks embarked on an initiative to organize its data last year, it was ready to sprint. But a year into the project, the running shoe brand was still nowhere near the finish line.
“It was just going so slowly,” said Mark McKelvey, the company’s VP of information technology.
Granted, Brooks had a lot of data sitting in silos: ecommerce data, mobile app data, email, social data, web analytics data, shipping data and sales data from retail partners.
“What we want to do is gather all this data about our touchpoints together and aggregate it centrally so we can understand our runners better and deliver more relevant experiences,” McKelvey said.
And so Brooks made a tough choice – to cut ties with the enterprise software solution it had already spent quite a lot of time and money on in favor of Amperity, a customer data platform startup which only just came out of stealth last year. Brooks declined to share the name of its former partner.
Amperity, whose customers include Gap, Starbucks, Nordstrom and TGI Fridays, uses machine learning to match customer records across data sources and then propagates that information downstream to other tools, like a customer journey-mapping platform or an analytics platform.
Brooks contracted with Amperity to run a 10-week proof of concept and ended up accomplishing more during the test than during the entire engagement with the other provider, McKelvey said. The technology was up and running within 90 days.
Now that it was no longer running in circles, Brooks could use its centralized data store to start experimenting with segmentation and personalization.
The first thing Brooks did was to delve into the data sets for insights to make its messaging more relevant. For example, is it better to target recent or long-standing customers with a particular email message about sports bras?
“Something like that isn’t as intuitive or obvious as you may think,” McKelvey said. “We can do rapid iteration and test and learn, which is particularly significant for the marketing team. We’re actually touching less with email, but each one is more impactful, because it’s more relevant.”
Brooks is also beginning to play around with personalization on its owned-and-operated retail site by using data from Amperity to change the experience based on a customer’s past purchases.
Logged-in data and data from marketing segments stored in Amperity is being used to identify male versus female runners and to customize the site with different imagery accordingly.
Although it’s premature to share results, McKelvey said that return on ad spend, click-throughs and conversion rates “are improving, and it’s because we’re able to get our message to the right people.”
While companies invest a lot of effort deploying personalization platforms for things like offer management and segmentation, the data they’re feeding in is often too limited, said Amperity’s CEO, Kabir Shahani.
“A narrow profile of the customer impact results,” Shahani said. “You may get the journey orchestration piece working well, for example, to trigger personalized campaigns and messaging, but it’s only as good as the data you have underneath. You need the data infrastructure to hit the next domino.”
It’s very early, but the product team at Brooks is even looking into hiring a data analyst who will be able to use data from Amperity to inform design and manufacturing decisions.
“We already create footwear for certain target personas and we have an idea of who should buy this shoe or that shoe,” McKelvey said. “But we can use the data to really understand who is buying as we develop our product road map.”