1999 Aug 01
Moving Beyond Traditional Campaign Management
David M. Raab
Relationship Marketing Report
August, 1999

Telecommunications analysts sometimes refer to POTS–Plain Old Telephone Service, in contrast to the fancy new services now available. In the same way, it’s useful to distinguish Plain Old Campaign Management–the ability to extract file segments, promote them, and analyze the results–from the advanced functions that campaign management software vendors are now adding to their products. Until a couple of years ago, there were so few products that just having Plain Old Campaign Management was enough to make a system interesting. But today, so much campaign management software is available that a vendor needs something more to stand out from the crowd.

But what to add? At one time, industry observers (including this one) spoke confidently of Third Generation campaign management, which would control customer interactions as they occurred. But few systems have actually appeared with that capability, and only a handful of companies have implemented it. So it appears that everyone will not evolve in that direction.

Instead, campaign management vendors have chosen to add many different features. Here are some of them.

– integrated modeling. Predictive modeling has long been a key element in database marketing. Many older products have offered loose integration with third-party modeling software, typically through interfaces that make it easy to extract data for modeling and to import scores or scoring formulas. But newer systems including Recognition Systems Protagona (previously ideas Solution; www.recsys.com) and Unica Impact (www.unica-usa.com) provide model-building capabilities within the campaign management software itself. This allows non-technical users to use model scores in their campaigns with a minimum of effort–although a significant level of skill is still needed to make sure the systems are applied properly. It will be interesting to find how widely these modeling functions are actually used: in the past, vendors with integrated modeling modules have reported that while many prospects asked if they were available, few ended up purchasing them. Everyone else either continues to rely on traditional models generated by professional statisticians, or does without.

– multidimensional analysis. Like modeling, data analysis has always been an important part of campaign management. Early vendors built their own analysis tools, since they used proprietary database engines that could not be read by anyone else. But once campaign management systems moved to standard relational databases, analysis was typically handled in third-party reporting software such as Crystal Reports or Business Objects. As multidimensional analysis tools like MicroStrategies DSS Agent, Oracle Express and Hyperion Essbase gained popularity, campaign management vendors added links to those products as well. (Multidimensional analysis uses data organized into common categories such as time, product, geography or customer segment; it is widely considered the most effective way to let non-technical users do detailed data analysis. It is also often called On Line Analytical Processing, or OLAP.) But integration with the third-party multidimensional software had its limits: segments identified on a multidimensional report usually could not be imported directly as a promotion selection, and changes in the marketing database were not automatically reflected in the multidimensional database. Today, E.piphany (www.epiphany.com) does campaign management directly on a multidimensional data structure, still using a standard relational database engine. This simplifies administration and allows tight integration between the multidimensional analysis and standard campaign management functions. E.piphany also provides extensive functions for transforming operational data into the marketing database–another function that was built into the old proprietary systems, but is usually handled today by third-party or custom software.

– loyalty programs: traditionally, specialized software has been used to run marketing programs that issue rewards for customer purchases. Like conventional campaign managers, these systems work with customer transaction data. But they also need to credit points as they are earned, look up balances, and issue awards. These imply data structures and interface screens that allow direct access by data entry staff, which are significantly different from the structures and interfaces used in a conventional campaign management system. Still, campaign management products including RMS MarketEXPERT (www.marketexpert.com) and STS Open MarketWorks (www.stssystems.com)–both developed for retailers–have modules to provide these functions. MarketEXPERT also has a “marketbasket” module to identify products that are typically purchased together. This is another task that is usually performed by specialized software.

– contact management. By definition, contact management systems allow users to schedule, execute and record one-on-one contacts such as telephone calls or in-store conversations. Like loyalty functions, these require transaction processing technologies that are foreign to standard campaign management architectures. But vendors including AIMS Software (www.aims-software.com) and MarketVision (www.marketv.com) have developed contact management modules that provide these abilities despite the technical challenge.

– profitability analysis. Bank marketers have a particularly difficult time measuring product and customer profitability. One reason is that much of their cost is related to the services consumed by a customer–for example, a customer who visits a branch three times a week might cost ten times as much to serve as a customer who conducts a single ATM transaction. Gathering this data from operational systems can be a major development project, which many banks extend to include their own profitability measurement system. Other banks use third-party profitability software or rely on an external service. But bank marketing systems including Centrax Marquis (www.marquismcif.com) and Acxiom Solvitur CIMS (www.acxiom.com) also offer detailed profitability reporting when the necessary data is available. The Acxiom product, which uses technology from data analysis software vendor Information Advantage, also extends beyond traditional campaign management to provide users with personalized “portals” to access a variety of marketing-related messages, data and reports.

– personalized e-mail. Traditional campaign management systems generate lists of customers to be sent promotions. These lists might include information for personalized letters. But most systems are not built to print the letters themselves because such work is usually done at external vendors with specialized equipment such as high speed printers. Personalized e-mail could be handled the same way, by having the marketing system just provide information to feed other systems. But many companies manage their e-mail internally, so it is less likely that an external vendor will be needed to produce the final electronic communication. Campaign management vendors including Ceres (www.ceresios.com), Prime Response (www.prime-response.com) and Recognition Systems (www.recsys.com) have developed products to generate the personalized e-mails directly. Prime and Recognition can also help generate personalized Web pages, although neither can quite do the task by itself.

– other functions. Vendors have extended campaign management in still other directions, including work flow (tracking tasks such as copy writing and budget approvals), promotion calendars (showing all promotions planned during a specified period), optimization (picking the best promotion for an individual), integrated mapping, automated job execution and, of course, real-time interaction management. Some of these functions are quite popular–for example, nearly every system today has a scheduler to execute campaigns automatically. But most of the additional functions are needed by only a small set of customers, depending on their industry, sophistication, or business strategy. So it seems that while Plain Old Campaign Management is no longer enough, there are many alternate approaches that may lead to vendor–and client–success.

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David M. Raab is a Principal at Raab Associates Inc., a consultancy specializing in marketing technology and analytics. He can be reached at draab@raabassociates.com.

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