Mark Patron has more than 20 years of experience in data-driven marketing, formerly as the MD of Claritas (now Acxiom) and, since 2006, as the CEO of RedEye International.
I've been talking to Mark about integrated digital marketing and the latest possibilities for behaviourally triggered email...
How has your background in offline direct marketing shaped the way you think about digital and e-commerce?
To me e-commerce and direct marketing are indistinguishable. Accountability and measurability underpin both. I’ve been in direct marketing for 22 years, with the last 10 years increasingly through digital channels.
What is particularly different about digital marketing or do the same tried and trusted business principles apply?
Speed and interactivity separate digital from the traditional channels. Digital also has a much greater reliance on technology. All of which allows for a much richer user experience.
From your experience, are companies getting better at taking an integrated approach to digital marketing?
Companies are getting better, although truly integrated marketing is still something we really only aspire to. Agencies are now much better at integrating creative across different media. But real integrated media planning is still some way off with different media planned in different silos.
Do you think that companies are getting better at de-duplicating across different channels in order to understand properly where they are getting the best return on investment?
I think we have some way to go. For example the importance of de-duplication is not fully realised. We still talk about unique visitors rather than individuals. Without accurate individual-level data no useful follow-up marketing communications are possible, and it is simply not possible to understand the customer journey.
Only looking at the "last click wins" is not good enough. Our research shows that 40 - 60% of sales are completed with a different medium to how they started, plus between 75 - 90% of sales have some form of "assist" prior to the last click.
Our recently published Email Census, sponsored by Adestra, showed that only a minority of companies are sending emails based on online behaviour, but that a lot of companies want to utilise this. How are your clients using behavioural email and what is the future potential?
I found the survey results fascinating, for example 47% of companies want to use website behaviour to target emails. Nearly all our clients now do this. It is a great way to make emails more relevant and targeted. For example, not only with basket abandonment emails, but also if someone views pages on pet insurance on the way to buying motor insurance follow up with a pet insurance offer.
My belief is that in the future most email response will come from relevant email rather than bulk email. The way to make emails relevant is segmentation. The number of segments we process has gone up by a factor of 12 over the last 20 months.
What is typically holding companies back from tying up their web analytics and email data?
Trying to run two databases in parallel is very difficult. It is very inefficient from a cost, privacy, technical and data accuracy point of view. This situation is a result of history. Web analytics came out of the IT department, whereas email originated from direct marketers adding email addresses to their marketing databases. The two are not irreconcilable, but have a long way to go to being truly joined up.
Can you tell us something about your work with Monarch which has enabled them to reduce their acquisition costs?
Monarch Airlines improved on the traditional media strategy based on “last click” by analysing the customer journey. As a result of re-allocating media spend based on the unique Media Mix data, Monarch has lowered their cost per acquisition by 73%. Additionally they have doubled the sales from price comparison sites and ultimately they can now make commercial decisions with confidence with results of real cost savings without sacrificing vital booking volumes.
What is the right balance between a quantitative approach to website optimisation (for example multi-variate testing) and a more qualitative user-centred design approach?
Good question. You get the “what” from web analytics and the “why” from usability. The findings from testing, be it analytics or user testing, is only ever useful when the information is used to make business decisions.
For example analytics may tell us x% of customers are abandoning their basket before making a purchase on a particular site and usability testing will explain why that abandonment took place; maybe due to a confusing purchase form. But it is only when you use this information to create changes that will improve the user experience that you will get the results you want. How + Why + Action = Results
Do you find that RedEye clients generally use isolated services from your portfolio, and therefore don’t benefit from a joined-up approach?
With 47% of companies wanting to use website behaviour to target emails it is not surprising that most of our new business is now a combination of web analytics and email. Most of our existing clients have also moved to an integrated service using web analytics and email to drive behavioural email. I think we still have some way to go to extracting the real value from integrating web analytics and usability, but I’m confident it will come. And as a supplier it’s up to us to demonstrate this value.