Executive Series Part 1
Multi-channel Marketing Automation, Data Management and
In an effort
to optimize their marketing
investment, most customer-facing organizations have
prioritized data-driven multi-channel marketing in their
marketing mix. But
with this data prioritization comes an increased demand for
marketing automation tools, products and services.
And budget allocation to such non-agency, one-off
expenses is highly scrutinized. Failure is unacceptable.
And success must be proven.
marketing automation must not only deliver as requested, but
also deliver quantifiable improvement...or else.
The Multi-Channel Marketing
Bill of Rights
To protect yourself and your team, be
advised that successful delivery of multi-channel marketing
solutions in any industry vertical requires a solution that:
Is complete, flexible and scalable. It must accommodate
current and future needs for operations, analytics and
Continually maximizes the performance and quality of CRM
programs through the use of best-in-class tools and seasoned
processes/procedures aiding all stakeholders.
Ensures that “marketing aware” processes, personnel and
tools are aligned to satisfy the core elements of
multi-channel marketing delivery—marketing operations, data
management and data stewardship.
Continually manages marketing expectation, satisfaction and
drives success by ensuring cost, service, staffing and
application of expertise meet marketing expectations and
So when engaging a marketing services
provider, defining an in-house strategy involving IT, or
considering a hybrid approach involving a combination of
vendors and internal resources, the above items must be
Weakness in any one will result in failure.
Data Management and
Marketing Services Provider
Marketing Service Providers (MSPs) are
a single source for managing customer data, campaign
management technology and services as well as reporting and
companies have developed MSP capabilities in-house. Some, if
not most, outsource these services. In either case, their
work is mission critical.
When engaging an MSP, the key question
is “what are you buying?”
Is it a turnkey product that requires “minimal”
oversight, or a service that should be actively managed?
The minimal oversight approach is certainly
seductive, not only because it is less work for staff, but
also because it appears to put less pressure on the
non-technical folks responsible for the relationship.
But there is a high price to be paid for this option,
both in terms of cost and risk.
The more oversight the MSPs perform,
the more they charge and the less the client is involved,
which means it’s harder for the client to evaluate vendor
performance. When errors occur, only the MSP really knows
about them. So it’s not until operations get so bad and
campaigns cannot execute that the client gets the message
that there’s a problem. And by then minor adjustments are
not going to solve the problem. Even more, when costs
increase, only the MSP knows if the inflation is really
warranted or the result of the MSP’s failure.
This is a major problem for clients.
Marketing database solutions fail all the time.
Mistakes can be made in the design/build phase.
Mistakes can be made linking in data or structuring data.
The result: Execution goes wrong and analytics yield
erroneous findings. Those mistakes are costly in the short
and long term.
So let’s get real. Marketing executives never really have a
turnkey option for CRM.
Every marketer responsible for the customer database
has an obligation to understand and manage to the inner
workings of the MSP. Ensuring
success means managing with knowledge, anticipating issues
and building a constructive and transparent client-vendor
Turn-key is a myth. You have to actively manage your
This does not mean MSPs are inherently
dishonest or provide bad service. On the contrary—MSPs are
essential partners for Marketers.
But MSPs are ultimately self-interested and in
business to make as much money from their clients as they
can. That said, if no one in your company actually has the
ability to properly manage the MSP, there’s a fix. Bring in
someone who can – hire them, contract them, whatever works
for your organization. Once you have the right team, active
management is not so hard.
So, we started this article discussing
the marketer’s Bill of Rights for multi-channel solutions.
Then we determined that the best way to ensure your rights
are met is with a team that can actively manage the
marketing services providers.
Now we get to the “how” - how to take a more active
role in managing your vendors, how to determine if vendors
are fulfilling their obligations under the above Bill of
Rights, and how to fully articulate your solution
needs, so your
solution providers actually create something that works for
you. We start
now with the core elements of an MSP solution - Data
Management and Data Stewardship.
A critical aspect of a CRM solution is
how the MSP manages the underlying database and makes it
usable to its clients.
Unfortunately, this is hard to see unless you know
what you are looking for and both Marketers and their IT
Partners are typically at a disadvantage based on their
the point of purchase, Marketers tend to focus on ease of
use and presentation of reporting.
IT tends to focus on infrastructure and security
of this is important, but it misses a core component of
the solution: the database and how it is managed.
This is serious business.
When MSPs under-deliver on the database design, data
management practices and data stewardship support,
everything of value to the marketer is compromised.
Campaign execution becomes unstable, causing delays
and errors. Reporting becomes unreliable resulting in poor
decision making and restatements of numbers to senior
management. Development of insights and analytics becomes
costly and time consuming, if possible at all.
Overall, poor database management practices will
bleed your budget, harm your reputation and slash
satisfaction in the CRM capability.
The challenge is that while both Data
Management and Data Stewardship are critically important,
marketers do not have visibility into their deployment.
The marketer’s typical view of a CRM capability is
typically limited to program execution status and reporting
purpose of this document is to give marketers a view of
these critical areas and how best to manage MSPs to deliver
Data management is the approach used by
MSPs to organize, store and deliver data to clients and
MSPs continually hone their data management practices to
maximize the accuracy, timeliness and consistency of data
that they deliver throughout their engagement.
Successful MSPs bring
optimal data models on day one.
The quality of the data model used by an MSP is a key
leading indicator of success.
Innovation in data model design enables data
accuracy, ease of use and reduces the cost of adapting to
changes in business requirements.
In addition, rigor and innovation in data model
design in MSPs is highly correlated to high performance in
A good data model is extensible.
An extensible data model is designed to withstand
changes to business needs.
The difference between an extensible data model
design and a poor data model design is similar to the
difference between designing a room’s electrical outlets
based on where your television is located today vs.
designing for change and including multiple electrical
access points around the room in case you want to move the
TV. With a
single outlet design, any change forces you to either
rebuild your electrical -
a costly procedure involving not only electricians, but also
contractors - or use extension cords, which is messy and can
be dangerous, depending on the load of the TV and whatever
else you may choose to plug into that room’s outlet.
By designing the electrical in the room with an eye
towards change, you avoid costly labor, downtime and safety
databases, it’s exactly the same. Any change to the design
of the database is a structural change that requires costly
tasks and resources, including development and testing, plus
structural changes have a high probability of causing
Extensibility is achieved through two approaches:
Design Best Practice.
Regardless of industry or business need, using data
normalization to limit redundancy and data abstraction to
organize data in higher level groupings reduces error and
the need for structural changes.
a. If the model includes a
person’s full name in multiple locations, every piece of
code that populates and maintains that data must update
and add in all locations, increasing the likelihood of
Data Normalization ensures that the full name is in a
single location, minimizing the complexity of
b. If the model has made room for
exactly two phone numbers and has designated one “home”
and one “work”, the model would not be able to support
additional phone numbers or different designations
(“mobile” or “fax”) without a redesign.
Data Abstraction would genericize phone number to
allow for any number of “phone types” without programming or
Applying CRM and
Vertical Domain Expertise.
On top of Database Design Best Practice, MSPs are
expected to bring expertise in modeling CRM data and
knowledge of the client’s vertical markets to anticipate
future business needs. So they design the model accordingly.
a. Managing self-reported
profile data, such as data from registration pages, surveys
and web forms, is a fundamental requirement for all MSP
databases. Survey and response data from channel partners usually
represent the majority of data collection transactions.
Ensuring the integrity of this data requires an
optimized design that establishes an extensible repository
of Question/Answer pairs linked to an extensible repository
of responses. If
the MSP is simply capturing data at the fulfillment/form
level, accurate reporting and analysis across programs and
brands becomes difficult.
b. Modeling a central campaign
hierarchy into the database to which all transactional
elements reference ensures accuracy and consistency in query
and reporting. These hierarchies contain organizational elements (region,
division, business unit), campaign strategy elements
(strategic objective, campaign definition) and campaign
execution elements (tactical objective, wave, channel and
that do not include a centrally modeled campaign hierarchy
in their models are forced to compensate by storing key
elements inconsistently, increasing error and reducing the
usability and accuracy of reporting.
is that these design elements are part of what the MSP
brings to the table and that they are not building a model
· MSPs manage design
and development of their data models as a core product
Engaging an MSP should be different than hiring a
programmer/database developer to build and run a database.
While one would assume that a programmer/database
developer would have to design a data model from scratch to
build a database, the expectation is that an MSP brings an
optimized model to the table.
While data models can be created as
one-off customized designs, or leverage design templates, an
optimized data model is a core offering of an MSP and
demands a rigorous process of innovation so that there is
continual improvement driving robust centralized models.
· MSPs balance the need
to adapt to changes in requirements with the need to ensure
design integrity. When
new marketing operations requirements emerge, depending on
the data model, it may be necessary to create special
purpose tables outside the core data model to deliver on
MSP’s should ensure that temporary changes made for
expediency do not become permanent.
This requires not only robust change management
procedures, but also a governance process that continually
reviews data model integrity and identifies optimizations.
· MSPs enforce data
integrity through internal constraints.
Database integrity constraints ensure databases do
not create orphan records that can produce gaps in reporting
or gaps in data processing.
MSP’s should use best practices in relational
modeling to proactively avoid this condition.
MSPs typically are in the position
of hosting a client critical customer database.
As a result, they fill an essential role in ensuring
proper use of the database by clients and their partners, as
well as serve as a knowledge resource.
MSPs must maintain
active and complete knowledge of client data needs.
An MSP must not only provide knowledge and mastery of
the data systems within their systems and guidance for how
to use their systems, but also provide a robust connection
to the clients business to ensure complete knowledge of
business requirements and the relationship of these
requirements to database design.
MSPs must track business needs and identify optimal
adjustments to the database and meta data to meet these
MSPs must maximize
transparency and usability of their database for clients.
MSPs must ensure that data elements and their
relationship to each other are properly documented, properly
designed and easily accessible to clients and their
includes ensuring the availability of continually updated
comprehensive data dictionaries which both provide
explanations of the data fields and document their use and
mappings of database design elements to business need.
· MSPs must ensure
proper knowledge transfer of databases to clients.
MSPs must take proactive steps towards ensuring a
complete, accurate and consistent understanding of database
designs, data elements and database use approaches for
clients and partners.
This includes establishment of a training strategy
across all stakeholders.
When thinking of multi-channel marketing solution success
criteria, the following results are at the top of the list:
good data quality, campaign execution reliability, reporting
accuracy, and insights accessibility.
Data Management and Data Stewardship are at the core
of achieving these criteria. The
better your team can articulate not only your business
requirements, but also your data/database requirements, the
more successful your team will be in multi-channel
marketing. You don't have to be a database expert, but you
need one on your team - not your MSP's team, but your
For more information
about our DBMT® CRM Executive Series, please email us at
or call us at 212-717-6000.