Stop! List-Based Marketing Is Not Database Marketing

The Adaptive Marketer Top 10

Part 2: Adaptive Marketer™ Data Environment

‘Sup digital marketers! In the second chapter of our Adaptive Marketer Top 10 series, we’re highlighting the most important asset to any marketer’s career and any brand’s true success: the Adaptive Marketer™ Data EnvironmentIf there is just one of these ten practices that I want you to remember, it’s this one. The AMDE, as we’ll call it (selfishly, so I don’t have to type it out a thousand times), is the customer data playground and knowledge center that you’ve always been looking for. It’s built specifically for marketers—not IT—and it’s fast. Really fast. It’s your bible when it comes to a single-source of truth to know everything about your customers in real time. It’s absolutely required for powering the most relevant and profitable customer experience. 

Adaptive Marketer Data Environment Icon

Artificial intelligence to the rescue?

The way I like to explain the raw power of AMDE is to look at the latest industry buzzword: Artificial intelligence. Like all viral buzzwords that came before it, AI is forcing every martech company to have a stance and ride the relevancy wave. I’ve even noticed some change their hero image overnight—literally—to claim they now have it.

While AI can offer tons of innovative value through recommendations and faster trend analysis, it is only as effective as the quality and amount of data that you feed it. Data is garbage in, garbage out, and AI doesn’t magically solve for this. However, along with the hype, many companies are eager to implement the “latest and greatest,” even though the majority don’t truly understand it or how it can help their business. Our industry is notorious for getting ahead of itself in terms of what it claims you need. 

Thus, this latest innovation wave has yet again forced marketers to overlook the basics. It’s another “easy button” that no one is actually ready for. Any campaign, with or without [insert buzzword here], is only as powerful as the amount of customer knowledge and context that powers it. It’s been clear to Alterian for years that traditional digital marketers, especially email marketers, simply don’t and/or can’t fully know their customers due to their partial context, list-based marketing strategies and disconnected toolsets. Instead of expensive or complex AI, marketers often just need basic, full context database marketing.

Centralized Decision Engine

You might want to look at your data practices first.

In fact, most digital marketers don’t even have a basic foundation to apply AI to. We see proof of this during the transformation from traditional digital marketer to Adaptive Marketer. The first realization and excitement that occurs is finally being able to know your customers! It’s about getting all customer data in one place, ensuring the accuracy and cleanliness of that data, and having quick and easy access without the help of IT.

If you’re getting sold the “sexy AI” message, I would strongly challenge you and your team to take a step back before you fall victim of the industry getting ahead of itself again. You can’t cover up your list-based marketing practices with a sexy-seeming AI bandaid. AI can be extraordinary for marketing, but only when layered on top of a basic database marketing foundation and principles.

NEWS FLASH: List-based marketing is not database marketing.

If you are importing and exporting lists within email marketing, business intelligence (BI), and analytics tools, then you’re not doing database marketing. Your disconnected tools force a segmented—and, quite frankly, annoying—workflow, which also forces a segmented understanding of customers.

If you’re relying on IT to get you counts of specific customer segments and attributes, then you’re not doing database marketing. If your single source of truth is not directly integrated with your campaign management tool with drag-and-drop audience segmentation and campaign creation, then you’re not adapting quickly enough. This list-based approach forces you to create campaigns that are powered by:

Different Databases

  • Partial understanding of your customer data (instead of a wholistic knowledge of them)
  • Static data (instead of real-time dynamic data) 
  • Outdated audience segments that are days/weeks old (instead of accurate dynamic audience segments) 
  • Slow deployment (days or weeks instead of minutes or hours) 

Now, what do you think will happen if you power a campaign based on partial, static, and out-of-date customer data? You get skewed results and offer an irrelevant and negative customer experience. Not to mention, it’s impossible to report accurate and holistic ROI… but that’s a topic for a later blog. ????

If this is you, then you are perfectly positioned to upgrade your marketing abilities simply by knowing your customers better, not investing in AI just yet. It’s an exciting time for you!

Let’s get to know each other.

To an Adaptive Marketer, “knowing your customers” means knowing the full and latest state of each individual customer relationship. More specifically, knowing your customers means using both slow data (historical profile) and fast data (in-the-moment behavior). The AMDE centralizes data from all channels to give you a wholistic, clear picture of who your customer really is.

Adaptive Marketer Data Environment Slow and Fast Data Venn Diagram

So, what? Knowing your customer means you can answer insightful questions in a matter of seconds, such as… 

  • What was the total spend of my lapsing loyalist last month? 
  • How many customer’s with an LTV >$2,500 did not purchased from me last month?
  • How many females that purchase from me once a month have not done so yet, but have seen the latest promotion? 

Imagine being able to answer these questions almost instantaneously; it’s essential to create campaigns and strategy based on all customer knowledge and context. It’s also important so you can develop and deploy omnichannel campaigns the same day—yes, that’s right. You heard me. Adaptive Marketers can do this because the Adaptive Marketer Data Environment utilizes database marketing practices rather than list-based marketing.

Repeat after me: List-based marketing is not database marketing.

It’s our mission to turn traditional digital marketers into Adaptive Marketers. If you want to be able to answer highly specific customer data questions in the moment, your database model matters. Let’s look at the side-by-side advantages of database marketing versus list-based marketing:

Traditional Marketer

List-Based Marketing – the Traditional Marketer

  • Customer data is spread across multiple tools and formats, causing disparity
  • Constantly asking IT to pull reports can take days or weeks and create friction between teams
  • Using data that’s days or weeks old makes for outdated campaigns and negative customer experiences
  • In a relational model, more data variables means added complexity and difficulty

Database Marketing – the Adaptive Marketer

  • All customer data resides in a single tool, enabling speed and accuracy
  • You can explore data in a matter of seconds in an environment built specifically for marketers
  • Build audience segments using all possible real-time data for effective CX and accurate ROI
  • In a columnar model, more data variables are easily added and queried at speed

You don’t need a big, fancy, expensive solution.

Phew… that was a lot, I know, but it’s my passion taking over. Let’s sum things up.

As I mentioned above, it’s important to take a step back and realize that you can drastically increase revenue for your business just by getting all your customer data in one environment that marketing controls. Your campaigns will become far more effective because they are using audience segments and automated decisions based on all available customer knowledge. All of it! We know this because we’ve seen results—like a 66% increase in conversion rates and 20% incremental monthly revenue increases with basic, yet highly accurate segmentation. 

Take all this and combine it with the fact that your customers are becoming increasingly unpredictable and incredibly fast when interacting with your brand. This puts a strong emphasis on the need to stop using list-based approaches and start using database marketing principles to always understand them fully, quickly, and accurately. This will ensure your campaigns are always personalized, relevant, and ready to take full advantage of the next big thing, like AI.

It’s simple: The better the customer experience, the greater chance that they keep buying for you, and the better you look to your boss. Boom. 

Up Next: Real-Time Adaptive Customer Counts

This is just the second in a series of ten blogs based on The Adaptive Marketer Top 10. This eBook outlines the top ten things that only Adaptive Marketers can do, and I’ll be posting a blog about each chapter in the weeks to come. My goal? To help you become a better marketer for the sake of your brand, your customers, and your career! Be sure to follow our blog for the next installments using your favorite RSS feed tool and by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Next we’ll be discussing something that is enabled by the Adaptive Marketer Data Environment: Real-Time Adaptive Customer Counts. This one is all about the speed and ease of access to valuable, highly segmented customer data. Check back to learn how you can perform train-of-though analysis to detect trends and develop campaigns. No more waiting on IT for that report.

Read the last blog: Customer Journey Maps Don’t Work Anymore… So Upgrade Them

Mitch Folks Headshot

Mitch Folks, Director of Product Marketing

With more than seven years of experience inside the technology startup realm, Mitch has had a blast selling, building, marketing, managing, and deploying the convenience of technology inside various industries. The restaurant/hospitality, PR, consulting, digital advertising, and now digital marketing worlds have all been playgrounds that he has been invited to play in. Mitch is currently leveraging his sales and product management background to help drive product marketing efforts for Alterian. He’s responsible for being the liaison between product management and sales, driving strategic messaging and thought leadership through content creation and campaign execution.  

When he’s not writing his own bio or busy losing his eyesight from staring at a computer screen for 14 hours a day, he’s risking his life by sending it down single-track mountain bike trails, jamming out on the drums, or throwing weights around in the gym (while trying hard to not be too much of a bro).