IBM and Ensighten: Cracking the Code for Data-Driven Marketing

Josh Manion, CEO, Ensighten
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Josh Manion, CEO, Ensighten

Today’s battle for the customer can be won or lost on a well-defined field: how well does the marketing team use valuable, first-party data to engage consumers and optimize their experience? Making sense of a trail of data generated across a multi-channel customer journey, however, may be as challenging as unraveling a “genomic” blueprint. The question is how to decipher it.

Every customer journey is unique to one individual, whether it begins in a mobile app, a click on a display ad or a promotion in social media. Each touch point generates data. The question that the new partnership between IBM and Ensighten answers is this: How do we make sense of this complex journey from awareness to a decision to purchase - or not? How do we collect, unify and act on this behavioral data generated across every marketing application to make smart marketing decisions?

In a nutshell, Ensighten’s integration with IBM’s Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX) enables joint IBM Commerce and Ensighten customers to better orchestrate their marketing technologies and data sources to improve customer experiences. Customers can now access a world of customer data from web, mobile and other sources to support contextually appropriate, relevant and timely marketing actions.

The Marketer’s Dilemma

Let’s start by defining the marketer’s dilemma. A marketing team launches a new advertising campaign, and the CMO is quick to ask, what’s the ROI on each channel? What products or services did we sell or influence from a campaign? Even more, how did the campaign affect lifetime customer value?

  Customers can now access a world of customer data from web, mobile and other sources to support contextually appropriate, relevant, and timely marketing actions 

These questions are rarely easy to answer even in days or weeks, long past the moment when a campaign might be optimized or a single consumer re-engaged with relevant offers. This dilemma for “in-the-moment” marketing first and foremost reflects the complexity of the customer journey. Marketers seek to drive the customer to take action, whether it’s downloading a whitepaper, watching a video or responding to an email or taking advantage of an in-store promotion. That journey typically spans three distinct paths: the worlds of offsite, onsite and offline channels.

The customer, for example, often begins his or her journey “offsite” - outside a brand’s domain altogether with clicks on display advertisements, video, email or search. That journey may continue to a brand’s “onsite” domains, such the company’s website, campaign landing pages or mobile apps. And it may also engage “offline” channels, such as point of sale (POS) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, which hold critical intelligence about customers, but often sit separately within an organization.

In today’s ecosystem, many systems and providers capture data, whether they are marketing vendors furnishing services like email, retargeting and analytics, or the DMP used in building “look-a-like” audiences and placing digital ads. With this complexity, can the marketing team identify each customer across every touch point? How is it possible to even know it’s the same consumer given the different systems and providers capturing information?

Ultimately, what’s most important becomes most difficult. Siloed, fragmented and disparate data must be stitched together to tell a story and provide the insight for in-the-moment marketing action. That’s where the IBM and Ensighten partnership steps in to support the marketing team.

The Customer Data Platform

Ensighten was founded in 2009 and quickly established itself as a leader in enterprise tag management. Tag management systems (TMS) emerged as a way to eliminate the bottleneck between marketing and IT over the deployment of “tags,” i.e., snippets of code embedded in web and mobile channels as a way for digital marketing vendors to collect data.

Enterprise tag management, however, rapidly evolved to become a highly strategic data platform. Or as James McCormick of Forrester Research put it, “Beyond just the management of tags, tag management delivers flexible yet safe data governance, scalable action-based analytics, and optimized customer engagements.”

Most recently, enterprise tag management has become the anchor to the customer data platform (CDP), which Gartner Research defines as an “integrated customer database managed by marketers that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing, sales and service channels to enable customer modeling and drive customer experience.” Gartner recently introduced the CDP into its Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising, 2016.

The Ensighten CDP gives marketers control in collecting and owning first-party customer data across touch points, enables attribution to the right channel, and facilitates creation of customer segments and profiles. Marketers gain the ability to “see” a customer as he or she engages with a brand across channels and devices. In effect, it creates a hub with standardized, cross-channel data from all sources, from offline interactions on search to the valuable information on customers sitting in the customer relationship management (CRM) and point-of-sale (POS) systems.

Consider digital display ad performance. It’s now possible to track display ad performance, making the data first party to the brand by adding a branded pixel to the ad. The platform retains this first-party data, recognizes a customer within appropriate privacy standards and, based on a set of rules, responds.

A Data-Driven IBM Marketing Cloud

Data is of little value without the ability to act on it. And that’s where the IBM Marketing Platform dramatically extends the value of data. With the Ensighten partnership, IBM commerce customers have access with point-and-click simplicity to a rich source of cross-channel, behavioral data for action across the technologies and analytics in the IBM Marketing Cloud, the company’s digital marketing platform.

IBM has built the platform as an open-ecosystem to give customers maximum flexibility with the technologies and tools required. And it delivers varied capabilities, including campaign management, analytics, personalization and digital advertising.

Additionally, cross-channel data can be used to power IBM Customer Experience Analytics, which gives customers a single place to answer what is happening and why in the customer journey. Analytics enable the marketer to go from question to decision in minutes with unified analytics by turning data points into a point of view on the customer journey. IBM customers also gain instant access to more than 1,100 turnkey marketing tag integrations housed in the Ensighten platform.

Ensighten’s integration with IBM UBX should be seen as a way to facilitate in-the-moment customer experiences using data from all sources. It enables immediate, pragmatic benefits by:

• Creating a holistic view of the increasingly complex customer journey
• Jump-starting mobile app analytics and optimization initiatives
• Easily integrating data and technology from other vendors
• Creating unified customer profiles that can be used to drive real-time action.

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