Eric Callahan, Head of Performance Analytics at American Express, examined how business professionals can use big data to develop agile marketing campaigns during his keynote presentation to Argyle's CIO membership at the 2017 Leadership in Big Data & Analytics Forum in New York City on October 19. In his presentation, "Layering Insights on Automation," Callahan explored marketing and what can be done to streamline marketing campaigns and optimize their effectiveness.
According to Callahan, marketing "nirvana" is an unrealistic idea. Although some want to deploy seamless marketing campaigns time and time again, doing so proves to be virtually impossible for a number of reasons.
Oftentimes, marketers want to automate their marketing campaigns. This approach enables them to quickly and effortlessly engage with a company's target audience without significant time and resource investments.
Yet they frequently strive to connect with the right prospects and customers, at the right time, every time. Accomplishing this feat may be difficult, particularly for those who set up automated campaigns.
"We want to be hands-off, and we don't want to be touching too many things," Callahan said. "And we don't want to over-contact … or under-contact."
Ultimately, they need to allocate substantial time and resources to create and optimize a marketing campaign. Despite their best efforts, ensuring the optimal results from each marketing campaign can be challenging as well.
"There's a lot of manual effort in setting up a marketing campaign," Callahan pointed out. "And targeting sometimes is just a fancy word for guessing."
Marketers face a difficult balance between simplification and automation. If they prioritize simplification, they may struggle to collect advanced data and insights to drive meaningful business improvements.
"There's sometimes a little friction between making things easier and making things smarter."
Conversely, if marketers deploy state-of-the-art data collection and analysis technologies, the sheer volume of data available to them can be overwhelming. And if they fail to effectively mine and analyze this information, they risk missing out on actionable business insights.
"There's sometimes a little friction between making things easier and making things smarter," Callahan stated.
Today, American Express incorporates both automation and advanced data collection and analysis technologies into its marketing campaigns, Callahan said. The company has discovered a balance between simplification and automation that has helped it connect with prospects and customers like never before.
American Express is capable of deploying marketing campaigns and getting feedback in real-time, Callahan pointed out. As such, the business can provide prospects and customers with timely, relevant and accurate information and gain the insights it needs to make real-time marketing campaign changes.
"We're talking to you in a timely manner, and we're talking to you about what the event was," Callahan indicated. "That's the new way of doing things for us."
Furthermore, American Express has removed the guesswork from complex data collection and analysis.
American Express now establishes marketing campaigns that automatically collect data over an extended period of time. That way, the company can perform data analysis at any time to ensure its campaigns are hitting the mark with its target audience.
"If we're going to be looking at what people have done … you sometimes can make it harder for people to get campaigns out the door," Callahan stated. "To overcome this, we've set up a campaign to be set it and forget it."
In addition, American Express has simplified the process of making changes to a marketing campaign.
"We're talking to you in a timely manner, and we're talking to you about what the event was. And that's the new way of doing things for us."
The American Express marketing team can instantly deploy changes to a marketing campaign. Meanwhile, these changes will take effect in real-time and require minimal effort to complete.
"As you get insights coming in for your campaign … you can send instructions back in to make changes in real-time, and the marketing team really doesn't have to do anything else," Callahan said.
Clearly, lots of work lies ahead for marketers to get the most out of marketing campaigns. If they use a combination of automation and data collection and analysis technologies, however, they may be better equipped than ever before to achieve their desired results.
Automation and data collection and analysis technologies together can help marketers maximize the return on investment (ROI) associated with their marketing campaigns. Over time, these technologies may move them closer to marketing nirvana and ensure these professionals can reap the benefits of data-driven marketing.
"Are we at nirvana now? Of course not. But we're getting closer, and we think the new way is much better than the new way, which is seen in the business results and employee satisfaction," Callahan noted.
Eric Callahan is the Director of Performance Analytics at American Express. His team helps make marketing relevant to cardmembers by identifying behavioral triggers signaling what type of message a cardmember is ready to receive and when they are ready to receive it. An experienced data translator, Eric is very skilled at presenting analytical findings and recommendations to non-technical audiences and seeing analytical solutions through to implementation.
Prior to American Express, Eric has worked at RCI, Barclaycard, and Discover. He has a Masters Degree in Statistics from Cornell University and a Bachelors in Music from Ithaca College. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, two children, and two cats and is a big sports fan who volunteers his analytic skills to various non-profits.