Measure Online Impacts
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is capturing and managing customer data in-house, but in 2005 it added an on- demand marketing operations management service from Assetlink, the vendor recently acquired by SAS, to track its marketing efforts.
"We didn't have good operational metrics about what campaigns were done, when they were done, their cost, which strategy they supported, and whether they were integrated across multiple channels," says Lorraine Hand, director of marketing operations at RBC.
Consolidating data that was previously scattered across spreadsheets and executive PCs, the RBC Assetlink system now has more than five years of information on strategic marketing plans, budgets, and campaigns across broadcast, cable TV, direct mail, email, and telemarketing. In the past year, RBC added detailed data on ad placements, changes in brand metrics (tracked by surveys), and campaign responses.
The Assetlink database has grown so large that Hand says it likely will be integrated with RBC's data warehouse. Companies are finding that targeting and campaign result data has to be accessible alongside customer information, but that doesn't mean RBC has to move Assetlink to an on-premises deployment. The Assetlink data can be treated as just another data source--albeit a rich one--as far as integration is concerned, so the usual batch or Web service data integration options should do. As long as the data's accessible, marketing can do its analysis.
RBC's goal is to understand what's working and what isn't, and the company goes to great lengths to track variations. For example, RBC may employ as many as 200 toll-free numbers and URLs to test and track a large credit card campaign across cable TV, online, email, direct mail, and even print and airport billboard advertising. RBC can also measure the lift from broadcast ads--what Hand calls "air cover," which the bank used extensively during last year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
"It's about looking at the whole marketing mix, optimizing it, and making sure that it's worth putting the dollars against more expensive TV campaigns," Hand says.
Gaps In Analysis
The one area where RBC isn't satisfied is online advertising. That might seem like the channel that's most measurable, but RBC can't connect clicks to completed sales in most cases, in part because of regulatory hurdles that most American companies don't face.
The problem with online is that there's almost too much data, Hand says. Yet because of Canada's tough know-the-customer restrictions related to opening financial accounts online, it's hard to tie clicks to new business. Financial services companies can sell simple products online like credit cards, but only to existing customers. New bank accounts and almost any product sold to a new customer requires a phone call or branch visit, Hand says. So did someone call to start an account because they saw an email ad, visited the website, or even saw a poster?
"We may know that we drove somebody to click on a URL and five weeks later we may see an increase in our portfolio," she says, "but it's hard to connect that click to somebody picking up a phone or walking into a branch to buy a product." RBC is experimenting with reporting and analytics software to determine which online campaigns were running, when they were running, and how they influenced sales of financial products.