Highlights of Data Marketing 2013 Conference in Toronto

Key themes were: Customer Obsessed Marketer, Segment of One, SoLoMo (Social, Local and Mobile), and Big Data - actionable insights and decision making.

Guest blog by Elizabeth Lam, Dec 26, 2013.

I want to thank Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro from KDnuggets for access to Data Marketing ConferenceDATA MARKETING 2013, held in Toronto, Canada, December 9-10. I had a great time at the conference and met many interesting people.

Customers are generating unprecedented amounts of data, revealing their tastes, engagement, and buying behaviors, and marketers are scrambling to leverage these insights into their campaigns. The Data Marketing Conference took place on December 9 - 10, 2013 in Toronto with many marketing professionals gathering to share best practices and trends to keep ahead of the rapidly evolving data landscape. There was a lot of excitement because of the caliber of speakers and high interest in using Big Data to make smarter and more nuanced marketing decisions. The participants came from a variety of high profile brands and industries including IT, social media, financial, government, law, marketing agencies, and retailers. The conference schedule was packed and it was impossible to cover everything. Instead, the key takeaways, recurring themes, and standout talks are summarized below.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Decision making is still hard even with more data and technology.
  2. Insight from data needs to be actionable, otherwise, it's just interesting.
  3. Customer trust is to be earned incrementally through organic interactions. There is a fine line between being cool and being creepy.
  4. The Segment of One is great, but is it feasible from an economy of scale perspective?

General Themes:

  • The buying journey is increasingly complex: The majority of customers research online before making a purchasing decision. They have many choices, have high expectations, and are in charge of their interactions with marketing.
  • Social - Local - Mobile: Customers are interacting with social media, searching locally, and connected on mobile devices 24/7, generating massive amounts of data, much of which is unstructured and requires both business and analytic skills to discover actionable insights.
  • Single View of the Customer / 360 degree view: Integrate all sources of customer data into a single, holistic view for building better customer behavior models.
  • The Segment of One: Customer segments of size one for targeted individual engagement. How to best use the large amount of disparate data available to better influence the customer?
  • Fine line between cool and creepy: Customers are open to timely targeted offers, however, trust and privacy are concerns. Customer interactions should be organic.
  • Challenges: Issues such as data collection, integration, quality, relevancy over time, and not least of all, security and privacy, are challenging.
  • Communication gaps: The communication gaps between business and analysts need to be bridged for effective teams.
  • Use an agile approach: Don't expect to hit a home-run in your first at bat for integrating data analytics into marketing campaigns. Instead start small, fail fast, track progress and iterate.

Talk Highlights:

The following are some of the most memorable talks.

  • Kirstine Stewart from Twitter discussed their TV platform and how brands can deliver timely content to customers based on their tweets in the moment. A number of targeted ad videos were shown including a campaign with Target and Justin Timberlake.
  • Michael Wong from RBC discussed RBC's 19 year information management journey with specific details on technologies used. He presented several examples of actionable insights from call centre data analysis to improve client care.
  • Richard Boire from the Boire Filler Group discussed the data discovery journey and presented an in depth case study from a North American movie theatre chain with an existing loyalty program. His customer segmentation analysis was well presented.
  • Ann Cavoukian, OIPC of Ontario, advocated a paradigm shift to privacy by design (where settings default to high privacy with incremental opt-ins as trust is built) with strong arguments that privacy is good for business with a real payoff.
  • Jean-Paul Isson from Monster Worldwide shared many anecdotes of actionable analytics from HR, politics, healthcare, and Hollywood. He has written a book, Win with Advanced Business Analytics, which is now on my to-read list.

I enjoyed conversations with QlikView (great demo showing quick analytics on the fly), Return Path (email campaigns are still relevant and thriving), Canada Post (offering analytics for successful mail campaigns), IBM (interesting case studies), Kijiji (with the most enticing booth offering espresso coffees - also offering analytics services with trusted partnerships), and EQ Works (ad tech innovations with real-time targeting using social media scoring).

Bio: Elizabeth LamElizabeth Lam is a Data Scientist with professional analytics experience in the financial and healthcare industries. She is an experienced researcher and a PhD Candidate in Computer Science at the University of Toronto. She is currently focused on machine learning, high performance computing, numerical analysis, and mobile devices. She is an active member of the tech scene and can be reached at lam.elizabeth@mail.com.