I've been involved for a long time with using data to making marketing relevant. About three years ago I co-founded a startup which helps companies to build their in-house marketing capability. The company is called CME Connect and you can read more about it at http://www.cmeconnect.com. In this post I'd like to talk about why I made this decision and why I decided to concentrate on improving in-house marketing capabilities.
I care very deeply about making marketing data-driven. I believe that the majority of marketers worldwide make decisions based on their intuition rather than facts. As a result, customers are bombarded by millions of essentially irrelevant messages. The only reason marketers have got away with this is that customers do not have access to sophisticated filtering.
This is slowly changing. Google Inbox automatically analyses what you open and will only put messages in your inbox if it thinks you're going to open them. Others get relegated to the promotions subfolder that rarely gets read. I believe that within five years time, we will all have personal assistants like 'Siri', 'Cortana', 'Echo' and 'Ok Google' that filter out marketing material as effectively as spam has been eliminated.
Permission marketing simply won't be relevant any more. Only relevant messages will be allowed through regardless of 'permission'. I believe the primary way that brands will achieve relevance is by using data to understand what their customers want to know about. Therefore I really want to help brands do exactly this.
The other big point of difference is that CME Connect helps you build your in-house marketing capability. We are not walking around saying "give us your problems and we'll take them away". My belief is that taking problems away is just too expensive. I believe that using data to drive decisions is a fundamental change in behaviour, not a project. Therefore outsourcing to an agency like Datamine or Affinity is the wrong approach for most brands because they can't to afford permanently outsource everything.
I have no problem with the services that Datamine or Affinity offer. In fact I think they do a pretty good job, unlike most marketing agencies (Saachi, Aim Proximity, DraftFCB, ...) which pretend to know data but actually have just employed a couple analysts without changing their business practices. Don't get me wrong, most agencies are far better at advertising than me, but their data analytics really sucks.
That brings me back to insourcing. I simply don't have time to look after everyone's marketing, and even if I could employ and train enough people, I believe the outsourcing model does not change business processes sufficiently. Therefore I believe the right approach is to raise the bar by helping everyone deliver better data-driven marketing.
In conclusion, I believe the world of the near future will be dominated by artificially intelligent personal assistants that carefully analyse all inbound messages on behalf of each person. I believe that the only brands that will survive in this new world are those that use artificial intelligence to understand what each of their customers wants, and that I can make more of a difference by providing products and services to many companies than I could by helping a couple brand that can afford to pay for my expertise.