Interview with Itay Levy, founder of Tel-Aviv-based start-up Appoxee and currently Managing Director, Mobile Center of Excellence at Teradata Applications, on the sidelines of the Teradata Connect 2015 conference which took place in London on 9-10 June. He looks at the reasons why it is often difficult to draw on Big Data for marketing purposes, stresses the importance of mobile, and points out the challenges of using the mobile channel for customer engagement.
L’Atelier: Why have marketing departments been so slow when it comes to data management?
Itay Levy: Well, it’s a combination of factors. First of all, the people currently working in marketing departments don’t always have the expertise to handle the volumes of data coming in from customers nowadays. And although this might seem an easy thing to do when you’re standing outside a company, as a developer I can assure you that it’s very important to know exactly what you’re doing when you start to process data!
To do so you need to have the right tools. For example, it’s essential to think upfront about the data format and where it’s going to be sent once you’ve collected it. Apart from that, difficulties may arise from the fact that data is drawn from different sources. How do I know that I’m not sending the same message to a customer by both SMS and email?
But it’s also a question of mindset – of not being afraid to try things out, to experiment. Sometimes decision-makers are much older than the public they’re trying to communicate with. These managers need to take on board new ways of working with digital and learn to make use of smart analysis tools. These days it’s crucial for a marketer to have a place where all the data on a given customer can be brought together so that s/he can see which channel is the most appropriate for getting in touch with that customer.
Does a brand have any choice about whether to go mobile these days, or has it become a must?
Yes, organisations do need to get into mobile territory. Nowadays a mobile device is more powerful than an office computer. That’s a fact. It’s no longer enough just for a brand to be accessible via a mobile browser because the mobile channel isn’t only useful for increasing the number of customer touchpoints. It also helps in collecting data, i.e. gathering lots of information on users. And what’s the aim of collecting all this data? To be able to send messages to the user at just the right moment. Timing is crucial now that there are so many apps, screens, and so on.
When people are on a mobile device, you can’t just regard them as visitors as they are on the Web. They’re now users, and therefore customers or potential customers.
Moreover, the user experience is far more pleasant on mobile. From a sales point of view, when people go onto a website via their computer, they’re just visitors. You’ve done nothing to get them to come on to your site. With a mobile device on the other hand, you have the power to attract them in some way. After all, you’re in their pocket! You can’t just regard them as visitors as they are on the Web. They’re now users, and therefore customers or potential customers.
What information are we able to aggregate today? And what will we be able to do tomorrow?
Nowadays we can collect all the data coming from CRM [Customer Relationship Management] tools, location data, online and offline purchasing history, the browsing path through a website and the various ways in which the user interacts with an app, to give just a few examples. In a few years’ time, with the Internet of Things, we’ll be able to collect even more information on the user – where s/he parks the car, how many kilometres s/he has on the clock, how s/he feels today, etc. However, everything will depend on the user being willing to share data with the company.
Does a push notification drive engagement?
Well, there are types of push notifications that use buttons or banners so the user doesn’t have to unlock his/her smartphone and go into the app to look at the information. It’s right there in the notification, which therefore becomes a value creator. Used properly in this way, a push notification becomes a powerful tool for the company; it both carries key messages and makes a call to action.
If a mobile notification creates real added value and is sent to the user at just the right moment, it becomes a powerful tool for marketers, a call to action.