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the existing marketing database automatically. “Many have built new silos to deal with social,” says Martin Smith, Neolane’s UK Head of Marketing. “The biggest challenge is making social part of an overarching strategy. All the information should be available through all channels at all times.”


Of course, development is far from confined to social media. A key area for Neolane is in applying intelligent personalisation – or “offer management” – to marketing messages within transactional messages. Smith claims that sending relevant offers to recent purchasers via order confirmation emails and the like has delivered some startling results. “Some campaigns are seeing 60 to 70% conversion,” he says. “It’s definitely a growth area in 2012 for us.” Smith also observes a renewed interest in location-based marketing, driven largely by social media and mobile messaging, otherwise known these days as Social Local Mobile (or SoLoMo for short).


“A lot of people are using smartphones as their main messaging platform now. A client is using this channel to push out messaging via iOS 5 and Android, and it’s working very well.” Integrating applications with IP messaging gateways is also a current area of interest for


Apteco. “Our analytic engine can drive IP messaging to various devices through channels like Apple’s iMessenger and Facebook,” notes Managing Director James Alty. But though sophisticated new features make headlines, the reality is that most companies still struggle with the fundamentals of data-driven marketing. “People talk about social media integration, but what they really work on are very basic digital marketing programmes,” says Alty.


“The features most in demand are around data


discovery and data visualisation:


marketers need tools to better understand what’s happening.” Martin Smith, UK Head of Marketing, Neolane


At Apteco, making the basics work better translates to building links to more email and response handling applications from its PeopleStage and FastStats packages, and applying automation to reporting to enable swift and simple interpretation. “Using automated reporting means we can


do things like quickly identify where the best results within multiple tests are,” explains Alty. “Users don’t have wade through pages of reports, they can see at a glance where the hotspots are.”


In fact, all vendors report clients remain largely focused on areas like enhanced reporting, usability and application integration rather than the bleeding edge of software development. “Functionality is still far ahead of clients’ real needs,” says Davis. “We’re working on data quality tools, streamlining integration with email and social media, and improving real-time reporting. Triggered marketing is something we have a lot of experience in and it’s a simple add- on for existing clients.”


DATA VISUALISATION KEY “The features that seem to be most in demand are around data discovery and data visualisation,” agrees Smith. “Direct marketers are flooded with data and need tools to better understand what’s happening within various customer cells, and how customers are behaving across channels.” Simplifying interfaces and offering collaboration tools maximise ease of use, and means that staff can get the most out of their company’s software investment. For example, Clicksquared is developing a


Unifying business


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February 2012 35


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