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Data marketing: people and process as NB as tech

Every marketer today knows that their biggest challenge is delivering the right message to the right person at the right time and on the right channel, but to succeed in this, marketers need to put in place processes, systems and data sources, writes RICHARD MULLINS, director for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Acceleration.



Yet a global Wunderman study with research partner Penn Schoen Berland illustrates the yawning gap between this aspiration and the reality for most brands. While 99% of marketers agreed that data is critical to achieve success, 68% admitted that they are unable to use their data to create relevant messages.

While most brands know that they need to build unique audience profiles to identify their most valuable customer segments—and leverage them across channels—practical implementation remains a significant challenge. Fragmented organisational structures, processes and data are the biggest obstacles to success.  This was clearly evident when research done by Wunderman indicated that 73% of respondents had confirmed that their companies are siloed.

This is a major concern in a world where customers interact with brands across numerous channels and touchpoints—search, display ads, social, contact centres, physical branches, mobile apps, ecommerce sites, and more. With data residing in siloes, integrating it and get a complete picture of the customer is a big ask.

Even when organisations can pull data from multiple channels and systems into a comprehensive view of the audience for granular segmentation, finding and operationalising insights from an overwhelming volume of data can be difficult. The result is that many organisations and marketers are today grappling with the following challenges:

  • Less than optimal return on investment from marketing spend: Because they are not able to track customers and segments across channels in a consistent manner, many brands do not have the data and insight they need to optimise their marketing spending.
  • Difficulty identifying the best customers: Without a way to track customers across channels and understand their engagement and interaction with the business, marketers struggle to identify the best prospects and customers for segmentation.
  • Inconsistent customer experiences: Lacking a unified view of the customer, the brand delivers fragmented and inconsistent messages to the same customer across different channels.

Changing this picture demands investment in the right systems, technical architecture and processes. But it really all starts with people. The organisation should look at its structure, and seek to move beyond silos, products and channels. Today, technology has enabled us to organise in a completely different way: around real human needs.

We have the ability to give people what they want when they want it most. The technology exists to combine in-house, customer-level data with third-party data to create audience segments based on a variety of traits and behaviours. Marketers can use these segments to for advanced, multichannel segmentation and targeting.

But first, the organisation needs to share data from as many sources as possible: customer, relationship management, offline and online marketing, merchandising, point of sale, and more, to paint a complete picture of the customer. That requires new thinking, new structures, and new strategies—all of them human-centric and future-ready.


Rugby fan experience transformed by digital platform



The South African Rugby Federation has embraced digitalisation as a key enabler of its strategic aspirations. It has worked with Accenture to transform fan engagement for Springbok supporters with the launch of a digital fan platform.

“Digital technology and social media have transformed how modern fans watch, support and engage with their favourite teams,” says SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. “To maintain our relevance amid this new market dynamic, and grow our fan base, we’ve acknowledged the vital need to digitally transform our organisation.”

Wayne Hull, managing director for Accenture Digital in Africa, says: “SA Rugby’s ambition to pivot to a more fan-centric strategy requires digital design, content, platforms and insights because modern consumers, including loyal Springbok supporters, engage predominantly via mobile digital channels and expect hyper-personalised experiences.”

Accenture Digital’s development process started with quantitative and qualitative research, which informed the user experience (UX) design guidelines and content strategy for the digital fan engagement platform.

“To know what fans want, we needed to understand the fans themselves,” says Hull. “The Accenture Digital team mined the research data and identified multiple fan ‘personas’, which all have different content consumption, platform functionality and engagement preferences.”

The platform development team focused on three critical elements to meet these requirements – the customer experience (CX), the engagement engine and cloud-based deployment.

“To deliver a memorable and engaging CX, Accenture Digital leveraged leading digital experience software,” says Hull. “The result is a fully integrated and responsive platform that creates seamless, personalised digital fan experiences across SA Rugby’s content, commerce and digital marketing initiatives in a manner that makes fans feel recognised and connected to the players and the game.”

The new platform will serve as the first point of call for any rugby fan who wants to get their data fix with exclusive statistics, analytics and insights. The platform’s content style will include more visual elements – videos and images – with more concise articles that are easier to digest, in accordance with evolving content consumption preferences on mobile screens. This will complement long-form thought leadership and insight pieces. 

In addition, fans will enjoy exclusive access to player-related content, such as behind-the-scenes footage and game and training performance stats. SA Rugby will also benefit from the ability to track comments and mentions via the Sitecore analytics platform Accenture Digital implemented, to respond and engage in the conversations Springbok fans are having on social media about the game, the teams or the players.

To do this, SA Rugby required a consolidated view of the customer. However, data resided in disparate sites across ticketing providers and SA Rugby’s e-commerce and online magazine databases. This information will be consolidated into the CRM system, with multiple integration points available to leverage this data.

The CRM system’s functionality will help to reveal insights such as fan communication preferences and their likes and dislikes, which will place hyper-relevance at the core of SA Rugby’s fan experience and engagement strategy.

 The final element in the platform development was cloud deployment, which allows fans to access the platform from any device that has an internet connection. The platform is hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment, which is stable, secure and fully redundant. It gives SA Rugby the flexibility to manage the platform themselves, with the option to integrate or scale additional functionality down the line.

Based on the outcome, Hull believes that Accenture Digital has successfully reimagined, built and delivered a world-class, modern and mobile-friendly digital fan platform that creates a fun, immersive and engaging experience for fans.

“It’s a major step towards helping SA Rugby realise its ambition to become a fan-centric, forward-looking and nimble organisation, and we look forward to building and developing the platform further with the team as their digital fan engagement requirements evolve,” says Hull

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Power woes boost online search for surge protectors, UPS



Rolling blackouts are becoming a reality. Fluctuations in power can wreak havoc on your appliances and cause permanent damage – that is often not covered by insurance.

According to Gumtree Marketing Manager, Estelle Nagel, searches for UPS devices and surge protectors have spiked. “Clearly customers have accepted that we’ll experience more load shedding in the weeks to come, and we should prepare for the “new normal”.”

When the power supply cuts out, electrical equipment turns off but many smart devices have micro-processors that require correct shut down (much like a PC). This could result in catastrophic internal hardware failures. There’s also the risk of a power spike or surge when power is restored that can damage electronics.  “If you own an expensive smart TV or fridge, the R250-R2000 investment you’ll make protecting that device is well worth it,” says Nagel.

Surge protectors

You can find surge protectors online or at any electronics store. These devices monitor the flow of electricity that reaches your appliances and can either link to a single appliance or connect to your main electrical panel at home. This acts as a buffer between the socket and the appliance that directs surges in power away from your electronics. “We don’t recommend buying these secondhand as they can only absorb so much damage before they need to be replaced. The lifespan of a surge protector is measured in joules – the more joules, the better.”

Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

A UPS is a device with a battery back-up system that can supply power to your device for a matter of minutes or hours. Even if your UPS only keeps you running for a few minutes, it will buy you enough time to power down devices safely. “It’s a good idea to get a UPS for your router at the office – that way, if nothing else, you will still have Internet connectivity.”

Unplug your devices

If you are able to, keep your computer cables, telephone cables linked to modems and other sensitive equipment unplugged during load shedding.

Back-up batteries or solar power

Security systems are often compromised during load shedding. Opt for solar security lights or back-up battery systems for electric gates and fencing to make sure your home stays protected during black-outs.

“Load shedding is going to impact everyone – being prepared is key. There are plenty of cheap and effective measures you can take to minimise or prevent damage to your electronics,” says Nagel.

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