This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of CUSTOMER Magazine.
Facebook (News - Alert) earlier this year announced that it now allows individual users the ability to do social search on Open Graph information. Open Graph is all the information Facebook collects on the people who use its social networking site; that can include personal information like a name or an e-mail, and/or the user interests, with whom a person is connected, brands he or she “likes”, and even pictures posted.
As a result, a Facebook user who wants to take a trip to New York can easily identify friends who have been to the Big Apple (News - Alert), read their comments about NYC, and even check out photos they took while they were there.
What Kristin Hambelton, vice president of marketing at Neolane, says is even more interesting is harnessing the power of Open Graph to enable brands to deliver targeted messages to individuals who choose to opt in and receive such messages.
Brands using the Neolane solution can capture all the social graph information of an individual user, merge that data with other information -- such as the e-mail behavior of the individual relative to particular offers, past purchasing selections, or even just what he or she put in an electronic shopping cart before abandoning it. Neolane’s software as a service solution puts all that data into a single profile and then helps brands automate the creation of various offers, or catalogs, based on the profile data collected.
“Each month through Facebook applications, 25 million people share their music preferences, 16 million share videos they have viewed, and 30 million share the articles they have read. However, many marketers are still unable to integrate this data into their existing marketing systems to improve customer communications,” said Stephane Dehoche, president and CEO at Neolane. “This customer and prospect data is a tremendous, untapped asset that marketers can’t afford to ignore. By collecting users’ actions through Open Graph, Neolane allows marketers to utilize this real-time information to deliver personalized cross-channel experiences that increase sales and build loyalty.”
That can be huge competitive advantage for brands, says Hambelton.
For example, a women’s apparel retailer might decide to present its gold-level offer to anyone has been in database three years, spends $300 in an average transaction, and shops both in store and online, she says. And bronze- or silver-level offer could be presented to less frequent or high-spending shoppers.
Among the brands actually using the Neolane solution are Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert), Barnes & Noble, Sears Canada and Sony Music. These companies are among those on the leading edge of leveraging big data to their advantage. Meanwhile, most companies seem to be adrift in the sea of big data.
The Direct Marketing Association and Neolane recently partnered on a big data survey, the objective of which was to look the impact of big data on marketing organizations.
As predicted, the survey results showed that databases at companies are growing. More than half of the survey respondents said they are seeing annual database growth of 1 to 10 percent. Yet 60 percent of marketers surveyed either didn’t have or weren’t sure if their company had a big data strategy, Hambelton tells CUSTOMER magazine.
What’s more, 53 percent of respondents said analysis and mining of data are key challenges for marketers. So, Hambelton says, that indicates that marketers know what to do with the data, but what they’re struggling with is getting to the data and mining it.
Many consumers will undoubtedly find it helpful if the brands with which they already do business offer them targeted coupons and promotions based on their preferences. However, this writer would like to offer an editorial note here: It would be especially helpful if Amazon and other shopping destinations would filter out information related to my Christmas buying habits when they’re providing an offer at other times of year. I do buy my young nieces and nephews toys and books at Christmas. But I don’t want recommendations for items for tots during the summer, spring and autumn.
“Each month through Facebook applications, 25 million people share their music preferences, 16 million share videos they have viewed, and 30 million share the articles they have read. However, many marketers are still unable to integrate this data into their existing marketing systems to improve customer communications. This customer and prospect data is a tremendous, untapped asset that marketers can’t afford to ignore.”
-- Stephane Dehoche, president and CEO at Neolane
Edited by Stefania Viscusi