10 Crucial Questions
to Ask Yourself When Considering
a Marketing Intelligence Platform
Marketing experts have long recognized the importance of customer insights to
their strategic and tactical decision-making. As the availability and diversity of
customer information and analytics increases, many marketing leaders position
customer profiling and data at the center of their decision-making. According to a
McKinsey, AMA, and Duke-sponsored 2012 CMO “Highlights and Insights” survey
of more than 3,000 leading marketers, the percentage of total marketing spend
devoted to analytics is expected to grow by almost 70% over the next three years.
Source: CMOSurvey.org August 2012 “Highlights and Insights”
Leading pundits have predicted a new era of marketing intelligence – one in
which deep customer insight drives revolutionary improvement in marketing
effectiveness, ROI, and customer lifetime value.
Unfortunately, these sunny prognostications don’t reflect the reality within most
marketing organizations. The same survey of top marketers found that while
interest and spending on data and analytics is expected to continue growing
rapidly, 65% of marketing project decisions are still being made without
the aid of marketing analytics.
Source: CMOSurvey.org August 2012 “Highlights and Insights”
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that less than 8% of the surveyed marketers
reported that marketing analytics contribute “very highly” to their companies’
There is a clear gap between the promise of empowerment via marketing
intelligence and the world in which most marketers must operate. This gap
results in large part because of the following factors:
■ Multiple Data Sets: Most marketers still contend with multiple data sets –
one for store transactions, one for the email program, one for social, etc.
■ Cumbersome Tools: Many analytics tools are very difficult to use – and
require the involvement of the IT department.
■ Past-Focused Results: The vast majority of analytics tools are focused on
the past – on discerning what has happened and positing why. Only a few
tools accurately predict future behavior, and fewer still combine predictive
insight with prescriptive recommendations.
■ Lack of Functionality: Many so-called “marketing intelligence” platforms
came from developers outside the marketing industry, so their tools fail to
address marketers’ needs.
The essential elements of a robust marketing platform can be difficult to
pinpoint as data management, and predictive and prescriptive analytics are
highly specialized, technical disciplines.
There exists a clear gap
between the promise
of empowerment via
marketing intelligence &
the world in which most
marketers must operate.
Defining “Marketing Intelligence”
“Marketing intelligence” describes the information necessary to plan and
deliver a truly customer-centered marketing program. The tool(s) used to
help deliver marketing intelligence to brand leaders are part of the
marketing intelligence platform.
True marketing intelligence empowers a five-component value chain
that begins with a 360o
customer view and ends with improved ROI and
customer lifetime value.
■ A highly accurate, holistic view of the customer and her behavior empowers…
■ Fact-based customer segmentation that informs…
■ Predictive and prescriptive consumer insight that enables…
■ Enhanced effectiveness of marketing tools and tactics that results in…
■ Improved marketing ROI and customer lifetime value.
In order to gain maximum value from the investment, a company should select
the platform that best aligns the marketing intelligence chain with their internal
business objectives. ROI will benefit the most when each stage of the value chain
fully delivers on its promise.
Ten Questions Crucial to a Marketing Intelligence Platform
To optimize marketing intelligence tools and data, a company can either build
their own platform or purchase a third party solution. For a highly select set of
companies with extremely stringent internal system requirements (for example,
government agencies and financial institutions), a homegrown, custom solution
might be necessary. But for most organizations, implementing a third party
marketing intelligence platform will be the best approach. Further, until recently,
these solutions were all on-premise – today, cloud-based selections deliver all
the benefits without the infrastructure burden.
While every company has unique requirements, most marketers will find
useful the following list:
■ Will the platform consolidate all marketing data sets (email, campaign,
web analytics, etc.)?
■ Can the platform clean and standardize the combined data and ensure
■ Can it deliver an accurate, fact-based segmentation based upon a
long-term view of the customer?
describes the information
necessary to plan and
deliver a truly customer-
For most companies, using
a third party marketing
makes more sense.
■ Can the platform evolve that segmentation over time to reflect changes
in actual behavior?
■ Will it drive predictive behavioral insights?
■ Does the platform make concrete prescriptive recommendations to
drive better decisions?
■ Is it a flexible platform that enhances the effectiveness of existing
marketing tools and solutions?
■ Is the platform easily usable for BOTH marketing generalists and
■ Is it a cloud-based solution versus an on-premise software offering?
■ Are there strong references that can report tangible benefits?
1. Will the platform consolidate all marketing data sets?
Job number one of any marketing intelligence platform is to deliver a 360o
customer view. To do so, it must draw all of the customer data into a single
environment – only by consolidating their information can companies truly
understand consumer behavior and determine how various marketing tactics
contribute to a sale.
Most organizations have many marketing data sets to aggregate, which may
include email, web analytics, e-store, call center, campaign, product history,
brand strength, personas, and ad interaction data, to name just a few.
A company should initially define all of their available customer data sets, and
ensure that the platform can aggregate ALL of them into a single customer view.
Not some. Not most. All. Because if the data are worth collecting, they should
be a part of the overall 360o
2. Can the platform clean and standardize the combined data
and ensure its integrity?
Accurate customer analysis demands accurate marketing data. When aggregating
customer data from multiple sources, there are bound to be inconsistencies.
Redundancies, invalid entries, and outdated information in data will lead to
skewed results and less effective decision-making. Cleaning and standardizing
customer data will improve the quality of analysis and ultimately, the efficacy
Make sure that the platform can:
■ Clean all data files, removing old, incorrect, and invalid records
■ De-Dupe files so as to maximize actionable insight
■ Standardize names and addresses across data sources
■ Correct misspelled and outdated records
■ Collect or “Household” records according to specific business rules
■ Enhance customer profiles with third-party data where desired
Comprehensive, clean, and accurate customer data can create the precise,
customer view central to the marketing intelligence value chain.
Job number one of a
platform is to deliver a
customer view. It
must pull all customer
data into a single
3. Can it deliver an accurate, fact-based segmentation based
upon a long-term view of the customer?
A combined data warehouse is essential for marketing intelligence, but intelligent
marketing demands more. A platform needs to have the tools and mathematics to
deliver fact-based behavioral segmentation. Further, that segmentation needs to
be based on more than a moment-in-time or short-term behavioral observation.
Segmentation has long helped marketers understand their customers and
meet their needs. But current, fact-based customer segmentation represents
a quantum leap from the generally crude, hunch- and self-reported-behavior
segmentation approaches on which most marketers currently rely.
The right tool should empower with a comprehensive customer segmentation
based on both the customer’s most recent behaviors as well as long-term
patterns. Establishing this segmentation will inform accurate marketing
decisions, and ultimately, increased ROI and lasting value.
4. Can the platform evolve that segmentation over time to
reflect changes in customer behaviors?
Where 20 years ago a company could rely upon the same informed segmentation
approach for many years, the challenges of today’s economy and the advent
of digital everything are upending customer behavior at a remarkable pace.
Companies that want to stay abreast of consumer trends and expanding
market spaces need updated, reliable segmentation that can keep the pace.
Rather than relying upon a static view of customer segments, a platform should
utilize the most current available data to evaluate segments based on the latest
observed behaviors. By dynamically refining customer segments, a marketing
platform can help a company take the actions that are most likely to motivate
purchase and loyalty in the ever-changing consumer environment.
5. Will it drive predictive behavioral insights?
Countless surveys and studies confirm that most marketing analytics are
focused on past behaviors. While understanding “what’s worked” has value,
informed guidance on what to do next can give marketers a crucial advantage.
On its most elemental level, predictive behavioral insight relates to propensity
modeling and natural clustering of likely “next behaviors.” A platform’s
predictive data should help answer questions such as:
■ What is the likelihood that a given customer or prospect will buy now?
■ When is it most likely that a customer or prospect will buy next?
■ Which item(s) are they likely to be the most interested in for their
Companies should look carefully at a platform’s methodology for this feature,
as a high degree of predictive accuracy is absolutely essential to deriving
maximum value from marketing intelligence.
The right tool should
empower with a
segmentation based on
both the customer’s most
recent behaviors as well as
By dynamically refining
customer segments, a
marketing platform can
help a company take the
actions that are most likely
to motivate purchase and
loyalty in the ever-changing
6. Does the platform make concrete prescriptive
recommendations to drive better decisions?
Predictive behavioral insights are one of the most significant benefits of a
marketing intelligence platform. The ability to gauge with some accuracy
where to focus marketing resources and efforts can greatly increase the
overall efficiency and value of strategic initiatives.
However, some platforms even go beyond predictive analysis to provide
prescriptive insights. Rather than merely providing predictive data, these
platforms recommend actions as well as define the actions’ likely sales and
profit impact. Delivering this data can help companies act more quickly and
efficiently on crucial market information.
Prescriptive recommendations close the value loop; they connect predictive
analyses to concrete ways to capitalize on them. They make it much easier
to realize the value of marketing intelligence, and they can improve speed to
action by providing informed options to evaluate.
Prescriptive recommendations help define best-choice decisions on many
■ Marketing resource allocation by platform
■ Recommended spending by customer segment
■ Optimized offer target, size, and structure
■ User tagging by segment
■ Timing and frequency of marketing communications
7. Is it a flexible platform that enhances the effectiveness
of existing marketing tools and solutions?
Most organizations already have tools to provide email delivery, a CRM
experience, web analytics, a secure purchase process, and more. Companies
invest enormous resources in setting up, managing, and training for such tools –
a process that can take people years of IT time, hiring of experts in these
platforms, and large training budgets.
The right marketing intelligence platform will improve the effectiveness of
tools already in use, not try to replace them. It should enhance the value of the
investment in those tools.
On the same front, selecting a marketing intelligence platform also facilitates
standardization of internal information, provided the platform is sufficiently
accommodating. A company should aim to make all information consumable
by the platform itself, as well as by any internal and third party applications.
dations close the value loop;
they connect predictive
analyses to concrete ways
to capitalize on them.
The right marketing
should enhance the value of
existing marketing tools.
For example, a platform that empowers Salesforce instances with comprehensive
data, predictions, and prescriptions can drive optimized performance for both
high volume marketers AND selling organizations. This helps empower business
across functional areas and brings an end to departmental information silos.
Some platforms try to replace existing tactical toolsets while others work with
some tools but not all. Companies stand to benefit most from a solution designed
to work with – at a minimum – every tool the company utilizes. Further, the
flexibility to work with virtually any tool allows companies to refine their toolsets
over time without obfuscating their data.
8. Is the platform easily usable for BOTH marketing
generalists and tactical specialists?
The potential output of a marketing intelligence solution is important, but
great usability is arguably just as critical. Many organizations have expensive
resources – such as intranets, internal social software, CRM platforms, and sales
management tools – that are barely used. A primary cause of this lost potential
is that the platforms themselves are cumbersome, complicated, and don’t
integrate or work cohesively.
More people are willing to use a tool that offers an intuitive and user-friendly
front-end experience. When a platform makes it relatively easy to base informed
decisions upon real analytics, people are much less likely to opt for “flying blind.”
When considering usability, a company should consider the needs of both
marketing generalists and tactical specialists. The marketing generalist –
a CMO, VP, Director of Marketing, or Brand Manager – needs macro-level
perspective along with the opportunity to drill down. By contrast, the tactical
specialist probably needs a great deal more “micro” granularity from a tool.
When analyzing the interface for a diverse range of users, one should consider:
■ Is the interface well defined, easy to use, and flexible?
■ Does it offer data visualization to help surface important insights?
■ Are the tools to isolate segments easy to use?
■ Can it drill down into data according to user-set parameters?
■ Does it enable both moment in time analysis and trending?
Additionally, companies should be wary of screenshots -- many platforms create
dummy demo environments that make their products look more developed than
they actually are.
9. Is it a cloud-based solution versus an on-premise software?
There are a few companies that may need to use an on-premise software solution
for internal reasons, but for the VAST majority of companies and marketing
organizations, cloud-based platforms offer many compelling advantages:
■ Simple and rapid deployment with minimal IT team involvement
■ Annuity-based subscription payment model that reduces initial cost outlays,
spreading the cost out more affordably
■ Automatic software updates provide increased security and allow companies
to capitalize on the newest features of the software as soon as they become
When evaluating solutions, companies should look for cloud-based offerings
unless there are VERY strict internal prohibitions against web-based data services.
Not all such platforms offer the same level of security so companies should ensure
that a cloud solution meets or exceeds company security standards.
10. Are there strong references that can report tangible
One of the best indicators that a solution will work for a particular company is its
efficacy in similar, real-world situations. Marketing intelligence platforms are so
integral to the future of marketing effectiveness that it makes sense for people
to do the research before selecting a platform. Smart companies will go beyond
examining the vendor’s track record and client list to speak with several levels of
user, or request a demo of references’ deployments. For some companies, an ROI
calculation will provide confirmation, or at least assurance, of potential value.
Marketing intelligence plays an essential part of marketing’s future and the right
platform can unlock its full potential. Getting through the pre-sales hype is crucial
to selecting the platform that will be most valuable to a business. A rational
evaluation approach and methodical execution will help businesses derive the
most value from their investment.
We hope this white paper assists companies in making this complicated purchase.
As with any business decision, knowing what questions to ask can make the
process less difficult and uncertain.
One of the best indicators
that a solution will work for
a particular business is its
efficacy in similar, real-
Retail marketing leaders founded AgilOne out of a need for better analytical
tools that could handle data from disparate sources – an ever-growing problem
in the world of mobile, social, and multi-channel marketing.
AgilOne’s thesis states that the companies who can effectively understand,
process and take value from their data gain a sizable competitive advantage.
However, the amount of data, number of internal and external sources, and
the real-time nature of the data can be more complex than the capabilities
of internal tools that analyze it. AgilOne addresses this challenge.
AgilOne provides cloud-based predictive marketing intelligence to help
companies maximize the effectivess of marketing spend. These tools increase
customer lifetime value by helping marketers understand behavior across all
channels and use this intelligence to make marketing more effective.
AgilOne’s strength and approach come from deep experience and domain
expertise with strategy consulting firms such as McKinsey & Company, advanced
degrees in analytical disciplines, and executive marketing roles at leading
retailers including Best Buy, Salesforce.com, and Omniture.
For more information about AgilOne, contact the company at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (877) 769-3047
1091 N Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043