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Data Maturity Roadmap Tier 1: Injecting Live Data into Messaging Workflows

It’s not a great place to be. Looking up at the top of the mountain — the ideal state of full data maturity — can seem like it’s so far away. It’s easy to think you’ll never get there, so it’s not worth the disruption to try.

But that’s why we came up with the Data Maturity Roadmap. This is the “crawl, walk, run” of data maturity, a step-by-step path to get enterprise marketing teams from a struggling but aspiring data operation to confidently owning the full scope of their data across the organization.

So, let’s begin by talking about where it all starts:

Data friction frustration

We’re going to take a walk through this journey with Anna, an enterprise marketing professional who’s just beginning the process of getting to data maturity. At the beginning of this journey, she’s seeing a number of issues stemming from her data’s lack of organization and accessibility.

She has limited access to customer data for personalization purposes because the I.T. team considers a lot of it to be personal identifiable information (PII), her marketing platform is taking forever to fill the ticket to add the new data fields, and it lives in a database she doesn’t have permission to use. Going from here, that personalization data only syncs periodically with her ESP, so abandoned-cart emails take about 48 hours to send. Then, when data feeds break — which isn’t all that infrequent — the entire email program could be shut down for a day or two. To top it all off, her ESP is still gobbling up a huge percentage of her team’s annual budget.

But what we see in a lot of cases is that there’s a sense of inevitability about it all, as if this is just the way messaging works at the enterprise level. And if everyone’s experiencing the same issues, it’s merely a problem without a solution.  Anna doesn’t even realize how “stuck” she and her team are. So, when we begin, she doesn’t think a solution exists because she doesn’t fully realize she has a problem. And she figures that, even if there were a tool that could help, the marketing team is too busy with daily operational tasks to devote the time it would take to make meaningful change.

Taking those first steps isn’t nearly as difficult as she and her team thinks, though. Here are some small things she can do in the short term, and how MessageGears helps:

Crawl before you walk

As Anna begins her journey toward data maturity, there’s no need to make any massive changes to what she’s doing, or how her data is organized. What she wants to do is start putting live data to use, injecting it into her messaging workflows to generate improved customer interactions with her brand. And doing this isn’t nearly as heavy a lift as she might think.

She’s sending messages and activations through her CDP or third-party solution today, and that’s one place to start. Right now, she’s copying the data she needs into the tool, then building and exporting her audience from there. All the while, her live data is constantly changing as customers interact with her brand, and that means that the audience she built is becoming less relevant to her messaging with each passing moment.

By using MessageGears Segment for third-party audience activation with Facebook, Google, or a data-connectivity platform like LiveRamp, she can eliminate this problem. When she plugs MessageGears Segment directly into her company’s database, she can build her audiences right there, using live, real-time data as she receives it. Because she’s using the data dynamically as it sits — rather than a stale copy of it in her ESP — and because MessageGears has no prescribed schema, she’s able to build these audiences based upon any audience attribute her company has collected without any of that data leaving the safety of her firewall. It’s also a lower-risk operation because she’s doing everything within a single workflow rather than her entire activation set.

Once she activates those audiences in her third-party platform, she can then target advertisements to her audience of choice, ensuring they see highly personalized campaigns with either one-time or scheduled blasts. And all of this is sent through MessageGears Segment with her live, real-time data, not via a CDP that may not integrate with her database.

Another challenge we often see for marketers at this stage is within abandoned cart campaigns. When Anna runs these off of her copied data in her ESP, the lag can render these campaigns virtually useless. One of our customers — a top-10 U.S. retail store — had to wait 24 hours for any abandoned cart email to go out because Salesforce had to sync all purchase data, and people were often sent offers for items they had already purchased. That meant an otherwise-great campaign to draw potential customers back to the site for conversion became a poor customer experience and often missed the window when they may have bought. You’ve likely seen similar results with your abandoned cart program, just like Anna has.

With MessageGears Message, an easy step to take is to start sending transactional use cases instantly — at whatever interval your team deems most appropriate and impactful — rather than waiting a day or two to sync with the data copy in your ESP. Now, using their live data, that top-10 retail customer’s messages are sent instantly or not sent at all, greatly improving the customer experience and enhancing loyalty. With MessageGears Message, Anna can pinpoint the amount of time that will maximize her conversion rate, and it’s simple to set up because of the direct data connection — no data syncs. Ever.

When marketers have data scattered all over the place, it’s common to hear that they’d like to do more personalization with their emails, but they’re just not ready as an organization. That’s the challenge Anna is facing right now. She looks at an innovative render-on-open personalization tool like Movable Ink and thinks how fun it’d be to put it to use, but she can’t see how she’d ever get her data in a place where it would happen. To work in the way it should, tools like Movable Ink need their API calls to reach her data in a centralized location, and she’s a long way from that.

That’s one place where MessageGears Engage can really shine, powering personalized images and other information in your email using real-time data. Because MessageGears Engage provides an always-available, highly performant cache of live data — updated at whatever interval makes the most sense for you — Anna is able to put even widely scattered data to use with whomever can hit that cache with an unlimited number of API calls.

A tool like Movable Ink works perfectly with this, whereas they have trouble getting access to much of Anna’s data when she has the massive amounts associated with most enterprise organizations. Putting that data in MessageGears Engage gives Movable Ink direct API access, allowing them to help Anna better personalize her emails with their render-on-open technology. So whenever a reader opens her email, they can see up-to-the minute sale pricing, item recommendations with images, and loyalty point figures. With the direct data connection, these first steps become incredibly simple to execute.

So, with a few simple steps, Anna has gone from very basic, frustrating data utilization to a more sophisticated data operation. She’s conducting third-party activation using her live data, sending timely abandoned cart emails, and using Movable Ink to personalize emails with highly relevant recommendations and images that update in real time and render on open.

Now that she’s started to put her live data to use and gained a fuller understanding of how data helps her create better customer experiences, Anna is ready to take the next step on her path to data maturity, where she’ll get a chance to orchestrate customer journeys with a unified view of the customer.

About the Author

Jeff Haws

As MessageGears’ Senior Marketing Manager, Jeff is focused producing engaging and thoughtful content that resonates with enterprise marketers, helping them to better understand how MessageGears makes their jobs easier. He’s passionate about understanding the way data impacts messaging, and he’s also hopelessly obsessed with baseball.