Identity

Secrets to Delighting Your Customers with Data Connectivity

November 9, 2020  |   LiveRamp

How do technology, data, and people connect to deliver exceptional customer experiences? In the inaugural episode of our “Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud” podcast, LiveRamp’s Daniella Harkins, SVP of Commercial Strategy, speaks with Michelle Dooley, Managing Director of Strategy, Safe Haven and former Director of Audience Strategy & Capabilities at Target, on the increasing pressure on businesses to deliver consumers’ heightened needs. Hear them in discussion on how data partnerships are becoming table stakes for businesses across industries, and how to make every media dollar count and create positive business outcomes. 

 


 

Transcript:

Daniella:
Hello everyone. Today, I am delighted to be joined by Michelle Dooley, LiveRamp’s Managing Director of Safe Haven Strategy, to discuss how she views the intersection of people, data, and technology, and how she’s put data connectivity to work over her career. Michelle, welcome.

Michelle:
Thank you.

Daniella:
Very excited you’re here. I think your point of view and experience is so relevant to the topic today. Can you give the listeners some insight into your experience in data and technology? I think it will be helpful to ground the discussion.

Michelle:
Sure. I’ve spent my career in data-driven marketing, and I’ve always been drawn to building businesses and using data and technology to deliver relevant messages to the right people to drive maximum performance. It’s really centered around people for me. My degree is actually in psychology, and I have this innate desire to know and understand people, how we work, and how we make decisions, which led me to a career in data-driven marketing. I spent the last nine years at Target, most recently leading their audience strategy and capabilities team, which crossed both Target brand marketing and rounded out their media business. In order to deliver on the business growth goals, it was critical that we build a strong data foundation and tech stack to enable data connectivity.

Michelle:
Michelle, it’s exciting to have you here because I think about what you’ve done. You’ve always been on the forefront of developing data-driven strategies. When we think about growth and delivering on business objectives today, we can’t ignore what’s happening and what we’re all faced with. The reality is, the speed of change due to this unprecedented pandemic exacerbated the challenges marketers were already facing. Can you talk to us about some of the trends that were triggered by the pandemic that potentially are here to stay, continuing to impact marketers?

Michelle:
Consumer behavior is changing at an unprecedented speed. We’re using delivery services for things like groceries where before the store was the hub. We’re consuming and creating content all the time, whether it’s creating content for an app, consuming content on Disney Plus or Hulu, or even just in your work life with your computer on. The idea of prime time is dead. Another post-pandemic trend that really impacts marketers is that now more than ever, every media dollar has to be accountable. Marketers are even more invested in making sure that media dollars are being spent in a smart way.

Daniella:
I feel like you just described me when you talked about content consumption and behavior changes. I now have my groceries delivered regularly and have used DoorDash more than I ever have in the past. And I think to your point, the trends will continue. We’re not going to go back in time as soon as the pandemic is over. So how do these trends reflect themselves from a marketer’s standpoint? What challenges do they then bring when marketers are trying to figure out how they’re going to drive growth in a time with a lot of uncertainty?

Michelle:
You think about media dollars being more accountable and the pressure we feel on budgets. We have to do more with less, but we still have to meet those changing consumer needs. So it’s important to be obsessed with the consumer in a way that helps you understand and have empathy for where they’re coming from and how they may be interacting with your brand differently. They may not be coming into your store in the same way. They may be engaging with you online differently. They may be engaging through a third-party app. How is that reflected in the way you’re trying to interact and connect with your consumers?

Daniella:
That makes a lot of sense. When we think about these challenges, what do marketers have to focus on in order to ensure they can drive growth? You’ve said budgets are getting smaller and we’re expected to do more with less. How do we do it?

Michelle:
First, I would say make sure you have a solid foundation in data and your data strategy, have clear ideas on what technology you have and how to get the most out of it, and then returning to the idea that everybody’s needs are changing, it goes back to agility. Are you agile enough to adapt based on the new trends you’re seeing?

Daniella:
Let’s take a minute to talk about data strategy. Can tell us a little bit more about what that means, because I think a lot of what we’re going to be talking about is grounded in data strategy. 

Michelle:
There’s a couple of components with data strategy. I’m going to refer to a 2017 Harvard Business Review article titled, What’s Your Data Strategy?, that speaks to two different, somewhat opposing but also really important and complementary, pieces of data strategy, one being an offensive data strategy and the other being a defensive data strategy. Within each of those, a defensive data strategy is much more about control, security, and creating a single source of truth that is your accurate kind of baseline. The offensive strategy is really focused on the translation of that single source of truth into “multiple versions of the truth” that support different business needs. For example, finance needs to know when a bill needs to be paid and marketing needs to know when the ad ran. Having multiple versions of the same information is important as you strive to meet the needs of various teams and their perspectives across your organization. It’s important to have alignment across your entire organization, all the way up through the executives, on your plan for creating a defensive strategy versus an offensive strategy, and understanding the trade-offs that are being made to get the right information to the marketers so they can do the work they need to drive revenue and profitability, etc. I think this really all relates to your first-party data. Being able to understand your foundational data strategy helps get your house in order so you can leverage data and the decisions you make to meet your consumer’s needs.

Daniella:
Michelle, can you define what first-party data is?

Michelle:
Sure. First-party data is any data that you collect about your consumers. It could be anything from browser data, app downloads, app interactions, transaction data, customer profile data, etc. It’s the data you collect that’s unique to you because you collected it.

Daniella:
So if I’m right, when we think about first-party data, we think in terms of CRM or first-party PII data, because somebody has walked into the store and bought something from you. But what you’re really saying is that it’s a broader definition, because it can be collected based on what’s happening on your website, whether you’re known or anonymous?

Michelle:
Correct, but I think it’s broader. I think your CRM data is a key piece, but it also goes beyond that into digital signals that are unique to your company.

Daniella:
I think the conversation around first-party data is really interesting, and I’m curious to know your point of view. Do you think you need to have first-party data if you want to use data more broadly in your strategies? How core is first-party data, as you think about data-driven strategies more broadly?

Michelle:
First and foremost, I would say first-party data is the most valuable to you because it’s the information you know about your customers that’s unique to your business. Not everybody’s going to have a wealth of first-party data. The more first-party data you collect, the more valuable information you’ll have about your consumers. Thinking about ways you can collect that first-party data would be part of a data strategy. The second would be, how are you augmenting that data? Are you using second-party data partnerships or third-party data agreements, where you may be licensing other data to better understand your consumers to help you make decisions that can lead to more relevant messages to them and deepen their engagement with you?

Daniella:
Michelle, you’ve mentioned data partnerships, and I feel like this is a good time to talk about them and understand their importance, as it’s a pretty broad concept. What do you think about them and why are they so important?

Michelle:
I think we can start with a couple of questions. The first is, what is the problem you’re trying to solve for your customer. Is it personalization? Are you trying to inspire them? Are you trying to break into a new market because you think there’s an unfulfilled need for consumers? The next question you can ask is, what data or partnerships can I build to help fulfill the brand promise to my customer? 

I think we’re seeing a trend in companies that have a lot of first-party data and how they’re making that data accessible. When you think about data partnerships and where they will be valuable to you, which companies can you build partnerships with that are strong and strategic and serve everyone in a powerful way? I think it all starts with accessing data through secure, privacy-first data partnerships. I think there’s lots of companies that are starting to open up their thinking about how they can connect data with others, and I think that’ll be a huge benefit to our industry, especially as we try and break through the noise and deliver more relevant content to our consumers.

Daniella:
So one of the things you mentioned was different types of data partnerships. Ultimately, you have to be able to connect data. So talk to us about where data connectivity fits in. Does that ultimately help you deliver on the promise to delight a consumer?

Michelle:
Absolutely. If you think about data partnerships as tools to help you understand your current or future consumer better, then data connectivity is about how you connect that data. It’s more around the technology that you use to unlock the data and access that you need. From a data connectivity perspective, think about the disparate sets of data that you’re bringing together, whether it’s data in or data out. So data out could be about activation. How am I connecting with the ecosystem to power a relevant message on Facebook, Pinterest, or YouTube? Or maybe to enable you to have greater insight into your consumers to make smarter content, make a more relevant creative piece, and measure the effectiveness. How do you optimize to maximize the value of the dollar that you’re investing in marketing to consumers?

Daniella:
I think that it’s so interesting, the power behind connecting all this data. We’ve talked about data strategies, the power of first-party data and data partnerships, and how technology and data connectivity can empower that. Let’s bring it all together, because ultimately it’s about driving business outcomes. Can you talk for a minute about the types of outcomes this can power for brands?

Michelle:
I think it all goes back to the consumer and understanding how your brand is engaging with existing and future customers. Where do you think these customers are? Who’s your current versus your future? How do you make sure you’re resonating with different groups? 

Earlier we talked about how content is everywhere and it’s always on. What are you doing differently that’s going to resonate with the consumer? I think understanding that is critical to being able to deliver that outcome. We’re not there yet in terms of delivering everything in the most relevant way, but we’re making a lot of good progress, and I think it’s these data partnerships and the technology that powers this data connectivity that’s going to be important in helping us build the strategies that deliver meaningful interactions with consumers.

Daniella:
It makes total sense, and if you think about it, a heightened consumer experience is ultimately going to drive business growth and objectives for marketers. Michelle, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts today. As I think about what we’ve talked about today, doubling down on data strategy, maximizing your first-party data, extending data partnerships, being creative and getting innovative with data partnerships, and ultimately connecting all of that so that you can delight your consumers and drive growth is what it’s all about. And thank you to everybody else listening today. We hope you enjoyed today’s podcast.