According to HCF’s chief information officer, Patrick Shearman, this is important for HCF in terms of product development and determining what clients can claim for, and how much.
“You can start to tell how many HCF members in a particular postcode have had a disease, or what age they are,” he says. “That feeds into the overall claiming process and calculation of benefits.”
Much harder still though is the notion of integrating discrete social data with specific customer records. Even many of those organisations actively monitoring social media are doing so for sentiment analysis and ad hoc responses to questions and complaints, rather than proactive marketing and customer acquisition.
National Australia Bank for instance is an extensive user of social media, having established its Social Media Command Centre in late 2012. A team of up two dozen staff monitor different social media channels and use analytics tools to deliver insights into the conversations that are happening.
NAB’s general manager for technology strategy and innovation, Denis Curran, says most data analytics efforts right now are directed to creating business benefits, such as better risk weighting. “The holy grail is about creating new valuable product and service propositions,” he says.
“The new propositions come about when you look at things that can take richer sources of data, and that’s things like text analytics and voice analytics we’re experimenting with, and understanding more about customer s’ attitude and behaviour to things.
“You can see different aspects emerging. The challenge with many of those is the ability to turn them into valuable products for customers that they will appreciate and pay a premium for.”
One of the greatest difficulties for marketers is in matching up external data from social feeds to internally-held customer data. How for instance can a company know that 10-year customer John Smith is also complaining about customer service via Twitter as @johnnysmith77?
Matching real people to online personae has become the specialty of Sydney-based consultancy, Digiviser. According to chief executive officer, Emma Lo Russo, her company can glean sufficient information from a person’s LinkedIn, Twitter and other publicly-available services to match up approximately 60 per cent of a company’s customer base to online personae.
“We use multiple markers, and each marker might be a combination of first name, surname, or any information that might be common,” Lo Russo says.
For example, a person’s public LinkedIn profile might contain their location and employer, and even their Twitter ID. Alternately, they might use their real name or employer in the brief description of themselves they post on Twitter.
“There might be enough in there that allows us to say alright, we know we’ve got someone, so let’s use that information across the other platforms,” Lo Russo says. “It is all probabilistically assigned, and then when we think we’ve got the candidate to a certain probability, we will say ‘here’s a match’.”
Even then however she says it is impossible to be 100 per cent confident, so companies must use such associations with caution. But even allowing for errors of assumption, the potential for targeted marketing is highly attractive.
“A person who indicates they have just booked a holiday, or are thinking of booking a holiday, would be a candidate for travel insurance,” Lo Russo says. “A wedding is an indicator that a person might be ready for a person loan.”
With the launch of the iPhone 5 last year, Digiviser was engaged by a telecommunications company to identify which subscribers might want to upgrade. Failing to reach those customers with the right offer might have led to significant customer churn.
Lo Russo says such techniques can also be used to better inform and target a broad range of marketing campaigns, by enabling better customer segmentation. Digiviser is able to tell a company where its customers ‘hang out’ online, what they talk about, and the language they use.
This can in turn lead to more targeted search and display advertising campaigns, with more tailored content placed in optimal locations.
While interest has been increasing significantly over the past 12 to 18 months, particularly for finding and converting sales leads, Lo Russo says technology is still holding many back. In the case of the telecommunications client, that was run as a separate campaign.
“Interest is definitely there, but the number of organisations that can have their CRM actually set up to enable that real-time integration of data are probably fewer,” she says.
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