I read this dispatch (a lovely word for article in this case that conjures up romantic kind of war correspondent images - though in a cinematic way, not a real world way. I hate reality shows....), a couple of days ago on something that I find, at least on the surface, highly intriguing.
Loyalty Lab, a company I know next to nothing about, released version 3.0 of its integrated marketing platform which they call "Ready-Aim-Engage;" (Cute, but not that creative) While releases of software or platforms or services are hardly anything earth shattering - in fact, hardly anything glass shattering - this one caught my eye, because of what the platform purports to do. Here it is in short order.
Marketers can track responses wherever customers purchase or interact, providing what the company calls "a more accurate view of response rates and performance.
The standalone email marketing product provides data integration with "Ready-Aim-Engage." Theoretically, (since I haven't seen it in action at all) it enables marketers to link email to transactional (of course) and non-transactional behaviors -- so messaging can be relevant to social networks.
Up to this point, interesting for its non-transactional promise, but not REAL interesting.
R-A-E 3.0 records customer activities that go beyond simple transactional behavior, including:
interacting with social media applications;
recording important dates
reading or posting to blogs; and
Now THAT got my attention.
Why, you might ask in a puzzled way, with your brow furrowed and your finger (depends on which one) up in the air - all the while thinking that Paul is nuts.
The former features are ways of integrating traditional tools like customer segmentation, the operational kind of CRM and a non-traditional tool or two - like actions on non-transactional behaviors - to a traditional channel - email in particular. Nice, but not dramatically different than a number of things out there.
The latter recording, interacting, reading and referring tools is the approach a platform that truly believes that, as The Cluetrain Manifesto says, "marketing is a conversation" Which makes it completely NOT like all the marketing apps tied to CRM suites or best-of-breed approaches - the ones that I railed against in this entry....and this one.
There is a unique value in this approach that has a double edge (like Experience on the Edge...ahem).
First, this is actually allowing a company to create an actual dialogue with its customers and informing the company as to when the dialogue advances. That is BEYOND merely important - that is mission-critical to interacting with customers who control the business ecosystem.
The second side bears a little more explanation.
In her white paper of last April, "Social Technographics", Forrester Group social computing whiz Charlene Li, found that companies 1. don't know how their customers use social technologies and 2. are inexperienced with what works, when it works and where it works. Plus (not from the paper) its hard to measure and, because much of the behaviors generated are emotional (a.k.a. non-transactional in this case), the value is hard to understand. What makes the R-A-E 3.0 important is that it gives the enterprise social mavens the ability to capture interactions that involve the social media - blogs, social networks and so on. This is not something that has been easily available - especially in a framework. It seems that part of the technology solution is that they have pre-built bridges to social networks like Facebook and APIs to customize the connections between the social networks and the enterprise or to build internal social network applications. Plus, apparently they provide social network analysis tools judging from this line in their promotional stuff:
"Discover which customers are influencing the rest of your database."
AND all of this is on demand.
While trolling around the website, I found that they had a modestly interesting and certainly informally (entertainingly) written blog called Loyalty Dogs that basically covers topical areas like customer experience, loyalty (duh!), program analytics, technology trends and "interesting stuff." Additionally, they have a Loyalty Lab Library which is a compendium of recent articles that are drawn from the industry standard sources (such as they are) sources like DestinationCRM and 1to1 magazine again on topical subjects. What is GLARINGLY missing in their library is the blog resources that can add a LOT to their library or wiki resources or podcast links or....you get the message. But that is a small (big) niggling (painful) omission.
This is something worth looking into further. I'm not sure how well executed it is. I've never seen it in a production environment so I don't know if R-A-E 3.0 even works. But I have to say that Loyalty Lab at least seems to be not just paying attention to the customer that is now running the ecosystem; but also trying to capture what that customer is doing. And that is attention-getting.