We have been through an era of enterprise architecture which focused on cutting costs, and there are still further rationalization opportunities out there. Equally, we have been through an era of transformation, and there are still plenty more opportunities for transforming organizations, especially in the face of new competitors entering markets with new technology offerings that decimate the incumbents. We have all watched the rise and dominance of Amazon, for example. The company has dominated not only in the retail world but also in the world of cloud computing and web services.
We are now entering the era of marketing. We are heading toward a time when enterprise architects should be showing marketing professionals exactly what is possible and helping to bring these possibilities to life.
Companies engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) have long known that there are clusters of consumers with similar buying preferences. They have filled out their product range to appeal to those clusters and designed their promotional campaigns accordingly. They have also used different brand names to differentiate the products in the eyes of the consumer.
More recently, the capability to group consumers, business buyers, charitable givers, voters, and more into clusters, or personas, has become a critical success factor.
Ever since the US presidential elections, where people were grouped into personas—including Soccer Moms and NASCAR Dads—marketers have become much more focused on defining and targeting personas. Indeed, in current US presidential elections, politicians and their campaign teams do not treat these groups as monoliths. They know that these personas do not vote exactly alike, but that messages can be designed to appeal to them to a certain extent. With the vast financial resources at some candidates’ disposal, they are refining the personas and running a series of separate campaigns in battleground states.
Some credit card issuers define personas for their customers and tailor their rewards program, interest rates, and payment terms to maximize the profit from each cluster. Universities will create personas for students, alumni, parents, faculty, and others, targeting their messages accordingly.
The big question though is how do we know how to group people? How do we define the personas or clusters? What data do we have on people’s buying patterns or engagement patterns in the case of nonprofits or government agencies?
The answer to these questions may not be what we expect. In fact, the only way to refine our definition of personas is to collect data about the habits of existing customers and test out how they respond to offers. This is more than a CRM application—it is the collection and assimilation of a lot of data. In terms of the role of enterprise architects in all this, they can show marketers how to generate significant volumes of data at a sufficient velocity and to have it analyzed.
With that information, products or services can be refined or new offerings designed to address the needs of different clusters. Effective campaigns can be developed, and new messages that are more targeted can be created.
To quote a recent report on IT skills demand and pay trends, “One of the most disruptive trends reshaping the technology workforce right now is being driven by companies responding to a single question: How do we use digital innovation to create new products, processes, and experiences that will create and drive important new streams of revenue?” It goes on to say that, “Digital product design and delivery is being produced by ‘digital ecosystems’ of products and interactive experiences supported by major alignment of technology and strategy. It also takes crisp execution by people inhabiting many new jobs in areas of engineering, applications development, QA, operations, and marketing.”
For proactive enterprise architects, this represents a significant opportunity to contribute at the right level in the organization, but there remain many more opportunities to collaborate with marketing professionals.
It is necessary but not sufficient to gather and analyze data to define personas so that products and services can be refined or developed, and campaigns can be targeted. It is also necessary to capture and retain customers and to develop them into advocates: people who will recommend your offering to others. Many of us cannot remember starting to use Google or Amazon because of their promotional campaigns, but we did so because someone else suggested them to us. We all want our customers, givers, voters, etc. to become our advocates.
Understanding where each customer is in his or her customer journey is key as well as making sure that, having identified where customers are, we then provide targeted messages that are directly relevant to them at that time. Key questions here may include: Are these people at the early stage of becoming aware of your organization and its offerings? Are they reviewing the offerings and comparing them with those of competitors? How long do they stay on the site? Is that an indicator of “buying” downstream? Are they an existing or past customer, participant, or user? Or have they moved through to the ideal state of being advocates; of recommending you to their friends, colleagues, or partners?
This is a stage further than personas and requires the capability to bring together large amounts of data and combine it with the ability to deliver relevant messages and offers to the specific customer at the right time.
In addition to the information that can be gathered about the behavior of individuals at the different touch points, organizations are also placing a lot of emphasis on managing and monitoring social media, another key area of opportunity for EAs to work more closely with marketing teams.
Social media is not simply a matter of sending Tweets or having people give you “likes” on Facebook. It also includes monitoring Tweets for any mentions and following them up. It is important that an organization can respond quickly to a disgruntled customer and turn their initially negative message into a positive at a later time. And it is worth remembering that this will have a big impact on the customer returning.
There is no doubt that a large number of marketing professionals would love to be able to do all of this but they don’t have the ability to generate and analyze Big Data. Likewise, many of them do not have an effective platform for responding to and analyzing Tweets, likes, and comments rather than simply counting them.
It could be argued that some marketers are simply making do with guesswork and an outdated CRM— which is where EAs can come in.