Partner Voices: Hallmark Data’s Joshua Sukenic on Using Analytics to Boost Revenue & Create Efficiencies
As media owners continue to evolve their business, it's becoming increasingly important to understand the data you have and how it can help you grow and monetize your audience. More sophisticated data management and analytics tools are available today to make it possible to leverage data in new ways. Here Hallmark Data Systems -- an EBSCO company -- SVP of Sales and Growth Strategy Joshua Sukenic shares insight and experience gained from working first-hand with publishers to boost their revenue via data analytics
What is the main challenge for publisher utilizing their data today?
There are two main challenges: the first is conceptual and the second is expectations. First, the concept of a database itself can be overwhelming. What does it mean? What does it take to create, maintain? Why didn't it work before? A database does not need to be difficult, especially with tools available today. A database can become difficult if a data expert is not involved, but that's why Hallmark provides services. Creating a highly functional enterprise database that powers your sales, marketing, and audience engagement; sure, that's a project, but engage those that know data, specifically for publishers, and understand how to maintain, update, and unify and it's not nearly as overwhelming.
Expectations are a tricky subject. Utilizing a database or organizing data into a centralized, unified structure does not itself create revenue. Our publishing clients that have developed strategies, goals, objectives, and ownership of such prior to engaging in a database project have been successful. Those that have gone through the "what-if" scenarios, chose the top 3 value-accretive objectives, and attacked diligently have been most successful. We'd suggest that for all publishers -- determine where you want to be, how the database will help you get there, and measure your efforts.
What data insight and analytics are available today?
There is a fear-based idea, "the devil's in the details!" that most of us have today. But the original idea is at the core of what analytics insights provide, namely, a key to understanding your universe in its multi-dimensional scale. Truly remarkable achievements come from our ability to transform raw data into actionable intelligence -- to put data to work. That's what we make available to our clients today -- actionable intelligence.
Access to internal and competitive intelligence -- data that's been transformed for business-users and decision makers -- is scalable and within reach of anyone with a database today. No matter your data's size, from gigabytes to petabytes, the tools we have bring data from many different sources together, to identify patterns in it, develop behavioral predictors from it, and use those to bring efficiency and economy to the way publishers are serving up leads for their clients.
We turn data into things like easily digestible KPI's and scorecards that summarize at a glance the marketing and sales knowledge of millions of rows of data that live in what used to be your audience black box. We're delivering data-driven solutions for our clients like our Select Insight Models that leverage data relationships, online and offline actions and behaviors, customer attributes, and transactional facts to bring more responsive audience segments forward, delivering higher engagement and cultivating greater long-term value from the best names on a file.
There's so much more. The Hallmark platform reveals the true nature of our clients' customers and gives them the tools they need to mine the maximum underlying value of those relationships for the greatest possible return on their marketing investment. This is why we use the terms analytics insight together. With it, our clients are developing sharper intuition about their customers, delivering better, more targeted results and stronger performance metrics. That's really the whole point, isn't it?
Why are data analytics so powerful?
Analytics turn data into information and in turn, information into knowledge. They cut through the noise and make a vast data set, including disparate data types, sources, time periods, which are actionable and easy to understand. As an example, if a marketer spent enough time, they could corral my most engaged digital audience. The questions you need to ask yourself are "how long will this whole process take", "what happens when my audience grows and changes", "what methodology was used to determine this audience," "how do I act on what's been provided" and more...
I spent a number of years at a publishing and information services company, and for those that follow investing, one that created what might be the most successful piece of analytics ever developed, the Morningstar Star Rating. In one single tool, millions of professionals make billions of dollars of investing decisions. There is years of research, back-testing, and most importantly usability. This is a great example of the power of analytics. Now, to be fair, analytics don't always work -- at times they can be oversimplified or even misleading -- another reason you want to work with a provider who has industry expertise.
Analytics looks at a set of data and trends across different periods and data sources. Like data, analytics doesn't always tell you the exact answer (otherwise there wouldn't be a need for us, would there?) but they easily send you in the right direction and support your decisions with proven and tested methods.
How does cross-platform tracking of an audience benefit the publisher
Campaign management requires access to all of a publisher's channels. If you are attracting and engaging audience through multiple channels, and endeavoring each day to cross-sell and up-sell audience into new and different brands, silo'ed campaign management is too narrow of a view. If you interact across multiple channels as a marketer, you want to know how each channel performs and impacts one another.
As an example, a media owner was telling me how very proud they were of the number of new customers they'd attracted from an interactive and friendly video. As we looked further at attribution, and reviewed how these prospects were finding the video, converting to customers, and performing as customers, we quickly realized that the campaign wasn't nearly successful as we thought. We could spend money in on other efforts and attract the same amount of customers who had a higher lifetime value. We wouldn't have recognized this had we solely looked at the video in a silo. Cross platform views are critical to manage a publisher's ROI and to optimize future efforts.
How does "data velocity" enable better decision-making and generate engaged audiences?
People hear the term velocity and automatically equate it to "real-time". Yes, that's certainly a point on the trajectory, but it's really just one of many speeds at which we do business. With so many factors involved in data, on its own faster access to data doesn't result in better decision making, but all else equal, a lag in data certainly puts you at a disadvantage. Real-time access to business data -- good, clean, reliable business data that's actionable -- is as good as what its intended use is, the underlying strategy asking for it. Velocity in this context -- the speed of data-driven implementations -- is critically important to audience engagement.
We encourage clients to think long and hard about how timely access to data is going to change the way they do business, the way they engage with their customers. For many, true real-time data is an idea with no immediate, practical need behind it. However, data updated nightly, or at the very least weekly, is essential versus monthly and quarterly. Our publishers who have designed their business processes and downstream handling rules around more timely action have been most successful. Whatever the need, the timeliness of data access needs to be well planned from end-to-end, on a per channel basis in many cases. When expectations are aligned with strategy, process and capacity, incredible things happen.
We see data velocity as a driver of relevant customer interactions and communications. In that sense, there's nothing more important to keeping your customer engaged on the right level, at the right time. Data velocity is a relative concept, it should move at a pace that's right for your business, to enhance the value of your portfolio. Making better decisions means making the right decision at the right time, and that's done with timely access to business intelligence and informed analytics insight. At Hallmark, we serve up analytics insight in "right time" with an eye on leveraging data assets efficiently to drive maximum potential revenue and profitability from every name on every file we manage.
Is there anything else you'd like to offer on this topic?
Do your research; work with a partner that has proven data expertise and industry knowledge. Contact Hallmark Today - firstname.lastname@example.org.