Marketing is an increasingly digital pursuit, and marketing departments today have an insatiable appetite for IT services. However, ensuring that IT staff understand and can deliver the required services is a challenge for many organisations.
Online betting exchange Betfair is a case in point. According to Stewart Dickson, head of marketing data and operations, the company’s marketing staff currently provision the IT services they need to support campaigns through a spreadsheet-based system.
The spreadsheets give them limited options, and prevent them from expressing precisely what they need. “If the boxes and options don’t fit what they want then they just tick the nearest one, and it would never quite be what they wanted,” he explains.
However, Betfair is currently undergoing a marketing technology redesign, and it has already improved the IT/marketing relationship, he says.
At the moment, each of Betfair’s marketing channels – web, SMS, telemarketing, direct mail and email – is managed by a separate system, which means it cannot co-ordinate cross-channel campaigns automatically. “This means our campaigns have been dictated primarily by the technology we have,” he says.
Also, the company has outgrown an email marketing system it deployed just two years ago. “One day, we just hit a wall with the number of emails we could send out,” Dickson explains. “Plus, we wanted to automate some of our email campaigns, because we were doing the same work over and over again, but there were issues with how easy it was with that system.”
Betfair is therefore in the process of migrating to Unica, marketing campaign management software that was acquired by IBM in 2010. This will allow the company to manage not only email campaigns but also voice, SMS, web and direct mail marketing, all through a single system, Dickson says.
Dickson says that Betfair considered other suppliers, including SAP and Aprimo, but chose Unica on the basis of an existing relationship with marketing IT services provider Transactis. “We were already with Transactis, and they already had a relationship with IBM, but we did vet all the competitors properly,” he says.
One important characteristic of the Unica software, Dickson says, is its visual interface, which allows business employees to understand the information presented on screen. This, he claims, has already improved collaboration between marketing and technical staff.
“It’s had an impact on Betfair’s culture,” he says. “We’re becoming more conversant with the executives, finding out what they want commercially, as supposed to making them fill out forms.”
In future, Dickson plans to tie data from Betfair’s Omniture web analytics system into the Unica platform. It currently uses that data to analyse web behaviour to see when people are most likely to place bets, and it could be use to make marketing campaigns more effective.
Betfair’s ultimate goal, Dickson says, it to be able to tailor marketing message to each individual customers “We know what our vision is: personalised communications across relevant channels to the customers."