The program works so well that DirecTV now turns around its "called to cancel" data from inbound calls to its special agents four or five times a day, rather than overnight. Every customer saved is one less customer the company has to try to win back weeks or months later -- an expensive process, Gustafson says, that can involve mailings, email, and telephone calls, as well as sending someone out to reinstall the service. "When the customer first calls, they have a certain mind-set: They want to cancel," he says. "When we call back, they're unprepared. It's a little psychological advantage we have."
When Coca-Cola began to focus in earnest on using analytics in online marketing 10 years ago, one push was to understand whether their efforts were driving consumers to their website. The site would then lightly tailor pages based on customers' actions during past visits, says Doug Rollins, group director of loyalty CRM measurement at the $31 billion beverage company. A new visitor who entered a Diet Coke promotion might have been offered that option more prominently next time.
Now, though, the My Coke Rewards program has helped the company develop more in-depth knowledge about loyal customers. The inside of every bottle cap is printed with a 12-digit code that customers can text or type into a website or desktop widget to accumulate points that can be exchanged for prizes and other awards. Those who opt in to email marketing receive regular offers to gain more points, as well as other marketing pitches. Each is customized based on segments created from demographic information and behavior collected by the site. On average, 285,000 customers visit per day, entering an average of seven codes per second. Information embedded in the codes may include a region or location where the bottle was sold and whether it had special packaging, such as an Olympics logo, that Coca-Cola uses to tailor its pitches.
A 43-year-old woman, for example, may receive an email touting a "Family Roadtrip" sweepstakes, including a $5,000 gift card. A 20-something man might get a message offering an extra 10 points if he enters three more codes within a week. After four years, My Coke Rewards is among the longest-running marketing programs in Coca-Cola's history. And as the program has grown, the company has changed the way it runs in response to insight from analytics, Rollins says.
For example, at first the program focused on Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, and Coca-Cola Zero drinkers. Now the company cross-sells and upsells other brands, including water and juice products inherited in corporate acquisitions. Doing so entailed shifting how each business unit approaches its marketing, he explains.
Coca-Cola uses the FICO Precision Marketing Manager suite of statistical analysis tools to study data from its websites. Marketers look at which come-ons elicit the most and best responses, says Thomas Stubbs, Coca-Cola's interactive marketing director in global IT. Coca-Cola also exchanges data with companies that supply prizes, including Nascar, Nike, and Sony. "As technology has evolved, we're able to do more and have a relevant dialog with customers, not just push our ideas out there," he says.
Limited-time promotions don't teach a company as much about its customers as ongoing interactivity, Rollins says. FICO's business rules-management software helps determine in real time what material to present to consumers on which platform. The company has learned that watching behavior is more meaningful than reading questionnaires Web visitors are asked to fill out, he says. For example, some consider Diet Coke a woman's drink. (The company even developed Coca-Cola Zero -- in its black can, proclaiming "REAL Coke taste" -- to appeal to both men and women.)
"A man might not want to admit that he's a Diet Coke drinker. He will say in a survey that he prefers Coke. But we see he enters only Diet Coke PINs and market accordingly."
The idea is not just to save business but to create new business. Successful projects spark new ones. Analytics tools help companies create more money-generating interactions with customers and shave costs from internal operations. CIOs should connect analytics technologies with ideas about refining business processes, says Aberdeen's White. "Meld them together and that's very powerful."