Technology can be scary topic for some. Technology brings change and complicated concepts, which can be challenging even for the tech-savvy. Implementing foreign concepts may seem overwhelming, and can scare off marketers.

However, one sect of technology sets itself apart from the rest because of its usefulness and potential assets. Marketing automation can be a marketer’s best friend when implemented into a marketing strategy.

And, despite its technological ties, automation can be easy for marketers using the right software and the right data to create content.


The first step in keeping automation easy is choosing the right automation software. Each platform has different tools. With that in mind, it’s important to make sure the software you choose corresponds with your company’s marketing goals.

Establishing what an automation software can do for your company is important. Some software provides a few automation commands, while others offer dozens of different options. Marketing automation is best known for sending automated emails. However, this is just the tip of the automation software iceberg. Marketers can also use automation software to conduct A/B testing, lead generation, customer segmentation, and content organization. Depending on what you’re using your automation for, choose a software that coincides best with your automation goals.

Your automation software must also be easy to operate. Software that is too difficult to understand can lead to an automation nightmare. Instead of saving a company time, a confusing platform may actually cost extra time, money and other resources. Before fully committing to a particular software, marketers should make sure they understand how to operate the platform… or have access to someone else that can!

We encourage marketers to consider marketing automation systems like nectarOM’s.


After determining which automation platform is best, marketers can begin to develop content. The key to drafting automation content easily is in the data. making-automation-easy

A common misconception is that automation generates content that is cold, robotic and impersonal. However, customer data helps marketers develop personalized, targeted messages for consumers. Generally, customers prefer this personalized content. When marketers correctly use data, coming up with content for automation messages can be relevant and efficient.

So here’s the problem:

If marketers are using bad data, developing content may take an unnecessarily long time. And – what’s more – the content may not even be effective. To prevent any data mishaps, marketers should eliminate bad data from their data pool.

Bad data consists of data that is too old, irrelevant, or simply wrong. To avoid falling into the dirty data trap, marketers must weed out this bad data from their data pool.

To prevent collection of more bad data, marketers should consider the following precautions.

  • Marketers should collect data from a variety of outlets, incorporating data from 1st and 3rd parties.
  • Additionally, marketers should not hesitate to ask shoppers for personal information. The more relevant information a company has about a customer, the better a personalized experience will be.
  • Lastly, marketers should evaluate specific metrics to determine whether the automation is working successfully. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t work can be a huge help for marketers.

Equipped with good software and good data, marketers can easily draft a positive automation experience for customers. Intrigued about implementing automation into your marketing strategy? Learn more about how to manage multiple channels with automation.

Each of us have a marketing hero. It doesn’t matter if you are new to the marketing space or have worked in the industry most of your life. Each of us know someone who inspires us to be a better marketer today than we were yesterday.

You might think that business executives, marketing consultants, technology gurus, data scientists, and digital specialists would have varying ideas on what makes a marketing hero. Our idea of heroism isn’t as different as you might think. I’ve been talking to people in Dallas, San Diego, Chicago, and other cities to learn what traits people look for in a marketing hero.

Have a marketing hero characteristic to add to the list? Let us know on Twitter using #MyMarketingHero!

1. Socially Responsible. Some of our favorite marketing heroes embrace a philanthropic cause. It’s clear their end goal is to build awareness and spread resources to those in need. Marketing hero Pete Frates, creator of the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign, reminded us of the power of a smart digital strategy powered by community engagement. Retailers, non-profits, and business-to-business brands alike can learn from these passion-filled philanthropists using marketing to help the world.

2. Data-Driven. Our favorite marketing heroes focus on reaching goals in the most efficient way possible. They don’t rely on assumption or hunches, but seek data that informs them on the best route to generating results.

3. Tech-Savvy. A hero sees technology as a tool to provide a more seamless and meaningful experience for both the business and the consumer. They don’t hesitate to learn a new platform and develop creative ways for pushing its capabilities to the max. What if the technology doesn’t exist? No problem. Marketing heroes are oftentimes entrepreneurs of marketing tech.

4. Mentor-Centric. Whether it’s in an auditorium of five hundred people or the corner table of a coffee shop, marketing heroes are eager to share bits of wisdom. They teach us tips and tricks, and inspire us to push the boundaries of what we think is possible. They are positive and give constructive feedback. While they may not always spell out the answer, they provide direction so we may discover the answers for ourselves.

5. Resourceful. Marketing heroes have this amazing ability to make the most out of the tools and talent around them. They have trained their mind to recognize opportunities when others might only see obstacles. A hero also doesn’t expect to go the journey alone, and welcomes those who are willing to work hard to achieve goals.

6. Curious. This is perhaps the most important characteristic of a marketing hero. Curiosity feeds knowledge. It’s a trait that pushes us to look for solutions even before the problem arises. Marketing heroes look beyond the obvious. They see failure as a growth opportunity, and always welcome a challenge that gets them a step ahead from where they were.

Who is your marketing hero?

Who is your marketing hero? Is it a committed mentor or conference speaker? Is it your colleague or friend? A celebrity or client?

Nominate your hero on Twitter using the hashtag #MyMarketingHero.

Clickstream technology is vital to understanding customers in any web associated business. The ability to track customer activity across digital fronts allows analysts and marketing teams to easily optimize UX, enrich their CRM, and enhance personalization. One of the key success factors for personalization is segmentation, and installing a clickstream tool can help build customer profiles to power automation engines and personalization.

Although clickstream is most intuitive for website use, it also provides value for other channels. For instance, basic analytics tools and most email services can show you the click-through rate, but using a clickstream will allow you to track which links were clicked and also track through the link onto a website to continue building the customer pathway as a prospect navigates through your digital world.

Marketing automation tools like nectarOM can help make the process of pulling in clickstream data, segmenting customers, and executing campaigns easier, but understanding how clickstream data can build or validate customer personas and profile types builds the base for more advanced personalization.

Analysis of historical data, like # of clicks on different assets, first session time, page view time, # of site visits, total session time, and tons of other data points that can help build understanding about an individual’s habits and personality type. Historical data can even be mapped to show progression of the customer through time, and analysis can see how each data point has changed over the lifecycle of an individual. With enough time, an automation tool, and planning, these data points can easily be imported into a CRM tool to enrich the existing customer information and fed into a marketing automation platform

Historical data about an individual customer can provide insights, but making clickstream data actionable enough requires laying out significant linkage between clickstream behavioral triggers and executed marketing engagement.

A marketing automation tool will make the act of ingesting and digesting new data points, and sending messages or content to customers much easier, but just like manual lists and campaigns, marketers will face challenges in describing what should prompt a marketing message or a change in content.

Things to keep in mind:


1. What describes a customer behavior change?

Many automation tools have predetermined algorithms that measure changes in quantitative history to optimize messaging, but each business is different.

2. Who are your buyer personas?

If you already have previously validated segments, how should they mesh with new clickstream data being pulled in? How is your clickstream data meshing with other customer data points from social, email, POS, and other sources.

3. What is your content?

This is often the most difficult and overlooked part in the personalization and automation evolution. Because sending relevant, personalized messages is important, how do you ensure that variants of content are enough, but not too much for your team to handle? The more personalized your marketing becomes, the more complex content to behavior linking will be. Marketer accessible data like like names, location, etc is much easier to personalize than things like design, copy, and other labor heavy work.

Clickstream is powerful, and it works, but utilization of the relatively easy to install tool requires a lot of thought into how it will enrich customer data, power automation and personalization, and ultimately increase marketing ROI. What are your challenges with clickstream data?

A customer data management platform acts as the backbone for any company using data to understand customers and generate sales. Data management platforms are multi-functional entities, as they collect, manage, process, analyze, organize, and activate data. And, as data-driven marketing continues to drive revenue, data management platforms have become a common implementation for all types of businesses.

While there are a number of data management platforms available for businesses, not all data management platforms are created equal. Smart retailers should evaluate the following four components to determine which data management platform is most effective for their marketing campaign.

Integration of 1st and 3rd party data

Cross-referencing 1st and 3rd party data yields gratifying results for marketers. Examining both types of data creates opportunities to hyper-target and hyper-personalize marketing toward customers.

However, it is important to note that data management platforms integrate 1st and 3rd party data differently from one another. For example, consider the practices of the platforms Blue Kai and Knotice. In a Forrester Study, Blue Kai was recognized for its “established leadership position in the third-party audience data space.” This contrasted against Knotice, which placed “strong focus on first-party data” with “little third-party data integration.”

Integrating 1st and 3rd party data has become a priority for businesses. A 2012 Winterberry Group study of marketers, publishers, technology developers and solution providers explored the importance of assimilating data, finding that 85% of the respondents considered integration of 1st and 3rd party data a “core competency” in desirable data management platforms.

A respondent from the study expanded on this idea even further, saying that data management should “allow us to harness first-party data, overlay the right third-party sources and create rich profiles of our customers that extend beyond the data we may have on their specific interactions with us.”

The “Right” priorities

There are several uses for data management platforms. Customer insight development, targeted media buying, CRM program optimization, and site content optimization are just a few ways customer data can be used.

Because of this, businesses must make sure that its end goals coincide with what a specific DMP can offer. Since businesses have different reasons for managing data, they must make sure that their DMP organizes, analyzes and presents customer data in a way that best corresponds with their priorities.

For example, consider findings from the previously aforementioned Winterberry Group study regarding important priorities for Data management platforms. While almost all marketers (93%) agreed that customer insight development is an important priority for future DMP support, a mere 59% call advertising yield optimization an important priority.

These findings tell us that marketers have varying priorities and reasons for utilizing data. While most marketers are looking for a DMP that offers customer insight development, only a fraction of marketers are looking for a platform that presents advertising yield optimization.

Cross-Channel management

Your ideal DMP should incorporate data from multiple sources. Data from multiple channels provides a better understanding of customers’ experiences. Omnichannel practices in data management platforms produce a complete profile of a company’s customers. This 360-degree view of a customer is guaranteed to enhance marketing personalization campaigns.

Bridget Bidlack of the DMP [x+1] is an advocate of this cross-channel implementation. In an interview, she said that ideal data management platforms should “close the loop by ingesting campaign data from all channels and vendors, as well as offline activities like in-store sales and call center interaction.”

Bidlack further explains that this helps marketers use data to its fullest extent.

Ease of use

Marketers, advertisers and data management platforms themselves have recognized the importance of data management. Data management platforms have been called the “brain,” the “backbone” and a “must-have” for companies.

In other words, data management platforms are a central component for a company’s success in the marketing world. Because these platforms carry so much influence over marketing success, understanding the data gathered and analyzed is imperative to a company’s success.

Getting stuck with a data management platform that is difficult to use can present unnecessary complications and create stress for companies. Choosing a straightforward DMP that is easy to use is critical for businesses that want to optimize data. Data-driven marketing is too reliant on data management platforms to incorporate a complicated, time-consuming platform into business practices.

71% of respondents in a Forbes Insights and Turn study believe that reliance on data-driven marketing will only increase this upcoming year. With high expectations for data-driven marketing in 2015, hopping on the data management platform bandwagon (if you haven’t already) is optimal. Just be sure to choose the right data management platform for a successful future!

DMA 2014 San Diego

Last week I attended my first Direct Marketing Association (DMA) conference in San Diego. For years I heard about this organization and how amazing the experience is. I had these images of high-profile speakers standing on brightly lit stages, after-hour networking parties with suited-up marketers, breakfast meetings on the harbor, and after dinner strolls on the marina watching the waves beat against sailboats.

DMA is a different experience for each attendee. My participation was so much more interesting than I imagined, and I’ve been eager to hear what others experienced last week in San Diego.

The DMA 2014 Experience

After one hundred years of events it makes one wonder what has changed or stayed constant throughout the years. What were people dicussing, learning, and doing at DMA thirty, forty, and even eighty years ago? I think about how the DMA experience must have evolved. If only walls could talk, right?

So what did people experience at this year’s DMA conference? I’m asking attendees and speakers, and this is what they say:

“You don’t have to forgive the pun, it’s quite intentional, but this DMA was, simply put, Magic! Yep… there’s the magic of Magic Johnson and then there’s the tag line of the event: marketing together points to the heart of the partnership between content, technology and big data. It seemed like there was a general understanding that there are a lot of moving parts to the marketing apparatus and going it alone is really antithetical to getting the job done. You need partnerships, internally and externally.”
– Len Shneyder, Director of Industry Relations, Message Systems
Twitter: @LenShneyder

“I love that at DMA you can get together and talk to so many thought leaders in the industry in one place. The educational sessions are great and this year seeing offline and online being brought together was exciting.”
– Erin Levzow, DMA speaker, Director of Digital Marketing & Social Media, Wingstop
Twitter: @Playnthestrs

“This year’s Direct Marketing Association (DMA) annual #DMA14 conference in San Diego was a complete ‘rethink’ for how marketing looks for many brands and companies today.

‘In years past, it always felt that the annual event had an invisible wall between offline and online marketing techniques and channels. This year, the DMA focused on the mantra, Don’t Market Alone (DMA). It acknowledged that many of us are marketing through many channels, including offline and online.

‘The choice of having DMA 2014 in San Diego was brilliant. The city offered lots to do which, in essence, drove the hallway conversations and meet-ups that are expected to occur at the event. The event is much more than just content, but networking with others to hear how our choices in marketing can be successful or detrimental to our brands.

‘The vendor floor also was a “who’s who” convention of products and services. I’ve always enjoyed walking the floor to see what new and interesting offerings are out there today. I even learned some new things from companies I’ve never heard of or even thought that a product could exist.
-Dennis Dayman, DMA speaker, Chief Privacy Officer, Return Path
Twitter: @ddayman

What is DMA?

DMA has inspired marketers for nearly a century. This organization for data-driven marketers aims to bring advocacy, networking, education, insight, and business services to its members. It has grown into one of the world’s leading marketing organizations – with members representing more than 40 countries and every segment of the marketing industry.

What was your DMA 2014 experience?

Want to share your experience? I’d love it if you did! Tweet using @nectarOM and @KRDollar using #DMA14. Or just email me at

Our DMA 2014 Takeaways

The San Diego Convention Center was lovely, and the weather collaborated to make a beautiful experience (especially in the back atriums and patio areas). Our only qualm – the exhibit booths weren’t on the sailboats outside. Great choice of a venue.

The keynote speakers were fantastic, and you could tell by the way people packed up and crowded the main hall that excitement was in the air. Our personal favorite was Magic Johnson – “Keep trying, consistency is key”.(I may have made part of that quote up…he got me so pumped all I could think about during the keynote was, “You can do anything.”)

There were plenty of thought provoking tracks to keep marketers intrigued and actively learning. A few of the CRM tracks were phenomenal, but my personal track favorite was the short session with Google creative director Ben Jones. His ability to mix data and storytelling is something marketers need to listen carefully to. Data might tell you predictions, but storytelling is what will ultimately create brand presence and loyal followers. A point made several times from different speakers was that integrating data the right way can make all the difference when it it comes to analyzing omnichannel interaction (ready for the holidays?).

Our neighbors at 1 point mail were great – Managing Director Paul Westhorpe and team really know enterprise email and were incredibly friendly, and we were able to connect with lots of folks over our #mymarketinghero contest, which turned out to be a huge success…Our simple concept – nominate your marketing hero on twitter and win a chance to get two Apple TVs – encouraged people to engage with each other and earn some brownie points. By the end of the conference, people started calling us the marketing hero guys, which I took as a job well done.

Congrats Rick Miller on winning the contest, and nominee Brian Kurtz!

Wrapping up…

What we loved:
Magic Johnson, the focus on traditional AND digital marketing, our #mymarketinghero contest, San Diego weather, the beautiful venue, DMA’s hard work

What the people want:
Tracks clearly separated by mastery level, less vendor-led tracks (teach me, don’t pitch me), more exhibit hall traffic

We did not stay for the post-event tracks, so if anyone has thoughts on how they went, feel free to shoot me an email at

DMA 2014

Meet nectarOM at DMA 2014

Our team will be at DMA 2014 in San Diego from October 26th to the 29th at booth 1016, so come stop by and say hi to us when you have a chance.

DMA 2014 hosts some of the best and brightest data driven marketers and offers the marketing world a chance to connect over the rapidly evolving marketing space.

Learn more about DMA 2014 at: //

Stay classy, San Diego

San Diego


One of the biggest issues we see our clients have is dirty data; that is, inaccurate, erroneous, or otherwise incomplete data. While this may seem like a tiny blip in the realm of big data and analytics, it is quite possibly the biggest barrier in enhancing a company’s overall data insight capabilities. Here are 5 steps to data cleaning and ensuring data integrity.

1.) Know Your Data

Before you even attempt to start cleaning up your data, you need to ask yourself: What is the data used for currently and how it will be used in the future? Without a direction of how the data will be used, it will be difficult to clean it up because you won’t know what fields to eliminate (if any) or understand what glaring gaps lie within the data. We were given a task from by a client to clean up their data and bring it all in one place. When we presented the pristine, cleaned up, data it to them, we asked them what it would be used for and their response was they had no idea!

Bottom line: if you don’t know what your data will be used for, you will have a much harder time knowing where to even start the clean-up process.

2.) Sanitize Your Inputs

Let’s talk about how your data ends up in a database. Jane registers for a website and enters her name, e-mail address, and zip code. Her e-mail address is stored within the database with an extra space due to the input of the form, so instead of “”, it reads as “ “. While this may seem insignificant, having that extra space will make the email field unreliable and could cause problems with how the data is read in other programs. Cleaning up your currently stored data is all well and good, but if you haven’t purified your inputs, there will be a continuous loop of bad data.

3.) Identify a Unique Field

This may seem like a no brainer, but without a unique field, harvesting your dataset will be much more difficult. Databases such as SQL and MongoDB insist on storing a unique field, labeled Primary Key or Object ID respectively. This unique field is important in identifying links between two tables, so you are able to append data from one table source to another.

For example, let’s say you have two separate tables: your customer list and your e-mail campaign data. Each customer has a reference number which is located in both tables. In order to link the customer data to the e-mail campaign data, having the unique reference number is vital in connecting the two tables.

4.) Validate Your Fields

If you pay attention to only one step in this article, this should be it. Validating your fields is vital in cleaning up your data.

Remove Spaces

Having spaces in your data could directly affect the readability if another software or API needs to read the information. Be proactive in removing any unnecessary spaces in your fields. If there is truly a space in the cell, the =TRIM function in Excel eliminates the unnecessary spaces.

Remove Illegal Characters

Sometimes illegal characters make their way into your otherwise clean data. We all know naming file names on your computer with characters such as #$%^& will elicit an error response, and the same goes with cell data. For example, let’s say you have a “date” column, and for whatever reason the “#” symbol is being inserted in every row. The date column will not read as a date column but as a text or general column.

Do Not Store the Date Field as a Text String

The date column is crucial in determining when an event took place. Let’s say you want to view the revenue for the past year that were attributed to your e-mail campaigns. If the e-mail sent date field is reading as text and not an actual date, you won’t be able to filter the data to gather your revenue.

Store E-mail Address as Lowercase

For consistency purposes, it’s important to store your customers’ e-mail addresses as lowercase. If you store a customer’s e-mail address as uppercase and he/she then decides she wants to unsubscribe from communications, the e-mail address may not get unsubscribed because of case mismatch.

5.) Keep Tomorrow in Mind

Looking ahead when it comes to data organization and cleaning will save you valuable chunks of time in the future. Not all data fields may be useful immediately, so hiding and safekeeping seemingly useless information instead of deleting fields will help save time and money when business needs change. Process guidelines for data structure guidelines may be time consuming to make, but it will mean a world of difference when explaining data entry and manipulation to new hires and other team members.

Consistency is the key to a cleaner data future.

Astronomy, like many other sciences, is heavily reliant on data analysis. Scientists looking at stars and planets record a multitude of variables including heat signatures, brightness levels, radiation, and even high level chemistry equations. As a result, it’s not too difficult to see how scientists make discoveries much later than the data shows.

In 2009, the space observatory, Kepler, named for early astronomer Johannes Kepler, was launched with the mission of discovering more exoplanets. Exoplanets are Earth-like planets that orbit stars outside of our solar system. Kepler was extraordinary at its job, almost too good in fact. Using a photometer that monitors the brightness of almost 150,000 stars, as of February of 2014 Kepler has discovered over 900 confirmed planets as well as another 3600 unconfirmed.

Discovering 900 planets out of over 4000 candidates is no small feat, but on February 26, 2014 scientists discovered an astounding 715 new planets from the Kepler’s old existing data via big data analysis. Using a tool called ‘verification by multiplicity’ NASA scientists were able to comb through overwhelming amounts of data with pinpoint accuracy. This sophisticated big data technique has roots partly based in probability and can be used for “wholesale validation” according to Jason Rowe, a member of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).

Thanks to big data analysis, a groundbreaking astronomical discovery has been made. The next question though is “How do we apply this to the business world?” A giant space observatory returning an overwhelming amount of data is not that far off from a company with millions of customers. Using this same principles one could glean industry insights that are invaluable to any company’s success.



Mobile Personalization

Marketing is just like any other tradition here in the United States: as time progresses it begins to change and adapt to new trends that emerge. In 2014, the marketing world has had a lot of new developments thanks to the innovations such as mobile apps, social media, big data breakthroughs, and other discoveries. As a result, there has been a noticeable shift in how marketers create their strategies to promote products and services. Today, we will discuss 3 of these new marketing trends that have emerged in 2014.

1. Don’t Just Personalize, Hyper-Personalize In 2013, personalization was the name of the marketing game. How was this accomplished exactly? By tracking spending habits and recording clicks while signed in to their website. Then the companies would take that information and use it to send personalized offers via email, text or through the website. Hyperpersonalization takes this one step further. By integrating various existing data sets such as personal information and social media data, companies are able to know more about their customers than just their spending data. For example, utilizing information from Susan’s Facebook page, a company might be able to learn that Susan is expecting a baby in a few months and to send her offers for baby clothes. Hyperpersonalization is like knowing what the customer wants before they actually want it

2. Measure Social Media ROI Accurately Measuring ROI from social media in the past has been anything but exact. Every company that has invested in social media has had a different method of measuring the effectiveness of their social media efforts with varied results. In the past, companies measured their social media success by how much revenue it directly generated for them. While this may work for other marketing avenues, it may not necessarily work for social media. In 2014, measuring social media ROI has evolved from looking at revenue generated to the buzz that is created from the efforts put in. Creating buzz around a company will increase a company’s audience and engagement by increasing word of mouth; hence the word “viral”. Understanding how to optimize content to go viral is key in the success of social media implementation.

Mobile Personalization

3. Real Time Geographic Marketing Geographic marketing is not a new innovation. It has been around since the early days albeit in a more primitive fashion; for example, a large billboard perched above a building has an arrow which points down, indicating it is a restaurant to stop at while driving. Over the past few years email has been the primary source of geographic marketing by sending offers to customers within certain distances from companies. In 2014 this will be taken one step further. With the rise in mobile device usage, real-time geographic marketing will be employed by sending SMS messages or emails to customers’ mobile devices when they are certain distance from a company. So if I am in a mall looking for a gift, I might get an SMS on my phone alerting me that a clothing store in the same mall has a sale. That is the power and convenience or geographic marketing.

Marketing will always have a place in any business strategy because it is the most basic form of communicating with potential customers. The best way to look at is summed up in the expression: “The players haven’t changed, but the game has.” By staying on top of the newest developments one can expect to enjoy the benefits of being top of mind.