We all know we’re living in an era of big data and that the amount we’re generating is growing exponentially, but this is nothing new. However, what is new is the type of data that is now accessible (such as unstructured data in the form of images, text and video) and the tools available to understand it.


Historically data has been used to plan and manage the operational side of business. It was costly to gather and store, and unwieldly to manage. It was kept in departmental silos and under the lock and key of the IT department. Yet as technology has advanced, it’s now easier and cheaper to gather, store and use as a strategic asset.


The following three companies have tapped into their data in new and innovative ways to add value to their businesses. Here we take a look at how they’ve done it:


1. Using data for personalised marketing

How the Coca-Cola Company used data to personalise its marketing strategy


The Coca-Cola Company traditionally didn’t have a lot of data about its customers because of the way it sells its products - through intermediaries such as shops, restaurants and vending machines. Yet its Director of Data Strategy, Mike Weaver, set out to use data to understand Coke’s customers’ passions, preferences and behaviours, so the business could market to them as individuals.


He gathered data from five main sources: the “My Coke Rewards” program (with 20 million worldwide members), cookie stitching, social authentication, observed behaviour on its online properties and from purchased data; to create robust profiles around the majority of its customers. With this data, Coke’s marketing team was able to personalise its marketing strategy in the following ways:


  1. Use predictive analytics to show which demographics to target ads and where to target them.
  2. Create advanced segmentation based on behavioural data, rather than the traditional demographic buckets of ‘baby boomers’, ‘millennials’ etc.
  3. Produce multiple hyper-versioning ads, where it created 20 different versions of the same ad, tested responses to each, and showed differing ad to different segments.
  4. Able to respond to customers in the moment, in real time.
  5. Create a joined up omnichannel experience for customers for a relevant continuous experience.
data can add value



2. Joined up data for a single customer view

How British Airways used integrated data to improve its customer experience


British Airways has gathered data around four areas of its business for many years; commercial data about sales and purchasing, operational data about its flights arrival and departure times, engineering systems data about maintaining the aircrafts it flies, and loyalty program data collected from its frequent fliers’ scheme.


It realised that these data sets would be more valuable if they were integrated, rather than maintained in silos, so it built a data warehouse to create a single view of its customer. It can now monitor each flyer, on each trip to build a picture of their individual experiences. This single view of the customer has enabled BA to improve its service in the following ways:


  1. The on-board staff can now access information about their passengers in real time, helping them to personalise their customers’ journeys. For example, frequent business class fliers, spotted travelling in economy with their family, can be given a complimentary glass of champagne or something special for their children to reward them for their loyalty, or silver tier status fliers can now be met in person at the airport.
  2. BA recognises that it can’t get its service right 100% all of the time. So, in the times when things do go wrong, it can use data to connect its staff from different departments in real time, to resolve issues, such as lost baggage.
  3. Data is also used to reward and motivate passengers in varying ways, such as if staff are aware of a passenger’s fear of flying, they may spend more time with them before and after take-off to reassure them.


3. Data as a strategic asset

How the New York Times used data to change its business model


Traditionally, like most print media, the NYT was organised around two streams of business – its editorial (the stories and content) and revenue (raised through advertising). The two sides were kept separate for the sake of editorial independence. Yet when the NYT moved its content and advertising online it soon recognised that technology it used could enhance both strands of its business.


It built an infrastructure designed to track every user across its website, mobile website, app and social channel. This enabled the media company to understand its readers in ways never possible from its print-only business; and it capitalised on this data using it in five new ways:


  1. It used predictive analytics to determine which subscribers were at risk of not renewing, by identifying those rarely logging-on to its site, or those not looking at as many sections as they once did. It sales team can intervene just before renewal to offer these users an incentive to keep subscribing.
  2. It experimented with new advertising formats, including investing in an in-house native advertising team. Staffed by editorially trained journalists, the team work with advertisers to create branded content targeted to segments of their audience. One piece entitled ‘Women Inmates’, paid for by Netflix, was the second most popular piece read on NYT’s site in 2014.
  3. It used data to optimise the delivery of its physical papers. It found better routes for its delivery drivers, giving them shorter journeys from A to B.
  4. The editorial team can now identify stories that are more popular/being read by segments of their audience by location. It can translate these articles into different languages so it can reach wider communities.
  5. The NYT has improved the reach of its editorial by using sequencing data to determine which story to publish online, on social or on print first, at what time and with which headline.


ORM’s view


Having a clear data strategy is fundamental to helping develop an understanding of your customers and how they interact with your digital brand. It’s important that a digital KPI framework is developed that ties back to the business objectives, and that data is continually evaluated to measure the effectiveness of digital change and enhancement. The holy grail of 360 degree view of the customer remains just that for many organisations, particularly large ones where entrenched data siloes and differing departmental needs and objectives often prevent effective integration. Putting in place a digital customer view is often easier to achieve, and at the very least means the digital customer can be better understood and marketed to.


If you’d like to know more, feel free to get in touch!