“I’ve always believed that anything fuelled by data, whether you’re trying to win an argument over dinner or building a business case to invest in marketing, means you have a lot more grounds to stand on.”
Sisca Margaretta, chief marketing officer of Experian Asia Pacific (APAC), speaks from experience on this. While it was already a maxim of hers before joining the company, the numbers Experian crunch to deliver its product, as well as additional services to clients, means the maxim has turned into a mantra.
“Working in Experian, I’ve seen how even more powerful data, and insights from data, could be,” Margaretta tells MarketingTech. “We’re using our own internal platforms and capabilities that we provide to customers to make sure that we derive more insights from data, on every touchpoint across the marketing spectrum.”
While best known for its credit reporting on the consumer side, Experian offers various services for businesses, from identity and security, to precision marketing and, of course, offering dynamic analytics tools to ‘create unique insight’, as the company puts it.
As far back as 2014, the company was touting its best-in-class big data analytics work, with DataLabs, Experian’s specialist team of data scientists, at the fore. While many marketing campaigns are often the result of customer demand, prevention is often better than cure – not least to beat customer expectations. Whether providing market insight or consumer insight, whichever channel the customer desires, it is important for Margaretta to stay one step ahead.
“If we are proponents and custodians of data, we should know just how much more powerful it is,” says Margaretta. “Obviously [it is] driving more opportunities for us and for organisations as a business, but it’s also that ability to improve customer experience through more personalised initiatives.”
“There is an expectation,” Margaretta adds. “We’ve not got that from the customer feedback that we’ve been getting, but I’m interpreting that as ‘we’re doing something right.’ If we didn’t do it, then they would have complained – you’re a data analytics company, you should know your customers better.”
Another part of this proactive approach is through an upcoming audit of the 14 websites Experian has covering its APAC region. One of Margaretta’s first jobs coming into Experian was to assess and revamp the online estate, to make for a more intuitive customer journey. “We had no basis in terms of what was a good digital marketing result,” she says. “Year one was all about establishing baselines, trying out all campaigns, failing fast, learning fast, and moving on.
“We’re embarking again on reviewing our websites because Experian has moved so much, and expanded so much of the business,” Margaretta adds. “We’ve invested in quite a few acquisitions and ventures, and our business is not the same as three years ago, so it’s time again to look at what is a more reflective customer journey and representation of our business to our first touchpoint, which is the website.”
Three years ago, not only was consumer expectation different, but also consumer knowledge. As data has blossomed, so has data literacy. With great power, Margaretta warns, comes great responsibility – and it is something any CMO or prospective boss should be considering.
“There is great sophistication among marketers these days, amongst my colleagues in the industry, in terms of the power of data, but our digital footprint actually means we are amassing data, and consumers are amassing data, across so many different touchpoints, whether it is structured or unstructured,” Margaretta explains. “With that, there is more consumer demand for better protection, regulations, and responding to that in terms of making sure the consumer is in control.
“Maybe I’m talking especially as the marketer for a data analytics company, but we just need to make sure there is that customer protection of privacy and data, and the responsible use of it.”
While Margaretta notes Experian does not do many events – the company’s VISION2020 APAC conference in Singapore took place the week after our discussion – she will be speaking at Digital Marketing World Forum later this year, in Singapore on December 2-3. The primary topic of conversation will be customer-centricity – and as Margaretta notes, it needs to be the most important focus, with technology and digital investment being a complement rather than a distraction.
“Let’s face it, it’s been a journey for all of us in terms of investing in digital and making sure we embark on this journey,” says Margaretta. “There’s been a prolific amount of digital tools and investment; what are the results and what are the so-called best practices?
“I’m hoping that in my session I can shed light around what customer-centricity means; obviously it’s not a new thing, it’s something that marketers have been talking about for decades. How can we actually invest in the right digital tools to make sure that it links back to the solving of a customer challenge or improving the customer experience?”
Picture credit: Experian
Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?