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At our recent Customer Intelligence Summit in Chicago, we learned how to drive marketing growth by focusing on the right metrics. Dave Blumberg, the former associate manager of advertising insights at ESPN, and Andrea Bonk, CRM and market research coordinator at OSF HealthCare, hosted a breakout session on how customer intelligence can add context and confidence to data-driven decisions.

Here are five top takeaways from ESPN and OSF HealthCare’s Summit session.

  1. Connect your marketing stack

We’re in the midst of an API (application programming interface) revolution and for good reason. Connecting data from different sources provides a more complete picture of the customer, reducing inefficiencies, simplifying processes and uncovering new revenue streams. As more marketers catch on to just how inefficient and ineffective disjointed marketing systems are, they’re beginning to demand better integration.

Blumberg, for example, connects the customer intelligence gained from his ESPN FANography insight community of 5,000 sports fans and ESPN viewers with his existing marketing stack. For example, using his customer relationship management database, he knows which areas of the website members view most, which promotions and ads they’re exposed to and how many times they were exposed. Blumberg combines behavioral CRM data with qualitative responses from FANography to add context to Big Data.

“Through applying what we know about our users from our CRM database and BlueKai (data management platform) segments,” said Blumberg, “we can conduct cross-platform campaign effectiveness surveys using FANography for our premier partners—at a fraction of the time and cost of formal procedures. This confluence of data sources makes our insight community that much more powerful.”

At Summit, Vision Critical announced APIs to make it easier for power users like Blumberg to build a robust marketing stack.

  1. Centralize your customer intelligence

Just like ESPN, OSF HealthCare is connecting processes, rather than replacing them. While the health care organization regularly taps into OSF Listens, its insight community of 4,000 members, Bonk explained how focus groups still play a role in gathering insight for its marketing programs. She hosts focus groups when in-person conversations are helpful, but relies on her community for quick turnaround projects. “To get a fair representation of our regional markets using focus groups,” she said, “we would need to recruit, find venues and host at least eight separate sessions. The time and cost to setup a focus group for each campaign message test would be logistically challenging and financially irresponsible.”

“We need to reach patients and health care consumers at the speed of which the industry is changing,” she explained. Having a direct channel to gather consumer feedback sparked a wave of change across OSF HealthCare. Rather than having individual teams and marketers launch focus groups, customer intelligence has become centralized, making research faster and more efficient.

  1. Prove ROI to your partners and clients

While ESPN’s mission is to ‘serve sports fans, anytime, anywhere,’ the media brand also has to serve its sponsors. By bringing more research in-house as a result of its insight community, ESPN offers a valuable negotiating piece to help drive multi-year, multi-million dollar investments. Blumberg explained that his clients value the brand’s ability to access the voice of the customer by having a direct connection with sports fans who consume ESPN media. As a cross-platform media company, ESPN aims to keep a finger on the pulse of what audiences want to consume and how—and can prove it to clients.

  1. Double down on successful campaigns

Having direct access to 5,000 sports fans and ESPN users means that Blumberg can double down on successful marketing campaigns in real time. He has the flexibility to tap into consumer reactions as they happen and use that customer feedback to extend campaigns or pivot to a new, customer-approved idea. For example, to understand if fans still enjoyed NBA Christmas Day promotions, which featured Santa Claus at NBA press conferences, the brand turned to the FANography community. Customer intelligence showed that fans not only liked the campaign, they wanted more of it.

  1. Do more with less

When multiplied by the sheer number of campaigns OSF HealthCare could run per year, and the approximately $40,000 they could spend using an outside creative agency for the creative development, they’re saving upwards of $160,000, if not more.

Without its insight community, OSF HealthCare would have to test its ad concepts through intercept research, most likely through interviews, in-person surveys or focus groups. For each major campaign, this strategy would cost approximately $20,000 to conduct the research in each market. This may not seem like a lot, but when multiplied by the sheer number of campaigns OSF HealthCare could run per year, and the approximately $40,000 they could spend using an outside creative agency for the creative development, they’re saving upwards of $160,000, if not more.

This doesn’t make financial sense and removes resources from other essential projects. With her insight community, Bonk can tap into customer intelligence easily, often and more affordably.

Stay tuned for more actionable takeaways from our 2016 Customer Intelligence Summit.

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