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Yahoo's senior marketer tells you to use EDM (kinda)

I was reading this interesting McKinsey report - Confronting proliferation ... in online media: An interview with Yahoo!’s senior marketer. In this report Cammie Dunaway, CMO for Yahoo, talks about how Yahoo is coping with the explosion of choices and distractions available to a typical online consumer. The interview is very interesting and if you are thinking about how your marketing organization needs to change in the face of the changing attitudes and activities of consumers, this would be good to read. So, why do I think Cammie tells you to use EDM? Well, remember the core outcomes of EDM are to increase the precision, consistency and agility of decisions (while controlling speed and cost). All three of these come up in Cammie's discussion:

  • Precision
    She talks a lot about behavioral data mining - using information collected about how customers really behave to predict their likely future behavior and then use it to treat them better. This kind of predictive analytic approach drives precision. She makes the point that you must understand each consumer as an individual and this means a focus on each customer treatment decision as an opportunity to target that consumer.
  • Consistency
    Cammie highlights the importance of consistency in targeting hypertasking/multi-channel consumers. You must think about all the channels, all the interactions your customers have with you. In particular, she made the point that customer care should be part of marketing. Applying EDM across both marketing and customer care is what we call taking the Best Next Action.
  • Agility
    In the interview, the need to constantly evolve came up several times. Cammie was particularly focused on fostering intellectual curiosity among marketers to keep trying new things. I would argue that the kind of agility she discussed also requires adaptive control. She talks about using digital salons to try out new ideas with targeted customers but unless the results from there are analyzed and used to improve things (the essence of adaptive control) then all will be for naught.

In addition she has a general focus on measurement (very EDM-like) and makes a point that one of the things making this harder is the unprecedented choice consumers have (something written about in the Long Tail and blogged about in Hits and Niches). As an aside Cammie's background is in Consumer Branded Goods and she talks about these companies starting to do this too - regular readers of the blog (over 800 of you now) will remember Coke's development of MyCoke (a classic EDM implementation) in this context.

Finally Cammie describes the role of the CMO as "driving profitable growth by unlocking customer insights" - a wonderful summary. If you need to do this by applying customer insight in high-volume, operational transactions then EDM will work for you.

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