Understand the Tool
When thinking about data in Oracle Responsys, it’s important to remember what Responsys is and is not. Responsys is a high-powered, state-of-the-art marketing orchestration and distribution platform. What it is not, in any way, is a data management or customer lifecycle data platform. This means that it is not designed to function as an ETL environment, a long-term data warehouse for holistic data, or any other variation on that theme. With that in mind, there are some key areas we should always keep in mind when dealing with data in Responsys.
Many marketers, wisely, maintain mountains of data on their customers. Where do they like to shop? What is their base demo? How often do they shop? The catch-22 of this is that it becomes very difficult to decide what data is useful and what is not, especially when it comes to historical data. Sure, you know Aaron’s shopping habits all the way back to 2002, but is that really helpful to us today? When it comes to historical data, determining what is and is not useful has to be a bit customized to the seller, but there are some good rules of thumb.
For interaction data (what are they clicking on, opening, etc…) A good guideline is to focus on data that’s no older than 120-180 days. For things like purchase history, nothing beats a good RFM analysis, but failing that, keeping your focus as close as 90 days or more recent will allow for much better audience creation. If you’re tracking where your customers are purchasing, ask yourself, do you need to communicate with folks about purchases older than 60 days? Of course, this will always be customized to your particular business, but for many B2C retailers, these are a good place to start.
What is Useful Data?
In a tool like Responsys, which has very few guard rails for what you put into it, it’s important to keep an eye on what’s actually “good” data. For Responsys, this means, what is data we can use to segment on or personalize to? We don’t want to crowd up the account with things like one-time data or data we “totally might use one day, I swear!” For example, if I’m a clothing retailer, I know I want to keep track of things like purchase history, purchase channel, engagement history, product types and catalogue, etc… But, I might also want to be looking at a more granular level. For that, it might make sense to create a Profile Extension Table (PET) to track what specific product categories my customers purchase. If Lily is often buying intimates, but not footwear, that’s a targeted ad I can make just for her. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s probably not at all useful for me to hold on to information from a sweepstakes or survey I ran 15 years ago. That data is almost certainly no longer relevant, and I’m not likely to ever use it in Responsys.
Last on our list of hot-button Responsys data topics is keeping your account clean. The first, and often not as obvious, task to really keep this in line is to maintain and update a commonly stored Data Dictionary document. This should really list out every table in your account, every column in every table the possible values for that column, and/or a brief description of the use for that data point. This document should not just be something done to keep the Project Managers happy. This should be a living breathing document of all the data on your account. A secondary benefit to this document is that it can help with hygiene by preventing unnecessary duplicate tables or data points from being created, as it should absolutely be referenced every time you create a new Profile List, PET, or Supplemental Data Table.
Customizing and Keeping your Data Health
The above notes are obviously not comprehensive. Every business is unique, and will need to create their own unique processes for maintaining a clean, healthy Responsys instance. However, if you put in the time and effort, follow steps like the above, you’ll see myriad benefits including but not limited to: Better list creation and distribution time, faster Programs, better and more accurate personalization, and generally more sane marketers on your team! If this all seems daunting, remember, you’re not alone, and the payoff will be worth it. And if you need help, you can always find it by reaching out to Relationship One.
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