From Direct Mail to Predictive Intelligence: Riding the Technology Wave

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Makers of Modern Marketing: Bence Gazdag

Welcome back to the Makers of Modern Marketing at Oracle! A new blog series dedicated to the drivers, architects, and risk-takers behind marketing at Oracle to give readers a peek into how they are applying our own products to drive innovation and build the future of digital marketing.

This week we got to chat with Bence Gazdag the Senior Director for Global Marketing Demand Center and Technology at Oracle about the many shifts he has witnessed in data-driven methodology and customer-centric marketing over his nearly 19-year stint at Oracle.  

Since coming to Oracle in 1999, Gazdag has had the unique opportunity to watch the company grow and evolve from the inside. Today, he oversees a team of 170 employees running the Global Marketing Demand Center, a shared services function that provides support globally to marketers facilitating the seamless execution of campaigns. This team spans the globe—from India to Argentina to Bozeman, Montana—covering over 40,000 execution pieces per year.

In addition, Gazdag’s team runs technology and data, customer tools and development, as well as, innovation, which means they are charged with building their own tools to power their products and systems and that they run their own databases, including the Customer Experience Database. To say Bence Gazdag is a busy man would be an understatement, but after close to two decades, Oracle’s ever-changing environment has a way of always keeping him fascinated.

“[Your customer] shouldn’t feel like they’re talking to a different person every time they pick up the phone.”

Customer Data Quality Board

We touched on the importance of quality data over sheer quantity with Patrick McGavock last time, now with Gazdag we are able to delve into who determines the standard for data quality.

Around 2005, Gazdag saw an opportunity for Oracle to gain a greater, more consistent understanding of how data is categorized across the company for improved business alignment. His solution? The Customer Data Quality Governance Board, which set up the standard against which data is ranked at Oracle. In his words it is “a cross-functional governance board at Oracle that has owners from finance, support, sales, marketing—basically, all LOB's come together to agree on common data quality standards, common data definitions.” As the Founder and Chair of the CDQ governance board, Gazdag facilitated the creation and maintenance of this “master” record of rules and standards for different data attributes. Though he has stepped down from his role as Chair, Gazdag remains an active member and is still heavily involved in what the future of data quality will look like.

Gazdag guides us to the larger view of this endeavor: personalization. Providing an outstanding customer experience hinges on a deep understanding of customer behavior, in order to supply content that is timely, relevant and attractive:

“People have a shorter attention span and when they are engaging with content, then they want to engage with a lot of content and they want to binge on the content right there in the moment vs waiting on delivery the next piece.”

It is no longer enough to just get prospects to click on an ad or email, they need to be given the option to engage immediately, then once they are customers they must be treated respectfully as an individual. “You have to merge your customer support, your sales, your marketing interactions, and engagement points so that you can have a confluent view and experience…[your customer] shouldn’t feel like they’re talking to a different person every time they pick up the phone,” says Gazdag, tying it back to the business alignment he envisioned when he founded the CDQ board.

Predictive is The Future

Shortly after joining Oracle, Gazdag got his first taste of Oracle’s propensity to embrace new tech, “Our CMO back then said, basically from one day to another, ‘We’re going to stop doing all direct mail and traditional marketing and advertising and we’re going to switch over to this thing called e-mail marketing.’” And with that, they switched in a matter of weeks.

Now, with a keen eye on the horizon, Gazdag is excited about the possibilities AI, machine learning and predictive intelligence hold for the future of modern marketing. The latest step in Oracle’s journey is using machine learning for lead scoring purposes, leveraging marketing and sales data to optimize lead scoring for conversion. “That’s been proving very promising results,” says Gazdag, his sights already set on scaling this and other burgeoning platforms.

Gazdag has also been monitoring the progression of predictive intelligence, which activates both external and internal data sources. There are three key components in effective predictive intelligence platforms, according to Gazdag: fit, intent and engagement. In short, they gather and analyze data to determine key indicators for each point, then overlay that data to find out exactly when and which products to approach a prospect with. “We’re seeing two to four times increase in win rates.” As both account and individual digital footprints swell in size, Oracle steps up with computing power, keeping in mind data privacy restrictions that are under constant re-write with each change in the market.

These concepts can put some marketers on edge, though, will there be a point when machines can do it all and us marketers are obsolete? Gazdag isn’t worried, “Machine learning is a tool to help you digest and understand vast amounts of data and provide you with recommendations and decision points that can empower you as a marketer, to be way more nimble and way smarter with your marketing strategies. It's a tool that you need to be able to use.” It behooves us marketers to strive to understand all the different kinds of tools out there now, while the technology is in its infancy, to maximize our own capabilities.

“You don't have to be a PHD data-driven scientist to be a good marketer who's using data or machine learning…but you need to understand the concepts and how to leverage it as a power tool.”

A Marketer’s Tool Kit

It takes a versatile, ambitious and open-minded person to survive with one company through its many ebbs and flows (or downright tidal wave shifts), Gazdag has done it with marked success. He is a strong proponent of agile marketing, in fact he was featured in the book The Agile Marketer, which details a style of working that emphasizes flexibility and an openness to change within projects and plans. Gazdag suggests having a constant feedback loop with your customer to understand what they want and ensure that you are delivering on that, then adjusting regularly to provide the best results and experience.  

Gazdag encourages marketers in this data-driven world to broaden their scopes and gain at least a general grasp of data analytics and statistics, “You don't have to be PHD data driven scientist to be a good marketer who's using data or machine learning…but you need to understand the concepts and how to leverage it as a power tool.” It is essential both for understanding how best to leverage data in unique situations, but also how best to ensure that we are using customer data respectfully.

On a personal level, the freedom to function in this way is one of the main things that has kept Gazdag with Oracle for so long. It also helps that the technology stack he has access to “is a modern technology marketer’s dream.” The constant change in technology allows him to be forever learning and growing and innovating.

Besides these, perhaps, more obvious up sides, Gazdag sites another reason he has stayed put: the people. Recalling some of his first meetings back in 1999, “eight out of 10 people would be from a different country, had a different accent. They were all incredibly smart. That was just so impressive to me at the time, still is, that you've got some of the best and the brightest people from all over the world at the company that you can work with on a daily basis. That's pretty amazing.”

Are you ready to get the most out of your data but don't have a data management strategy? Download Maximize Your Marketing to learn how to use the right data at the right time to drive real results.

SEO and online marketing have been a passion of mine for 20+ years and I pride myself on helping clients at a budget prices to fit any and all needs.

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