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In The News
The Pathway to Customer-Centric Direct Digital Marketing

March 4, 2010

Published by Retail TouchPoints
Written by Brian Deagan

Approaching an audience as customers with common attributes instead of data on a list, is crucial, and easy with a universal profile management system. “Customer-centric” is a favorite buzzword in marketing. While the term is often bandied about, finding the pathway to transform traditional methods into customer-centric marketing is elusive. Perhaps it is even intimidating. A customer-centric approach in marketing sounds great, but what is a pathway to achieving it? The pathway starts with a new way of thinking and the software that supports a new approach. The new way of thinking is direct digital marketing; the supporting software is a universal profile management system.

Traditional direct marketing often has relied on a list-based mentality. The data on the list is used to inform relevant, personalized marketing through a single communications channel. Direct digital marketing uses a profile-based strategy. The myriad customer attributes contained within a profile inform a deeper, richer relevant and personalized marketing communication delivered through the primary direct digital marketing channels of email, Web and mobile. To leverage the capabilities of direct digital marketing best, a universal profile management system is recommended.

A universal profile management system is simple. It has the ability to capture and store both known customer attributes like past purchase history and behavioral attributes like click path and keyword search activity. A universal profile management system lives in the same software that executes multi-channel marketing communications. It is not designed to replace Web analytics. Rather, its purpose is to better use the existing data to fluidly communicate in a relevant way with customers and prospects through multiple channels.

Most marketers think in terms of lists, not profiles. As a result, some difficulties arise in how best to approach the customer. For example, if one customer is on five separate lists, it is difficult to find the common traits and coordinate the marketing messages. Therefore, one customer can easily receive five different messages from the same company. Communications may be superficially relevant to the recipient from the marketer’s perspective, but the lack of coordination ultimately undermines those efforts.

The above example demonstrates how marketers must adjust their thinking from lists to profiles. The same customer should have one profile that contains each of the five traits that define them. Eliminating a trait or failing to take one into account is a major blow to relevance and the development of a long-term, profitable relationship. Instead of beginning the planning process by identifying what lists are owned, begin by identifying the key attributes customers share.

Consumer habits are rapidly shifting, and the linear possibilities inherent to a list-based approach make a consumer feel devalued, and unenthusiastic about engagement. Lists force customers into having only one notable attribute — exclusively from a marketing perspective — and fail to successfully unlock the enormous selling and relationship potential within well-executed direct digital marketing communications.

Adhering to the old guard list approach is limiting because it forces marketing strategies into a bottleneck where only one customer attribute is featured at a time. Orienting the marketing strategy around a universe of profiles takes fact and behavior from multiple touchpoints into account when communicating a transaction, an offer, or an up-sell through any channel.

Improvements in key marketing metrics do not require additional data. Marketers have the data necessary to execute really great direct digital marketing. A universal profile management system, and the shift in thinking that accompanies it, transforms singular marketing into the effective, multi-dimensional communications consumers crave and marketers need to build strong and profitable relationships.

Brian Deagan is the thought-leader behind direct digital marketing and co-founder and CEO of Knotice, a direct digital marketing solutions company. Contact Deagan at For more information about Knotice visit or their blog

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