Using Interactive Content Data in Marketing Automation

ion interactive CEO, Justin Talerico

ion interactive CEO, Justin Talerico

The deep data that comes from the digital dialogue with interactive content is incredible. Really, that’s not hyperbole. It’s mind-blowing, market-making, sales-empowering go-go juice of the highest order. But how do we do something with all that incredibleness?

Two Users of Interactive Content Data: People and Machines

There are two vastly different ways to use interactive content data. One is human, the other is software. For humans to use data, it must have context and be understandable. When data has value, context, and is understandable, it earns the old 'actionable' adjective. For people to use data, it must be actionable. That can be hard to come by.

Machines, Mashups and Haymaking

But for software to leverage interactive content data is much easier. That's because software can read and deduce data that would make little sense to you and I. Marketing automation and CRM software platforms can instantly act on mashups of key behaviors and choices delivered from interactive content. This enables segmentation, targeting, personalization and scoring on explicit user data without the luxuries of context and plain-language translation.

Passing high-value insight around via mashup makes integration and synchronization much more realistic. First of all, assuming you run a marketing automation platform, your interactive content data really only needs to go there — one system, one integration. And, because a mashup is imported as a single field, that’s pretty straightforward as well. Most of us can deal with one field (It’s 20, 30, 40 or 50 fields that give us palpitations.).

Again, assuming that you’re running Eloqua, Marketo or Pardot — data-driven segmentation and automation are at your fingertips. If your mashup contains X, do Y is the basic formula for turning the data you collect into everything you need to automate.

Deciding What and How to Mashup

Getting a mashup of user choices and behaviors to our marketing automation platform will yield actionable data points. Deciding what to include in our mashup is really the only outstanding question. To illustrate the process, I’d like to take a look at how I decided what was valuable and how to mashup the data coming out of ion’s own Demand Metric Content Marketing Assessment. The interactive content in the assessment was based on primary research that we sponsored and Demand Metric conducted.

We get a lot of insights out of our Content Marketing Assessment. Here’s the rundown of what it ultimately collects from thousands of users:

  1. Where does their content rate on a six-step scale from passive to interactive
  2. Which stage of the buyer’s journey is most important to them — early, middle, late
  3. How effective is their content on five axes:
    1. Educating their buyers
    2. Differentiating from their competitors
    3. Getting shared socially
    4. Converting buyers to act
    5. Generating organic/SEO traffic
  4. How well do they measure the effectiveness of their content — five-step scale
  5. Five-step scale rating of six key pain points/objections (disagree to agree):
    1. “I don’t have time to create interactive content”
    2. “Interactive content takes too long to bring to market”
    3. “I need input and ideas to make interactive content”
    4. “I don’t have the design and development resources to create interactive content”
    5. “I don’t have executive buy-in to prioritize interactive content”
    6. “I don’t have budget to create interactive content”

To surface all of that to our sales team in our CRM — which is ultimately who needs it — would take the work of a thousand years. Can it be done? Sure. But the cost/benefit of making it a usable reality would get pretty tenuous, pretty fast. And, when you consider that we run tons of interactive content experiences that collect hundreds of data points, the prospect of exporting and contextualizing all that data in the CRM is just plain nuts.

So let’s get back to mashing up for marketing automation. A mashup is simply a bunch of data from disparate fields mashed up into a single blob. No human — with the possible exception of Raymond Babbitt — would want to read the blob. But, like Rain Man, a MAP is uniquely suited to take that blob of answers, make sense of it and act on it.

A mashup may look a bit scary, but it's really just a bunch of data points thrown into a blob of data. This is the mashup coming from our Demand Metric Content Marketing Assessment. It's automatically exported into an ion insights field within our marketing automation platform. From there, we segment, target, score and personalize using automation rules. We can also programmatically surface plain-language insights to our sales team.

A mashup may look a bit scary, but it's really just a bunch of data points thrown into a blob of data. This is the mashup coming from our Demand Metric Content Marketing Assessment. It's automatically exported into an ion insights field within our marketing automation platform. From there, we segment, target, score and personalize using automation rules. We can also programmatically surface plain-language insights to our sales team.

Big picture, we export a single mashup of ‘ion insights‘ for each interactive content experience. A field is setup in our marketing automation platform as a high-capacity text area (so it can have a lot of data in it). And, it’s setup to record and preserve multiple submissions (keep a history of submitted values, rather than replace the previous value with the latest one). Every one of our interactive experiences exports to the same MAP field, so we haven’t created an ongoing integration or maintenance nightmare. Whenever we launch a new interactive content experience, we append the ion insights mashup with the new answers we want included. That’s it. The only other need is to create rules on the MAP side to leverage the data.

In the case of our Content Marketing Assessment, we mashup the answers to all of the questions (see above). Every time someone completes the assessment, their answers are automatically sent to the MAP. Automation rules in the MAP then trigger to segment, score and surface the warmest leads to sales. Sales can pickup the dialogue where the digital content left off — knowing the prospect’s needs and objectives.

So here’s how those interactive content answers from the mashup look within our marketing automation platform. Everything you see is easily actionable using automation rules, segmentation rules and scoring rules. All from a single field!

So here’s how those interactive content answers from the mashup look within our marketing automation platform. Everything you see is easily actionable using automation rules, segmentation rules and scoring rules. All from a single field!

I’ll get into some of the rules and actions we use in the MAP to leverage our mashup in a future post. And, I’ll show you how to surface the digital dialogue for human consumption — i.e. sales — in another post. And, of course, aside from using the data in external systems like the MAP and CRM, all that data and much more is used within our platform to dynamically increase the relevance of future touchpoints.

See, “mind-blowing, market-making, sales-empowering go-go juice of the highest order” really isn’t hyperbole.