Data-Driven Marketer Series: David Norton

July 27, 2013

TrueLens sat down with David Norton, former CMO of Harrah’s & Caesars Entertainment and newly minted EVP of Customer Analytics & Insights at MDC Partners to discuss the latest trends in data-driven marketing.

TrueLens: Describe your new role at MDC.
David Norton: So the new role at MDC is predicated on being able to use data and be better at analytics. MDC owns 50 agencies across the country, across all the different disciplines. So a couple things we are trying to do: one is to help the agencies be more analytically inclined to serve their clients, two is to have a more integrated approach across disciplines working with the clients, and three is to build a stand alone CRM analytics practice.

TL: How has the role of the CMO changed in your career?
DN: Well of course I’m bias, I think the CMO is absolutely critical. At my time at Harrah’s and Caesars for better or worse if the revenues were there the CMO got a lot of credit and if they weren’t the CEO expected me to fix the problems. Especially in the casino industry, marketing drives a lot of the revenue, that is directly correlated, and we can measure that. But ultimately I think the CMO has to drive change, they have to understand technology. There are a lot of data and reports out their that the CMO is going to drive a lot more technology decisions. They really should be the key senior management members. And retail evolving from a merchandise focus to having a marketer who can be a key member of the team is going to be really critical.

TL: What’s the value of social data?
DN: So the transactional data and then some demographics you have about how old people are, where they live, which stores do they go to, which product and such. So it gives you a good overview within your company about that person and what social data allows you to do is understand the person more holistically. What they are doing, how big is their social network, but also what are they thinking about with your competitors. As an example with Anthropologie, if somebody is talking about Restoration Hardware that gives us insight that they maybe like our competitor more than Anthropologie. What do we do to try to engender loyalty from them?

TL: How can marketers improve their data-driven programs?
DN: Just broadly speaking I think there is still a lot of intuition in terms of how people run their business and how they feel they know about the customer and merchandise, whatever the case may be. So part of it is having from a top down more of an analytic-orientated approach to balance the intuition piece, so I think that’s important. People are still very product focused and merchandise focused and what you really want to do is combine a customer-centric knowledge with product and that’s where I  think the sweet spot is.

TL: How can marketers apply social data?
DN: So I think a lot of people are doing well. They know that social is important, but I do think that it’s more at channel level as opposed to that customer-centric level. People are getting more sophisticated around the channel realizing it’s a key tool in their arsenal, and there are more channels available to marketers. In terms of that next level, with TrueLens, what we are trying to do is that customer-level social data and building out that profile and understanding more about that person as well as understanding that value of a social network. Somebody that influences 500 people, are they worth a lot more that someone who doesn’t?


TL: How do data-driven marketers define success?
DN: I think there are a few ways. I think one is just creating a culture where people are talking about data, people are analytically inquisitive. Part of it is just cultural. The efficiency of marketing is another key metric. So there are a number of KPIs you can think about all the way down to the nitty gritty to higher level. But ultimately it’s about creating shareholder equity value because you are generating more loyalty from customers and improving your profitability.


TL: What advice do you have for data-driven marketers?
DN: I think that you have to have a vision of where you want to go, but then it is absolutely critical to get wins along the way. So if you have a 12 or 18-month project where you are trying to get somewhere, you are going to lose momentum and people are going to ask what are you doing if you are not driving results. You have to find a way to get momentum, build up those relationships internally especially with the CIO, nurture relationships with operators, do pilots, whatever it is to gain success and momentum. Then people will start to get excited that this vision isn’t some strategic naval-gazing exercise. It is actually is a way to change the business and make it better without threatening what’s great about the business.


TL: What makes TrueLens unique?
DN: In terms of the differences it really is an ability to mine the big data, it’s comfort in the technology space based on both the new business and the track record of the management team. I think those are critical, it’s not just capturing data for data’s sake. It’s how do you turn it into action with customer-level social data. I think that is really the sweet spot that very few people are leveraging yet. TrueLens is on the front edge of that working with some big clients with some positive results that people should take a look at and explore.

Categories: Customer Intelligence, Marketing Technology, Socialgraphics, Thought Leaders