Customers today have more control over the buying process than marketers. So it’s vital for companies to reach them when they're ready to be engaged. Communications need to be relevant and consistent across all inbound and outbound channels to provide the sort of customer service that will match or surpass the competition.
Many organisations use multichannel marketing to reach customers at the various touch points where consumers interact with brands. These include indirect and direct communication channels throughout all stages of the customer journey. However, companies are still facing challenges in terms of targeted messaging, customer preferences and marketing response.
We recently set students from Regent’s University, London the challenge of using SAS technology to improve customer engagement in today’s digital and multichannel environment. Students provided clever suggestions, covering marketing strategy and processes, marketing analytics, multichannel execution, and digital intelligence engagement.
“It is important to understand the link between data (customer insights) and success (brand loyalty and increased revenue),” said Maja Vik, one of the participants who is studying MSc Digital Marketing and Analytics.
Participating students were majoring in Business Forecasting and MSc Digital Marketing and Analytics, along with the group winners from International Business Week. My colleague Vanessa Porter provided an introduction about what we do at SAS, an explanation on Integrated Marketing Management and a description of the day’s activity.
The challenge for Sunny Days Holidays
The student's project was based on a fictitious holiday company called Sunny Days Holidays (SDH). The company was busy trying to move its business away from a very expensive brochure-based marketing programme to a multichannel programme that engaged customers on other channels to ultimately sell more holidays.
Students were divided into groups of five. While exploring the grounds at SAS, each group met key employees from SDH and asked a series of questions to gather key information about data collection, data management, customer insight and analytics, marketing and sales execution.
The aim was for students to recommend the top three activities SDH should put in place to improve sales and provide a great experience to customers.
“Knowing what SAS is able to achieve in order to help companies to increase sales by delivering the right message to the right person, at the right moment, via the right channel, have helped us to create clear recommendations,” said Emmanuelle Tremolet, studying MSc Digital Marketing and Analytics.
Presenting marketing recommendations
Each student group did a 10-minute presentation (without slides) setting out their recommendations. This gave students a feel of what it’s like to be a pre-sales employee at SAS and was also an opportunity to get a high level understanding of SAS technology.
“It was a great insight into how pre-sales and sales teams operate within a data analytics organisation such as SAS," according to Catriona Natalia Stobie, a first-year student in International Business. "It also allows you to see that companies such as SAS need people from different backgrounds – you don’t need to be an IT expert,” she added.
The results were impressive - students were motivated and enthusiastic, and networked with peers from the different courses. “I enjoyed being able to work with students from different courses at Regent’s University – both postgraduates and undergraduates – and the collaboration of different perspectives and ideas,” said Catriona Natalia Stobie, a first-year student in International Business.
The group winners won a SAS Swiss army card. The recommendations impressed SAS employees. “They demonstrated excellent team works skills by having all members of the team perform sections of the final presentation and provided a very clear summary as to the recommendations and the benefits that could be obtained through the deployment of their proposed solution,” said Andrew Gadsby, Customer Relationship & Escalation Manager at SAS, who was on the judging panel.
He added: “One thing that the teams appeared to be surprised about was how the different SDH employees had very different views on the actual processes existing within SDH, and how these processes supported their part of the business. This is very common in companies and I hope it provided the Regent’s students with a useful taste of dealing with corporate customers, where different departments frequently have different agendas.”
We wish all the students that attended the very best in their future careers and look forward to them spreading the word about the benefits of using SAS Analytics! Together we are bridging the gap between academia and business.
The final word comes from Andrew West, another student studying MSc Digital Marketing and Analytics: “Businesses are becoming more and more data-driven, so knowing more about SAS will be really helpful.”