I love this quote from the movie “Draft Day,” when Kevin Costner says, “We live in a different world than we did 30 seconds ago.” Fact is, we are — things are moving so fast that our options and opinions may shift quickly. In such challenging times, here are some interesting innovations and goodies you should seek out.

My Inbox: Big Data is really small data — but more of it. To keep pace, email monitoring tools are much more robust than they’ve ever been. Want to evaluate if an email got put in the SPAM Folder, images were rendered properly, or how it looks on 200 devices? No problem. Want to evaluate what your competitors are doing at similar times? No problem. Everything’s become much more intuitive — not only the data, but how you access it.

Data has always been a incremental expense decision, but accessing these sources is no longer a three-month project — it takes just days. The accuracy of the data has increased by a magnitude, if you know how to use it.

With email as the universal primary key for most things you access online, you can add value to an email address with household information, or even participate in a consortium of other retailers that shares data to know what your customer is doing. Reverse Appends are still useful, as is appending data from demographic or psychographic elements, or with info as far-stretching as a consumer’s propensity to do something.

Social targeting: Previously, the best attempt you could make at social targeting was hoping people LIKED you and followed you. Facebook has helped open up the world of advertising to the CRM person and now it’s not if, it’s a matter of how much do you want to spend, and how often — and making sure your goals align to what you are paying for. But reaching people on social organically as well as paid is not a lofty goal any more.

Real-Time is really near-real-time. Today, you have options for real-time content, you even have options for near-real-time machine learning, and you can even program automations better to react to predicted behaviors. Doesn’t mean we are truly real-time yet, we aren’t driving artificial intelligence, rather pre-programmed decisions based on what we predict might happen. The realtime side comes when you can build experiments based on that and do it at scale.

Reporting has moved past Excel, if you have the budget. Today there are so many dashboarding options available, it’s almost a crime not to have a better way of viewing how you are spending your money than combing through Excel files.

Mobile is the wave we’re coming to grips with today from the email side. Tracking the device- and place-shifting consumer is like trying to grab a handful of jello from a bowl. Best most can do is look at and appreciate it, because when you dig in, it’s difficult to see patterns, predict trends and make decisions. But the tools have advanced past just campaign views of mobile behavioral. Some help map the journey, some have super-granular device data and combined device usage. All of which make things easier, assuming you have realistic goals to accomplish for mobile data.

Happy shopping.

Originally posted @ MediaPost.com ( http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/260204/tools-to-shop-for.html )

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