Campaign planning in direct marketing is very complex due to a large product variety, various distribution channels and differentiation according to customer groups.
In addition, there are the restrictions due to the company-internal contact strategy and the desire to maximize the aggregate turnover of the various campaigns.
In particular the telecommunications industry must face the challenge that the success rate rapidly declines in case of growing contact volume. Thus, customer contact must again be perceived as a rare good - this may be achieved by way of holistic optimization.
Unfortunately, more often each campaign is optimized on a stand-alone basis. That means: The early bird catches the worm. The customers who are still available due to the frame conditions and the pre-selected contact strategy are allocated to each campaign in the selection process. These customers are not necessarily the most promising customers for the campaign, as customers who only recently received a campaign notice may not be contacted again because of the contact strategy. This scenario is not based on a wider strategy and does not result in an optimal contact distribution, which means that the overall result which can be achieved by campaigns is not optimal.
Solution Strategy - Holistic Optimization
Holistic optimization is a solution strategy which can be realized e.g. with SAS Marketing Optimization (MO).
All campaigns during a pre-defined period are jointly assessed and holistically optimized. The allocation of the customers to the campaigns is made in such a way that an overall maximum is achieved, taking into account the contact strategy.
SAS MO offers many configuration possibilities within the scope of optimization:
- Potential customer-campaign combinations
- Ancillary conditions
- Control parameters
- Contact strategy
Prior to the SAS MO introduction project, a feasibility study was carried out. The objective of the feasibility study was to assess:
- Usability: How well can SAS MO be used with the business's campaign data?
- Effort: How complex is the introduction of SAS MO?
- Schedule: How long does the introduction take? When can a ROI be realized?
- Risks: which risks must be taken into account? What are the major challenges?
- Benefits: which benefits does the use of SAS MO create for the increase of the campaign value?
Subsequently, the project setup with project objectives and the project schedule were defined. In addition to the holistically optimized campaign management with SAS MO, the reduction of complexity, configurability as well as transparency were defined as objectives.
The implementation of SAS MO was divided into 5 sub-projects:
- Definition of a new campaign management process (1 FTE - 6 months)
- Definition of an analytical control parameter on the basis of campaign margin and development of respective score cards (2 FTE - 8 months)
- Set-up of realistic optimization scenarios and test of the overall process (1 FTC 3 months)
- Technical integration into existing campaign infrastructure (2 FTE 4 months)
- Adjustment of the existing campaign reporting in order to allow an improved review of the success of a campaign (1 FTE - 3 months)
Overall project term: approximately 9 months (particulars are scales)
Learnings and Outlook
This project was successfully completed in compliance with the schedule and the budget. The objectives of the project would be achieved by easier selection criteria, configurable ancillary conditions and transparency regarding the forthcoming campaign value.
An assessment of the surplus profit could be made for two test months, the positive result confirmed the benefits derived from the feasibility study. An evaluation of the benefits of SAS MO in live operation is not possible, as here, only the overall value of the campaigns can be calculated, rather than the difference to the "non-optimized" approach.
One of the project challenges, having the analytical model comprehended and accepted by the departments, was successfully overcome.
This could be achieved above all by close coordination with and the strong integration of the department into the project as well as an early assumption of test operations regarding the individual steps in the campaign process.
As a next step, the automated campaigns are to be integrated into SAS MO in addition to the ad hoc campaigns.