Tuesday, October 14, 2014

CommandIQ Gives Marketers Flexible Database and Messaging Options

The market for Customer Data Platforms is still young, which means that products have yet to converge on a standard set of features. The only thing that’s certain is a CDP will create a multi-source database of customer information. Among the still-optional features are identity association (stitching together individual identifiers from different sources), predictive modeling, decision logic to run marketing campaigns, and message delivery. None of those are required for a CDP to fulfill its core purpose of giving marketers a unified customer database to support coordinated customer treatments across channels. But each adds value that makes a system easier to sell than a database alone. So it’s possible that the market will end up dominated by a configuration that includes several of them.

CommandIQ, released early this year, takes a relatively barebones approach: a shared multi-source database plus decision logic for individual messages. (The system actually does have predictive modeling capabilities but the vendor has chosen not to expose them, having found most users lack interest.) It has some message delivery capabilities for email and mobile but relies primarily on integrations with third-party email vendors, pushes to mobile operating systems, API calls, and flat file exports.

Since the system focused on database and message selection features, let’s look at those in more depth. CommandIQ accepts inputs from pretty much any source, loading them into the Redshift column store database. This gives users fast access to large volumes of data in any schema. The system can use any identifier selected by the client and can capture relationships between IDs, such as linking a mobile device to an email address opened on that device. But it doesn’t find near matches based on similarities among inputs, append external data to customer profiles for enrichment or cleansing, or offer semantic processing for unstructured data. All those would be provided by external services linked into the system.

Message selection incorporates three functions: segment selection, message creation, and scheduling. Selections define who will see the message. They can use any information in the system database: there is no distinction between events like email opens and attributes like customer address. A point-and-click query builder lets users create complex logic such as “opened three emails within the past two weeks”. Users can also “deep link” a message to specific locations within an app or Web site.

Message creation begins by specifying which system that will execute the message: users select from predefined connections to different email vendors, Andoid and iOS apps, and HTTP posts. A drag-and-drop email builder lets users create HTML messages including personalized contents drawn from the system database. Users can also embed API calls within a message to get dynamic product recommendations from the system when the message is rendered. The system supports a/b testing, control groups held out from a message, and frequency caps that can block a message after customers reach a specified total in each channel. When a message has versions for different channels, the system can deliver the message in the highest-priority channel for which a user address is available.

Scheduling supports one-time and repeated execution. Event-triggered messages can execute continuously, although the system doesn’t support true real-time interactions because of delays in loading data from external sources. The vendor plans to add immediate execution in the near future. There is no direct way to create multi-step message sequences, although these could be set up through selection conditions that filter on previous messages.

CommandIQ was developed for an online game company that wanted an efficient way to push messages to customers based on specific behaviors. That’s a situation where multi-step sequences don’t much matter, mobile platforms are critical, and where users are typically identified through log-ins. Similar conditions apply to other online businesses including ecommerce and elearning…which is exactly where the company has found the bulk of its initial clients. Companies that need more complicated campaigns or have more challenging matching problems could also use the system but might find it a little more work than some alternatives.

Pricing for CommandIQ is based on the number of users, connections, and customization. A basic version starts at $899 per month while enterprise installations run from $5,000 to $15,000 per month. The system currently has less than 20 enterprise clients.

No comments: