A house is only as solid as the foundation it’s built on. And in the world of digital marketing, the foundation a marketing automation platform is built on is data.

Customers increasingly expect a consistent experience with a brand no matter which channel they choose to interact with them through. They expect the company to know who they are and where they’ve been, and to deliver a personalized experience. Expectations are high.

Delivering on those expectations requires a data management strategy that gets you to one view of the customer. Your marketing automation platform is only as effective as the data it contains, and that data may be sitting all over your company, in a variety of disparate systems. Getting them all together into your marketing automation platform is no easy challenge.

It’s the challenge that Vancouver-based start-up Tagga is aiming to solve with its business to consumer marketing platform that consolidates fragmented customer data into a unified customer view, so marketers can use that data to predict outcomes and maximize the return on their marketing investment.

“We leverage data that lives in disparate systems, like cloud marketing tools, email platforms and legacy systems, and bring it into a central repository to get a 360 degree view of customers as they interact, buy and engage,” said Jean-Guy Faubert, Tagga’s CEO, in an interview. “We then apply a rich set of data science apps, tools and analytics to help marketers gain valuable insight into their community.”

Tagga’s initial focus was on big companies with enterprise data needs and a lot of different data sources, but Faubert said they came to realize that small and medium-sized businesses ($10 million to $100 million in revenue) have the same needs. SMBs don’t have as many data sources – it could just be Facebook, email and an ecommerce system – but they still need to get to that one view of the customer, and that’s now Tagga’s focus. Faubert said the big customer relationship management (CRM) vendors are born out of the business to business space, and haven’t tried to tackle the B2C space as Tagga has.

Like Salesforce, Tagga’s platform lives in the cloud. At its core is an open architecture that allows the integration of disparate data sources in a way can only happen in the cloud, Faubert says. They also bring in other data, such as events and weather forecasts.

“A brand might want to launch a campaign when it’s raining in Vancouver to sell vacations to Mexico,” said Faubert.

U.S. department store Gordmans was a Tagga beta client, and Faubert said they were keen to gain insight from their community. They already had a loyalty program, a mailing list, a mobile app and a social presence. Tagga rolled all that into one program and began to gain knowledge on the buying behaviour of Gordmans’ customers and community during a six-month trial.

“We then targeted them with incentives and calls to action specific to their likes and preferences, and what they’d bought in the past,” said Faubert. “We delivered a 400 per cent increase in sales, a 35 per cent return of coupons versus the 13 per cent average, and a 19-1 return on investment.”

An open data architecture is really what Faubert sees as the future of data management, and the key enabler of effective marketing automation and engagement.

“There’s always going to be siloed, proprietary technology that locks down the access they have to data, but those will soon be the dinasaurs in the industry and their business models will fall apart,” said Faubert.

He said Tagga has a competitive licensing model, at $15,000/year for the platform, the segmentation and community builder profiling technology, and two to three data source integrations. Additional users and data sources can be added for an additional cost – 10 users are included with the base platform.

“When you can tailor your call to action based on the consumer’s likes, they’ll react to that more than they will a storewide clearance sale at The Bay,” said Faubert.

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