Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Yahoo, and the Gap are already using them. But today, Beckon is launching its new omnichannel scorecards to the wider world, giving marketers a simple way to connect everything they’re doing and — yes — know the marketing score.
And no, it’s not just a toy.
“Don’t let the pretty UI fool you,” Beckon CEO Jennifer Zeszut told me yesterday. “This is enterprise software.”
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Marketing scorecards have their roots in the Balanced Scorecard methodology used by CEOs since the 1980s, she says, as well as the Six Sigma discipline that took off in the 1990s. The problem in the omnichannel world of the 2010s is that marketers are trying to manage data from everywhere all at once: web ad campaigns; in-store data; direct mail; mobile ad programs; owned, earned, and paid efforts in social, email marketing campaigns; and easily a dozen other indicators, reports, and platforms.
In other words, there’s more data, there are more sources of data, that data is coming in a multiplicity of formats, and it’s coming faster than ever before.
The typical result?
Excel hell, plus massive delay, if you want to get a complete picture of your progress.
Beckon, however, is one of a new breed of marketing analytics packages, including competitor Origami, that aim to help marketers by munching just about any flavor of data container or pipe — Excel, PDFs, APIs, Office docs, and more — and extracting the raw information required to get a truly real-time picture of whether you’re winning or not.
The company launched in 2013, took a $10 million funding round in 2014 (total funding is now at $23 million) and is now launching its latest product, scorecards, out of private beta and into public availability.
“Beckon can hook up any source under the sun,” Zeszut said with an impressive degree of confidence. “We can automatically pull data in from tools with APIs and tools with no APIs, only reports. We can automatically transform and ingest spreadsheets from Frank in Finance and the agency partner in Spain.”
The tool can get very detailed and granular — Beckon can grab the data at the lowest levels of granularity, Zeszut said, because it plugs directly into source systems and reports — but the company doesn’t recommend building siloed scorecards. The key, apparently, is to show how all the parts are working together.
Which doesn’t mean, of course, that you can’t dial in for more details:
“The CMO, CEO, and CFO may want the top line scorecard, but the VP of digital marketing will want the breakout by channel, then by platform, then by media partner and so on,” Zeszut said. “Scorecards … represent standard criteria by which things should be judged — you can see various social networks next to each other, various channels, various campaigns, various brands or regions.”
All that functionality doesn’t come for free, of course.
Beckon pricing is in the thousands, trending up or down depending on the number of data streams you want to attach. Global enterprises using the system, such as Coca-Cola and Microsoft, could theoretically connect literally hundreds of data streams. Startups, on the other hand, might have only a handful.
I’m interested by Beckon’s perspective on omnichannel.
Zeszut does not recommend building scorecards for individual channels such as email, display, search, and so on. In other words, the company does not want clients to build this:
That’s a risky stance, because almost every marketing manager I’ve ever met would kill to have that kind of data at a glance in real time. There’s a danger there, however, according to Beckon.
“It may be easy, but it’s not omnichannel and does not show how parts are working together to move the needle on the whole,” Zeszut said.
That does make sense, given the reality of how marketing elements function “in the wild.” You get a marketing email that you glance at and delete, happen to see some news about a brand, perhaps see a mobile ad for a fraction of a second, and then maybe make an in-store purchase in a moment of desire a few days later. Measuring each individual piece when it’s incredibly challenging to do meaningful attribution could be a waste of time, and perhaps counterproductive. Rather, Beckon says: Measure the overall effect.
And yet … I imagine that most marketing managers will sneak peeks at the components too.