Mobile technologies and platforms most disruptive innovations: Epsilon

The digital marketing industry has been forced to transform, rethinking channels, addressability, personalisation and delivery, says Wayne Townsend, president, Technology

Epsilon is a global leader in transforming data-driven marketing into long-lasting relationships.

Epsilon identifies where potential customers are, where they’ve been and how to win their loyalty. 15 of the top 20 global brands trust us to deliver this and to create personalised experiences, build lasting relationships, and get the most value from their marketing dollars.

Epsilon is part of Alliance Data, a leading provider of marketing, loyalty, and credit solutions that uses the power of data to achieve results for our clients. Together, Alliance Data’s three lines of business manage more than 100 million consumer relationships for some of the world’s leading brands.

Pradeep Chakraborty caught up with Wayne Townsend, president, Technology, Epsilon, for a chat during a recent visit to India. Excerpts from an interview:

BW: What are Epsilon's views on brands and globalisation?

Wayne Townsend: Global market realities are changing the business landscape. Today, brands need to think globally, and understand the communications preferences of their customers across different regions, as well as all the technologies and platforms being used across the world. 

As we look to build long-term relationships with our Fortune 500 clients, we aim to evolve alongside them, helping them know their customers, and reach them at moments of interest, at the right place and time, regardless of where they reside. 

Globalisation is one of the main reasons we opened up a key hub in India in 2015 to provide global coverage for our clients, many of which already have captive operations set up in the region.

BW: What are the disruptive ideas that have defined innovation and innovations in the field of Digital Marketing Solution?

Wayne Townsend: Over the past five years, mobile technologies and platforms have been the most disruptive innovations because the mobile phone is now at the centre of every consumer’s life. As a result, the digital marketing industry has been forced to transform, rethinking channels, addressability, personalisation and delivery. 

Consumers now expect mobile-first interactions with brands that are personalised and real-time, with their preferences and profile connected across devices and media. 

The cloud and artificial intelligence are two other important, relatively recent, digital marketing innovations. The cloud provides unmatched speed, enabling brands to deliver personalised real-time messages to individuals, at scale, as well as reliability, consistency, quality and adaptability. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) provides the ability to reach customers in real-time, with relevance, by determining customer audiences based on previous (or current) behaviours and brand interactions. AI can immediately predict a customer’s potential value, always detecting for new events and marketing messages that can be adapted to incite the desired action. 

Using the cloud and AI together marketers can reach customers with engaging, personalised interactions at scale, ensuring growth and value for the brand. 

BW: How are you addressing enterprise-level marketing technology that helps you get value from your customer information?

Wayne Townsend: Epsilon has historically been oriented around transactional data, understanding consumers’ offline purchase behaviours and leveraging that information to help brands develop personalised marketing programs, activated through loyalty, email and direct mail. 

Today, it’s about activating data and insights in real-time for true one-to-one personalisation across devices, as opposed to reaching broad audiences with the same message. In 2014, we acquired Conversant, a leader in personalised digital marketing, to help clients solve this challenge. 

Our approach to enterprise-level marketing technology is to forge tighter bonds between Epsilon’s solutions and Conversant’s. This integrated approach provides a deep understanding of consumers, and the best way to create emotional connections, whether online or offline. 

BW: How are you delivering creatives across all mediums without preference or prejudice, via all channels? What about competition?

Wayne Townsend: Data and sophisticated analytics should be viewed as the underpinning to marketing decisions. At Epsilon, data is at the centre of everything we do. Demographic data, consumer research data, transactional data and online behaviour data all must come together to create a single customer view. 

Marketers that have a grasp on understanding their customers are well-positioned to send the right message or make the right offer at the right time and in the right channel.  Bringing data together to create rich consumer profiles and activating those insights in real-time through powerful technology platforms means contextual decisioning can be made to deliver personalised communications to the individual. 

We believe that Epsilon is uniquely positioned to help our client’s businesses grow through unrivalled data intelligence, world-class technology integration and activation and execution. 

BW: You are in the process of making India a hub for its global operations in the marketing technology and digital space. Why India? 

Wayne Townsend: As the #1 world’s largest CRM/direct marketing networks according to Ad Age, it’s imperative we continue to deliver for our clients globally. 

Given the impressive, rich labour market in India, we knew establishing an office hub would enable us to deliver superior solutions, compete for new and expanded business opportunities and ultimately drive business growth for our clients on a global scale. 

There are great universities fostering talent and covering a full range of skill types and levels that provide the flexibility we need to meet business demands. 

BW: What are Epsilon's expansion and recruitment plans for the year, in, and besides India?

Wayne Townsend: We focus on leveraging the power of data, technology and creative to help our clients’ business grow. We’re looking for data analysts, software engineers and creative directors to help us achieve this.  

In India, we plan to continue our aggressive growth and expect to have 1800 associates in India by the end of 2017.  We will also be opening up our second tower in Karle Center in Bangalore, in April, which will double our seating capacity. 

In addition to adding associates who deliver our loyalty, CRM and digital experience products and solutions, we will also be focused on growing out our analytics and creative groups.

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