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Paul Hickey from life event marketing company TwentyCi on omnichannel

Agnieszka Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 10 April 2017

The director of digital solutions at TwentyCi on omnichannel marketing

TwentyCi logo 150x150Social Media Portal (SMP) What is your name and  what do you do there for TwentyCi?

Paul Hickey (PH): I?m Paul Hickey, director of digital solutions at TwentyCi. I was appointed to set up and launch the company?s digital capabilities and am now working with advertisers and agencies to help them understand how TwentyCi?s unique life-event data assets provide new targeting opportunities within the digital programmatic space.  

SMP: Briefly, tell us about TwentyCi

PH: TwentyCi is a life event marketing company that provides intelligence into the events in consumer lives which act as purchase triggers, such as moving home, having a baby, buying a car or retiring. In fact we hold the UK?s biggest resource of factual life event data.  We work with advertisers and their agencies to create contextually targeted marketing programmes that cut through by reaching consumers at the exact moment that they need a company?s product or service, through the best media channel for that individual.

Photograph Paul Hickey, irector of digital solutions at TwentyCiSMP: Who are your target audience and why?
PH: Life event marketing is relevant to any brand for whom the purchase of their product or service can be triggered by a life event as outlined above. For instance, as we have data on over 99% of all people in the UK at any given time, we work with brands in obvious industries where homemovers are a target audience ? such as white goods, home technology, retail, financial services, gardening and utilities. However, there are other less obvious sectors where homemover data can be invaluable ? such as travel and automotive as people often get a bigger mortgage than they need to fund a big holiday or new car.

SMP: What services does TwentyCi offer and what channels does it focus upon?

We provide customer intelligence and engagement solutions that leverage data and technology to help brands to connect with their target audience. We do this by using unique data insights into the key life events that trigger demand for their products and services. Our life event data can be used by clients to target consumers via direct mail, email, digital advertising across display, video and mobile, digital TV and social media.

Watch the TwentyCi about us video on YouTube.

SMP: What were you doing before you joined TwentyCi and how did you snag your current job?

Previously, I worked for a number of large publishing platforms and agencies including Rubicon Project and Microsoft, with a particular focus on setting up and managing their data platforms ? for example, integrating Microsoft?s data with Experian?s to create better targeting opportunities.  It was my understanding of the digital data ecosystem and how it works that made TwentyCi approach me. I jumped at the chance as the potential for life event data to quickly become a core component for many digital ad campaigns is enormous.
SMP: Briefly, what does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?

PH: That?s a tricky one as most days tend to be different.  I try to be in our Milton Keynes office for at least one day a week, but for the rest of the time I will be in London for meetings.  In town I will have a series of meetings with agencies, DSPs, brand marketers and analysts to talk to them about what we do.  It?s a really interesting education process as life event marketing is a new concept to many.  However,  when I take them through the value it can provide people often get very excited about it.  I also often meet with clients? legal teams to makes sure that they understand what they are allowed to do with our data and ensure that the right data permissions are in place.

SMP: What makes it a great job?

PH: I love that we are offering brands a very different view of their marketplace, their consumers and how to reach them.  For me, the best thing is seeing the results that we create for our clients.  Marketing budgets seem to get tighter every year, but we are helping brands to get more value from their spend.  We are also seeing clients add a new ?life event? line to their media schedule, just for us, which is hugely satisfying.

SMP: What are the challenges that you?ve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at TwentyCi?

PH: The biggest challenge is changing people?s perceptions about the impact of life events on consumer behaviour.  In particular, people tend not to think about the amount of time these events take up in our lives.  Not only can they often occupy our every waking hour, they also extend a long way before and after the actual ?event? itself. Moving house can take nine months or longer and a wedding often takes up to 18 months to arrange, for example. To demonstrate this to marketers we have mapped out the ?Homemover Wave? across a number of key market sectors to show the peaks and troughs for purchasing different product types for the months before and after a move ? see below:

 TwentyCi image

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

PH: Launching TwentyCi Digital and then getting really positive feedback from brand marketers and agencies alike has been a major high.

SMP: How to you ensure your data scientists are working well with marketers (how are you taming data with marketing)?

Our data scientists work hand-in-hand with client-facing project managers. The former are brilliant at making sense of our huge data sets and turning their analysis into actionable insights.  The project managers are the ones who take the insights to our clients and ensure that they understand exactly what they are getting and how to use it. It?s great teamwork where both parties get to play to their strengths.

SMP: How are you integrating direct marketing to create seamless campaigns?

Not all the campaigns we do are integrated as it depends on what a client?s objectives are, what channels will best used to achieve them. By their nature, direct mail, SMS and email campaigns are a very direct way of communicating at a one-to-one level. Digital channels such as display operate in a noisier environment and, while they can be targeted and personalised, they don?t have the same one-to-one quality. However, we can track people across all channels and identify where they are on the customer journey, what communication formats they have seen and whether they have engaged with them. This means we can help clients understand the most appropriate message and channel to use, be it another email, a video display ad or social media contact.

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding omnichannel marketing for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

It?s people moving towards more direct marketing metrics in omnichannel.  Attribution across all channels is becoming much more important. No longer are brands happy to accept the broad, inferred results that have been the norm in broadcast.  The next 12-18 months are going to be all about finding the best way to measure the true impact of campaigns, and to be able to compare like for like across the different channels.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for omnichannel marketing for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

PH replies with:
  • With  General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force soon, this will change the way people use consumer data in the future and also consumer relationships with brands. Millennials in particular are more likely to be opting out of communications which is going to drive down the size of target audiences that brands are able to contact. However, what this also means is that people will be receiving fewer one to one communications. So, if they opt into a communication they will be more receptive and more valuable to brands than before. As the control of the data reigns get held more firmly by the consumer, brands are going to have to be more conscious than ever about value transfer ? making sure it?s worth the customer?s while to view the ad or read the email.

  • Video is going to continue to grow at a pace, but increasingly it?s going to be short form video that advertisers will focus on. Consumers don?t want to spend more than 15/20 seconds on a brand video.

  • Ecommerce will explode in the coming two years.  With smartphones having overtaken laptops as our means to go online, we can shop whenever and wherever we want ? and we are doing so in droves. The irrepressible rise of Amazon will undoubtedly also have an impact as we can pretty much buy anything from one place now. Plus, there are more services setting up to help us receive or return our products more quickly and easily, so online purchases are less risky.

  • Omnichannel communications will bring ?context? into play to make them more effective. Marketers already look to answer questions like ?who, what and when? when they target their campaigns. However, as more factual data becomes available, they can increasingly understand the ?why? behind consumer behaviour and tailor communications around this. For instance, understanding why a customer buys, e.g. paint, can open up opportunities for retailers to form closer relationships with customers and satisfy multiple needs. Homemovers, for instance, are likely to require more than just paint when they move in, as will someone about to have their first baby ? but their desires will also be different and directly linked to their specific contextual life event.  So, by understanding the context behind someone buying paint, a savvy retailer will understand the needs of the individual customer and can help them solve them with targeted promotional offers. This is value transfer in action in the digital age!

  • Data will increasingly be seen as at the heart of omnichannel campaigns. Most brands involved in omnichannel operations have understood this, but that doesn?t mean that they have all been using their data properly. However, every year, marketers get more data savvy, and tools to understand data and make it actionable have become easier to use.
TwentyCi homepage image

SMP:  What are your top overall five omnichannel marketing tips and why?

replies with:
  • Data. Recency of data is of the utmost importance and it should be factual, not inferred if you want to ensure your communications are fully on point.

  • Content ? ensure communications are contextually relevant in terms of both timing and messaging to optimise their impact.

  • Journey. In omnichannel the consumer journey is no longer linear so you need an understanding of where your customers are so that you reach them in the right way.

  • 360. take an holistic view of your customers rather than looking at what they are doing in isolation. Only then can you make fully informed decisions about offer, messaging and timing.

  • Don?t be creepy. Data enables us to gain a rich understanding of the people we are targeting, but be careful how you use it.  The approach will depend on the brand and the product/service being promoted. A home mover will undoubtedly be in the market for new furniture, carpets or DIY products and will be grateful for the communication. However, it?s about using your knowledge to be relevant but softening the tone to stop being intrusive. For instance, we would never advocate saying ?we know you are having a baby?!

SMP: Best way to contact you and TwentyCi?

PH replies with:

Telephone +44(0)1908 829300
Mobile +44(0)79 1277 1351

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

PH: Toasted bagel with ham.  I?m starting to get into ?continental? mode as I?m off skiing shortly!

SMP: What?s the last good thing that you did for someone?

I coach 30 under 6s in rugby every Sunday. They seem to get a lot out of it and for me, it?s great to see them grow in terms of their skills and passion for the game ?it?s definitely win/win.

SMP: If you weren?t working at TwentyCi what would you be doing?

PH: I would be off on a long motorbike trip across Southern Europe. I would head to Spain, through France, travel down the length of Italy and end up in Sicily. I absolutely love the food and culture in Italy so this would be a great place to end up.

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

PH: I went to Majorca in October last year with our extended family to celebrate a couple of big birthdays.  It was wonderful to spend time together, the location was fabulous and the weather was great too. I did feel a bit like I needed another holiday afterwards, though, as it was also quite exhausting.

SMP: What?s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

PH: I fill my big yellow ?smiley? mug with coffee.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

PH: It would be the ability to not sleep. There?s just so much to do and so little time!

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