Zaius Offers Mid-Market Customer Data Platform Plus Analytics and Campaigns


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It wasn’t until the end of a long demonstration that I finally understood what Zaius is. Which is pretty ironic, since they’re an almost perfect example of a Customer Data Platform – that is, a system that assembles customer data from multiple systems and makes it available for marketing and analytics. If anyone should recognize a CDP when they see one, it’s me. Come to think of it, if anyone is going to call something a CDP even when it isn't, that’s probably me, too.

So what fooled me about Zaius? It’s probably that most of their clients are mid-sized ecommerce companies, and the systems I’ve recently seen for ecommerce marketers have focused on personalized messaging and optimization. Zaius seemed to fall into those categories since much of our discussion focused on building marketing campaigns and doing attribution. I probably wasn’t helped by Zaius’ Web site, which calls it a “B2C CRM” and then lists single customer view, real-time marketing automation, and cross-channel attribution as its main features.  Single customer view is clearly CDP territory, but the marketing automation and attribution are not. In fact, CRM and marketing automation are feeder systems to CDPs, so you could argue it’s logically impossible for the same system to be both.

None of which really matters, I guess.  Let’s forget about labels and look at what Zaius does.

Turns out, the primary thing that Zaius does is to build that unified customer database. It has connectors to gather data from Shopify and Magento ecommerce systems and the Segment, Tealium and Google tag managers.*  More prebuilt connectors are on the way. In the meantime, Zaius can capture data from Web sites and email through Javascript tags, from mobile apps through a System Development Kit, and from pretty much anything through APIs and batch uploads. The system loads data into a structured schema, so adding a new data elements takes some work. Non-technical users can add custom fields on their own, but adding a new object or table needs more technical skill. The system will reject records that have unexpected or invalid data and notify users of the problem. Zaius doesn’t automatically apply address standardization or other data transformations, although the vendor can create custom adapters to do some of that.

Once data is loaded, Zaius does deterministic identity resolution, which means it will chain together data using any identifier known to be associated with an individual. (For example, if a phone number and email address have been associated with the same person, any new record with either that phone number or email address will be linked to that person). It builds profiles of anonymous identifiers, such as cookies, and will link them to known individuals if they are later associated with a personal identifier. The system will merge identities if it discovers a connection, but it doesn’t do probabilistic matching across devices, fuzzy matching of similar postal addresses, or householding.

The data loading process also includes sessionization, which associates events that occurred around the same time. For example, multiple Web page views during a single visit would be a session. Zaius assigns events to sessions after they are linked to unified identities, so one session can include interactions across several channels. This might help users find customers who called on the phone after having trouble placing a Web order.

Zaius gives users tools to analyze the data it has captured, to create and export segments, and to run outbound marketing campaigns. Analytics include dashboards, attribution reports, and funnel analyses that track customers through a purchase process. Because Zaius is unifying data from multiple sources, its analyses can span events that happened in different systems. This means a funnel report could include an outbound email, a Web visit from a link in the email, and an ecommerce purchase during that visit. Neither the email or ecommerce system alone could track this entire path.

The system can report on customers at different stages in the life cycle, giving a useful overview of the user's business. It also lets users see tactical metrics, such as number of new customers acquired in the past month, and then drill down to see which campaigns produced those customers. Users who want to explore still further can look as deep as the specific events within an individual customer’s history. Security features can limit users to specified subsets of data, such as particular Web sites or product groups.

Segmentation in Zaius can draw on any data in the system. The system provides a form-based segment builder that can create complex expressions. These can be saved and used within other segment definitions. Users can export segments to other systems, including a two-way audience synchronization with Facebook and Google. In addition, a real-time API lets external systems query Zaius directly to find individual customer profiles. Segment exports and API access are what qualify Zaius as a CPD.

Segments can in turn be used in marketing campaigns.  These are built with templates that let users specify the channel (email, push, or SMS) and delivery type (once, recurring, continuous, or event triggered). Users can create email messages using a drag-and-drop interface that supports advanced personalization, such as selecting the top products in a customer’s most commonly purchased category. Personalization variables can be built with a scripting language or by inserting pre-built objects. Testing features let users define a test duration, evaluation criterion, and content versions. Users can set aside a portion of the audience to automatically receive the winning version when the test is complete. Zaius lacks more advanced optimization such as multi-variate tests that automatically create different combinations of features, finding segments within the audience that respond best to different versions, or predictive modeling.  Zaius connects to external services such as Salesforce ExactTarget or SendGrid to deliver email and SMS messages. It uses Amazon SNS to send push messages. The vendor plans to add direct mail and browser push channels in the future.

Zaius was launched in 2014, with an original focus on providing a unified customer view and analytics. Its initial clients were large enterprises but it has recently shifted its focus to mid-market firms with at least 100,000 customers. Pricing is based on volume and can range from $1,000 per month to $10,000 or more.

*Segment and Tealium are CDPs themselves, but let’s not confuse things even more.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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