Measuring business through touchpoints and data: Nissan's recipe

Michele Petrilli
Digital Communication Section Manager @Nissan Motor Corporation

Michele Petrilli, Digital Communication Manager at Nissan Motor, explains how the company uses data and touchpoints to create personalized communication and convey authentic and effective experiences.

In this article you’ll find:

  • Nissan digital transformation process
  • How Nissan collects and uses data
  • Touchpoints: why and how to measure them


What’s needed for digital transformation

How can a company face digital transformation and identify which KPIs and touchpoints have a direct influence on business metrics? The key is the collection of data, which provides insights into how to deliver authentic and effective customer experiences.

For the success of its digital transformation process, Nissan considered three factors:

  • Corporate culture

Investment in training is needed. For this reason, an "evangelization" work was activated, which involved the top management and the entire company population. Not only was the digital approach to business covered, but also anything about the acquisition of data was studied in depth. This means that every activity must be structured in such a way as to obtain actionable data.

  • Specialization

It’s a good idea to employ people as specialized as possible. This amount of data needs in fact to be looked into, organized and managed, so professionals such as data scientists or data analysts are essential to make the right decisions and facilitate the relations between all stakeholders.

  • Anti-silos

All this would not be possible without a shared hardware and software structure across different departments, in order to avoid the silos effect. It is therefore necessary to have systems that are able to integrate all the information coming from the various sources (sales, financial services, insurance services, after-sales, etc.). Only then can effective marketing campaigns be launched.


The importance of data

The first step, as we mentioned, is planning activities in order to measure ROI.

The next step is the customization of the experience through data, with the evaluation of the "best options" media: you should have many touchpoints that allow you to collect and use data in a personalized way.

To start these processes there must be a DMP (Data Management Platform) for user behavior, and a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) able to collect the most relevant signals: Nissan works a lot on the first party data coming from its digital properties.

In this way the company creates a one-to-one communication, with dynamic creativity developed from the data collected on the one hand, and through the analysis of the performance in real time on the other hand, ensuring an optimized user experience.

Nissan also uses data for website personalization: different users who approach the website at the same time will see different content. These users can be:

  • first time visitors, potential customers or cookie-tracked users from media activity who approach the content of the website for the first time;
  • returning users, who have already viewed specific sections and will now be exposed to content in line with that they have already visited.

To first party data, Nissan integrates second and third party data coming from partnerships with various suppliers and data providers, to form a holistic view of the consumer.

Third-party data is less transparent and the rules determining the construction of the clusters vary greatly from one provider to another, or the various DSP (Demand-Site-Platform) platforms that exploit these sources. The main problem is that unfortunately you don’t have visibility or control over the algorithm.

That’s why it’s important focusing on the quality of the data and who certifies it, testing it to understand how it works.


Measuring touchpoints

There is no business with a single touchpoint, so you must create a Customer Journey Analysis that maps all the points of contact with the potential customer.

Clearly, the number of touchpoints depends on the business complexity and the impact of the budget on purchases. The purchase of an item of clothing will no doubt pass through less touchpoints than the purchase of a car, which is more expensive.

In order to make the right decisions you have to abandon the last touch logic to move to a multi-touch logic. Until recently, only the last touch - the last point of contact - was considered as a conversion generator when evaluating performances.

Nissan found out it is a wrong approach, because very often in decision-making it is the touchpoint that comes before the last one, generating the conversion, that has the greatest impact.

Not all touchpoints are digital, of course - digital touchpoints have the advantage of being easy to measure – but the whole offline world must also be taken into account, with the convergence it creates.

The transition from last-touch to multi-touch also requires a strategic switch: from simpler attribution models to econometric models, in which n variables are taken into account. These include first party data from digital activations, data from DMP and all sorts of marketing parameters (pricing, competition, market, sales, media, external factors, etc.).

Some of these factors play a decisive role in intercepting and understanding what’s the best time to launch a campaign, because the very same ad can work out in completely different ways depending on when it is launched.

Examples of influences include economic expectations or financial events, such as elections periods, growing spread, concerns (e.g. Brexit) etc., and might have a strong impact on sales.


Content management

The proliferation of new communication channels and platforms has made content management very complex, and old processes ineffective.

Now more than ever, multi-platform and multi-channel content distribution tools are required to streamline processes and make new content available in the shortest possible time.

Thanks to these tools, you can really apply real-time marketing and evaluate performance immediately.

As a matter of fact, in communication riding an episode, a piece of news, a technological innovation as quick as possible really can give you competitive advantage.

An integrated, automated production and distribution of content allows you to save up time and energies you can devote to the study of the most appropriate strategy.