Elliott Clayton, Senior Vice President of Media at Epsilon UK
“Epsilon is a leader in interaction management, empowering brands to transform ordinary customer experiences into meaningful, human experiences that drive meaningful business outcomes.”
Founder: Hal Brierley
Founding Date: 1969
HQ Location: Irving, Texas
No of Employees: over 8,000
Website URL: epsilon.com/
What does your company do?
Epsilon is all about outcome-based marketing. We connect brands with their customers to drive repeatable, incremental and measurable business outcomes at scale.
Our people and technology help brands identify and understand consumer needs so our clients can deliver effective one-to-one communications.
What is your USP?
It’s the ability to offer one-to-one communications across digital media at scale. For example, our Epsilon PeopleCloud solution uses online and offline intent signals to allow brands to deliver direct, personalised messages to their customers that drive meaningful top and bottom-line business outcomes.
We are unique in having the highest accuracy for identifying real people in digital across channels. This ability to recognise a prospect or a brand’s customer is integrated across all our platforms.
By enabling our clients to understand their customer behaviours, they can adopt a customer-centric marketing approach. Using these insights to create more meaningful experiences, deliver messages that resonate and promote products their customers want, changes the relationship and builds a stronger business.
We also can measure actual outcomes across all marketing channels. To support our commitment to transparency and trust, we give the raw data back to the brands so that they can measure it themselves and tell us what we’ve done for them. That’s what makes us different.
How do you deliver on this USP?
We deliver this through our market-leading platforms, and have done so for over 10 years. They compete individually and globally within their markets - Digital Media, CRM, Loyalty and Multichannel Marketing.
We don’t just supply the technology then leave our customers to work it out for themselves. We are true partners, providing the technology, services and support while owning the business deliverables with our clients.
What makes you different to your competitors?
It all comes down to our data which we hold at a user level. Our wealth of online and offline data – including critical transactional information - allows us to identify and understand real people. This has enabled us to develop a powerful identity graph of people globally. So we know who people are, and we stay connected to consumers. We are transparent in two ways. Firstly, in sharing these insights back to our clients, so we don’t hoard data. Secondly, we pass the raw data back on performance, so we are completely transparent on what is working. This can be invaluable to brands.
Facebook, Google and the other walled gardens don’t do a good job of sharing data. What is often not recognised is that they rely heavily on IP and email addresses to define a user, often resulting in unreliable or false information about them – and weak measurement. Our data allows us to tie the information back to a real person at an actual physical address, so we guarantee that you’re talking to one person. Performance can also be compared to a brands’ own data and business outcomes, instead of being mediated through marketing platforms and weak marketing metrics.
What retailer need do you fulfil?
We support our retail clients in three key areas to enable them to deliver personalised, targeted communications that drive business growth.
A. Reducing demands on resources
Our platform has everything that marketers need to support the marketing cycle, from the idea stage to the creative, audience, activation, and measurement ones. This is in line with the desire of businesses to consolidate the number of platforms they use. And with everything in one place, our clients don’t have to do the heavy lifting - we do it for them.
B. Activating first-party data assets
For any retailer, knowing your customer is essential for success, and data is the voice of the customer. We help them understand who their customers are and their buying preferences so they can have a genuine one-to-one dialogue with them that deepens the relationship. They also can activate the data to support their brand clients and enhance relationships with them. This wealth of data allows retailers to treat people as individuals and focus on targeted, relevant communications rather than wasteful mass marketing.
C. Creating actionable insights
Data is essential, but it’s applying the data to drive meaningful marketing outcomes that’s important. We provide the tools and the creativity so retailers can profit from the opportunities open to them - and do it at scale. We can accurately advise on the likely shape of their peak seasons and when to start promotions. We can suggest which products to show to customers and in which order. We can identify who is likely to buy what, how to get to additional sales and where there might be product issues.
Above all, retailers need to activate their data so each customer interaction is relevant, timely, meaningful and personalised. Every customer engagement must have a purpose, and this builds emotional connections with a brand.
Which retailers do you work with?
We work with many leading brands across a multitude of areas. This includes fashion and clothing with Superdry, Gap, French Connection, Pretty Little Things and Scotch and Soda, skin care and beauty with Space NK and Liz Earle, through to luxury retailers like Liberty London and LuisaViaRoma and B2B e-commerce businesses such as RS Components.
What challenges are you addressing for multichannel retailers?
A key challenge for any retailer is how to get closer to their customers. Technology is critical, but there’s a danger you can invest in new platforms that fail to deliver what you need. Our platform allows you to create, set up and test a campaign to prove the value of what we deliver within three months. This, and the fact we can build a singular customer view in weeks with no setup costs, make us unique. The result is there is little risk because our clients are working to planned outcomes with proof of concept stages.
How are you using the emerging technology to support retail growth?
We focus on driving business and marketing outcomes that resonate at a board level. By measuring and proving incremental return, we turn spend into investment. Through ongoing and validatable test and control methodologies, we can prove that we are driving incremental returns to ensure retailers understand the changes in their sales baseline. In digital, this is unique.
What do you see as challenges for the retailers and suppliers over the coming years? How are you prepared to meet those challenges?
From the move to first-party data, recessionary pressures and audiences increasingly moving online, through to the continual demand to do more with less and growing consumer expectations - there are always new challenges to overcome in the retail sphere.
Our solutions are designed to help businesses by delivering market-leading identity technologies, data-driven activation at scale, true personalisation and real measurement.
Epsilon has a long heritage of developing technologies and processes that support businesses today and in the future. This means we are confident we can meet these challenges and continue to deliver to our clients’ needs.
Has your customer base increased since the start of Covid?
During Covid, we had a really strong response from our clients because we take the job of partnering with our brands very seriously. When they were concerned about how performance was going, we guaranteed their performance to allow them to keep working. We’re not just about receiving input. We’re here to help our clients grow their business - because when they grow, we grow.
Not surprisingly, customer acquisition slowed down during Covid, but we still grew 45% year-on-year. How we operate, what we deliver and the people in our business have made a huge difference to our clients, and that’s why we grew in such a way.
As many of our brands are in fashion - one of the worst-hit retail sectors - some clients struggled. But those who had a good handle on their data, knew what their customers were doing and knew how much to spend to get an exact output have done well. That’s because they’ve been able to respond really quickly to the environment and we’ve been able to provide the analysis and insights to allow them to do that.
What targets are you aiming to achieve in the next five years?
We aim to make the brands we work with more successful. We want to take this ability to talk one-to-one with customers back to email and loyalty programmes. We will continue to join up digital with offline to enhance how our clients deliver an integrated marketing approach. We’ll also support them in creating an environment that allows them to engage better with consumers across their purchasing and channel journeys.