Alterian’s Alchemy – Turning Data Into Gold





So, as promised a more thorough review of the new product from Alterian – Alchemy.

A description from the company themselves – “Alchemy is a lot of things”, so let’s break these down.

Firstly let’s explore the principles behind it. Alchemy is designed to change the way business engages with customers online and offline. Having recognized a fundamental shift in the marketing now has to be conducted, predominantly due to the impact of social media, Alterian ahs been on the acquisition trail over the last few years, buying up content management systems and most notably, the social media monitoring tool, SM2, designed by Techrigy.

Alchemy is also recognition that the existing campaign management tools available are now no longer fit for purpose in the new world.

The first thing to note is that Alchemy has been designed with the end user (a marketer, not a technician) very much in mind. To this end, Alterian have brought in a User Experience Engineer, Colin Robertson to oversee the design of Alchemy, to ensure that a user friendly interface was achieved. Indeed, Alterian sum up this approach by stating that, “the user should know what they’re doing, not how they’re doing it”. At last!

Three specific areas underpin Alchemy:

  • Technology
  • Usability
  • New Concepts

Technology – this is brand new technology, not a series of enhancements to existing technologies. Alchemy works on desktops, in browsers, on PC’s or on a Mac in a way that makes no difference to the user.

Usability – Colour schemes have been devised to help the users fell comfortable with where they are at anytime. Specific colours are used to indicate the following parts of this product – segments, campaigns, engineering data, reports, design, tactics and question sheets.

Training in the use of Alchemy should be shorter and easier.

New concepts – Campaign tools that are accessible to the ‘non-power’ user.

But, what’s under the bonnet?

The building blocks of Alchemy are data and tools. As Alterian say, ‘data is the object, tools are the subject’.

So to start, a marker would typically look to create a data segment. The drag and drop feature is fabulous from a  user point of view, but also great is that as you add criteria to your selections, the volume of data that you are creating changes and is visible to you, so you don’t have to wait to hit ‘submit’ get disappointed and start again. So you can pull, females, born in August who, given their transactional history, are likely to purchase within the next three months online, all through the drag and drop functionality.

The other stand out feature for me is Alchemy’s integration of social media into the overall campaign management system. Essentially, once a campaign becomes live, Alchemy listens to the ‘buzz’ that it is creating on social media and can respond to this buzz, based on a series of events and triggers.

An ‘event’, is defined as anything that is brought in from the outside – for example a ‘tweet’ or a blog post. Once an event happens, a ‘triggers’ can be set up to occur – an email campaign, direct mail piece of tweet for example.

The ‘Engagement Persona ID’ ties together all the information known about a customer and be used to personalise elements of a campaign in a particularly impressive way. The example that Alterian use is a campaign that offers a 15% discount to anyone who tweets a particular hashtag. Assuming all permissions are granted, Alchemy then captures the Twitter handles of all those who have done so, then tweets them back with a link to a url that takes them to a personalized website, promoting products that are likely to stimulate a purchase.

Alchemy appears to be a great, user friendly tool, which draws together the increasingly disparate actions available to customers in 2011. This is a huge achievement in itself, but in giving the marketer a simple and straightforward user interface, it makes brings down the barriers that are present in some systems, so that maximum value can be extracted and all of the features can be used without fear.

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