AT&T: Live Base

What to do when the data tells you to do nothing.

It was David Ogilvy, of course, who famously said, “The consumer is not an idiot; she is your wife.”

AT&T had asked us to help them with its “Value Segment” customer group – people of the “Penny Pincher” and “Coupon Clipper” variety. People for whom price and cost are extremely important.


“Sometimes it’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play.” – Miles Davis

Unsurprisingly, AT&T had a tremendous amount of information on these potential customers, which the company was very enthusiastic about us using. How much information? How about 2.5 years’ worth on 16 million unique customers. You’d be enthusiastic too, right?

And that’s great, because the only thing we love more than data is lots of data. Because data fuel insights and insights fuel great work, and great work fuels success for clients.

And when we have a lot of data, we’re better able to make sure that our insights are grounded, substantive and have real wisdom behind them.


So we dug into the data and gathered some terrific insights about what motivated and compelled these customers. Then we created a multi-tiered, multi-media marketing plan — a plan that began with a “Strategic Journey” in which we mapped out each month of AT&T’s relationship with a customer across the contract period and defined the right messages at the right time and in the right medium.

And then we overlaid that with a “Personal Journey” by linking the customer persona with the stages of the brand relationship, identifying the specific opportunities for educating, up-selling and driving value.

Now that’s a lot more attention to the nuance and subtlety involved in customer relationships than one usually gets the opportunity to offer. But that’s what great data – and knowing what to do with it – allows.


And that’s when we discovered something amazing.

As we built our journeys and tested them, we discovered that sometimes you have to just let people process what you’ve sent. That sometimes — probably more than marketers would like to admit — you have to not talk to them for your message to resonate.

Or, as Miles Davis put it, “Sometimes it’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play.”

We call that cadence — and it’s one of the reasons our campaign delivered an average of 127% above forecast.

Key Results

  • Built a master CRM database using 2.5 years of data from 16 million customers
  • Helped AT&T take a longitudinal (or “customer”) view and move beyond the simple decile analysis for the first time
  • Isolated key attitudinal and demographic characteristics of non-responders
  • Dynamically generated messages and offers based on preselected criteria to improve offer relevance and personalization
  • Moved beyond simplified PTB list selection, allowing hierarchical CRM campaigns and versioning at the demographic, behavioral, product and geographic level
  • Delivered an average 127% above forecast over a five-year period
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