Merit Group: Empowering Brands to Maximise Potential & Optimise ROI

Cornelius Conlon,Co-Founder & CEO

Cornelius Conlon

Co-Founder & CEO

Do you remember the scene from Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi hit Minority Report that narrated the story of 2054 where an advertisement at Gap store scans Tom Cruise’s retinas and begins speaking to him: “Welcome back to the Gap Mr. Yakamoto, how are those assorted tank tops working for you?” Although Spielberg was spot on about the future of marketing, his timing was off, as big data has brought the personalized 1:1 marketing paradigm much closer to the reality than he envisaged. Marketing Automation technology being the catalyst is ushering the marketing industry towards a healthy era where marketing executives, armed with accurate insights on customer’s behaviour and preference are pitching a product to the right targets, rather than annoying random people with spam.

In an attempt to accelerate their operational efficiency and revenue growth, many organisations are today willing to adopt Marketing Automation platforms such as Marketo, Eloqua, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and MailChimp, that helps streamline, automate, and measure their marketing tasks and workflows. The complex and vast report suites allowed by these prominent marketing platforms could perplex people with too many features and options, they could do wonders in the hands of an expert who could set up campaign workflow, track and monitor target behaviour, help create market qualifies leads (MQL) by lead scoring effectively. However, there are only a handful of firms capable of providing this Marketing Automation Support service. Excelling amongst the few is Merit Group, which is the only firm providing end-to-end Marketing Automation support including data and consultancy services to ensure that marketing automation campaigns are launched with the right plan, work flow, audience and above all ascertains that the audience from different segments are receiving the right message. Enabling over hundred B2B brands including blue chip global giants like Financial Times, Dow Jones, FITCH, and Ascential across UK, U.S. and Europe, the icing on the cake is that these high calibre services are provided in a cost-effective way without compromising on quality standards.

Transforming Data into Revenue
What poises the company at the topmost spot is its prowess in leveraging the highly personalized data it has been building since its inception in 2004 to unlock the utmost potential of its clients’ digital marketing campaigns. Currently Merit maintains over 15 million contact records, as it constantly monitors 10000+ web sources and collects over four million data points,every day.

“Anyone can build a marketing database effortlessly, but building high quality data in very specific niches is another story. We are probably the best company in the world in building such a niche database,” proclaims Cornelius Conlon, Co-Founder & CEO, Merit Group. A perfect example of its accuracy is the regular housekeeping it does to eliminate obsolete email addresses and replacing emails with accurate
up-to-date ones by re-researching records.

Merit's team excels in building digestible and bespoke dashboards, which could cut the noise and provide the marketing stakeholder with specific insights on key data points. To demonstrate, amongst the tens of thousands of emails sent by a brand, Merit can help assess the number of mails that have bounced back, unopened emails, number of click-throughs and the number of registrations from the landing page. This funnel data helps brands to understand at which point most prospects have lost their interest and they can then adjust the marketing approach accordingly.

Merit’s team excels in building digestible and bespoke dashboards, which could cut the noise and provide the marketing stakeholder with specific insights on key data points

A new piece of European legislation (GDPR) that will come alive next year, penalises oragnisations, with heavy fines, sending unsolicited communication to data subjects or citizens of member states of the EEA (European Economic Area). To ensure that its clients stay compliant with the emerging legal framework, Merit has been consulting with UK lawyers (with vast GDPR expertise) and has established a dedicated internal compliance team, to ensure that it is fully compliant as it processes vast amounts of personal data for its clients. Merit is also gearing up for the BS 10012:2017 certification audit which is on personal data protection and GDPR compliance.

Master of Data & Code
Apart from marketing data and marketing automation services, Merit has an established division which supplies diverse industry specific data of varied complexities to some of the biggest intelligence companies in the world. We provide teams pivotal for carrying our research and providing end-to-end core data to information businesses in multiple domains - maritime industry, fashion forecasting, global retailer performance data, UK construction data, global oil and gas data and more. Merit has developed some very sophisticated technology tools to gather, segment and interpret data from thousands of public domain sources, in all sorts of formats. This achievement means that when it comes to gathering and managing ‘big data’, Merit is one of the global leaders in the field, gathering millions of data points from thousands of sources, in multiple industries, every single day.

Being a flexible player who is easy to engage with, Merit also indulges in a significant amount of software development projects for many UK-based SMEs (200-500 employees) who lack the bandwidth to open their own Indian operations. While its offshore developers well versed in diverse technologies enable client’s CTOs to expand capacity cost-effectively (often saving around 50 percent) vis-à-vis equivalent UK/U.S. resources, its highly skilled expat project managers provide them with close control and daily visibility on their team’s productivity and output. CTOs can flex the skills, speed and cost of software development projects by dialling resources up and down as required and changing developers depending on skills required. At present, Merit handles 20 big data projects for its customers in the UK & U.S. across different industries such as fashion, constructions, automotive, commodities, retail and many more.

Constant Honing & Toning
Understanding that these intricate offerings require well trained and developed staff, the company provides extensive training sessions (especially for the middle management layer) including management and project management skills. Cornelius says, “If someone is interested in getting trained in a specific area, we fund them to learn from the best training courses with complete facilities, even if it’s a foreign language which is irrelevant to our business currently, because it helps them develop personally”.

The pride of catering to some of the biggest media companies in the world, the interesting innovations (and the challenges those innovations bring), keep Merit’s employees on their toes. The company wholeheartedly provides a great work-life balance for its 1000+ people strong workforce that spans across Chennai (headquarters), Mumbai & UK.

Preparing for a Better Future
Renowned for building extremely flexible & completely customizable products, Merit’s R&D team is currently channelling its focus towards several spheres of Artificial Intelligence; one of which would leverage speech recognition platforms like Amazon Alexa & Siri as well as foreign language translation tools and image interpretation techniques. Likewise, Named Entity Recognition (NER), i.e., building on the technology developed by Stanford University, would help its clients to recognise individuals or companies within several paragraphs of unstructured texts.

The company is also looking at AI strategies to help with the understanding of customer service emails for magazines and publishers. Merit is building an AI platform that would enable computers to understand the content of incoming mail and direct it to the right agent. For instance, by understanding the content in a customer’s mail, the algorithm can enable the brand to forward their magazine’s next issue to the new address specified in the mail without the help of an executive.

Banking on the tremendous traction it has been attaining for its Marketing Services offerings for the past two years, Merit targets to achieve similar success for its software development and big data projects as well, while pushing its boundaries on the marketing automation arena. UK being its primary market, the company has an extensive client-base that extends to European countries However, its new expansion plans will probably focus on the U.S., where it has developed five new accounts in the past 18 months. Having achieved a 60 percent revenue growth in 2016, Merit is steadily growing in a more disciplined and organic path. “We have more time to test out different approaches,” concludes a determined Cornelius.

Key Management:
Cornelius Conlon, CEO
One of the founders and one of the most experienced people in the Business Process and Data Research space, Cornelius leads the team in India and brings an extensive technology & analytical focus to Merit’s operations.

Clients: Reed Business Information, Financial Times (London), FITCH, Dow Jones, and Ascential to name a few

• End-to-End Marketing Automation Support
• Intelligence Products
• Software Development

Offices:Chennai (Headquarters), Mumbai & UK