Optimization rules and constraints

The criteria by which the set of final contacts (the OCT) is determined. You can define multiple rules and constraints within a single optimization, which apply to all campaigns that participate in the Contact Optimization session.

The terms "rules" and "constraints" are often used interchangeably as the difference between them is subtle. Constraints have many possible alternative solutions and the "best alternative" is chosen by maximizing an objective function, for example, maximizing a score value. Rules eliminate possible alternatives.

To understand constraints, consider this example: A constraint specifies that each customer can receive only three offers in any given 30-day window. If a customer is eligible to receive offers A, B, C, and D, the possible combinations of viable alternatives that satisfy this constraint include A, B, C, AB, AC, AD, BC, BD, ..., ABC, ABD, BCD.

To understand rules, consider this example: A Gold credit card offer cannot allowed to be sent within 90 days of a Platinum credit card offer.

When you work with rules and constraints, you need to know the following terms:

  • Customer. A customer represents any marketable entity. In your implementation, a customer can be an individual person, a household, an account, or any other audience level that is defined in Campaign.
  • Interaction. A communication of one offer to one customer, also called a contact.
  • Offer. A message, often promotional, sent to a customer over a contact channel on a specific date. For example, a low credit card interest rate or a coupon for a certain percent discount at a retail store.
  • Channel. A means of contacting, being contacted by, or interacting with a customer or prospect as part of a campaign. Examples include direct mail, telemarketing, fax, customer service or support, point-of-sale, email, and websites.
  • Package. All offers sent to the same customer through the same contact processes (in Campaign), delivered on the same channel at the same time. A package represents a single "interruption" to the recipient, but can contain multiple communications or offers. For example, a package can be multiple coupons in a coupon book or multiple offers within the same email. Contact fatigue constraints are likely based on packages rather than offers. For example, a marketing company wants to limit the number of direct mail pieces a prospect can receive, which is based on packages. You can also limit the total number of offers any individual receives, regardless of how those offers are grouped into packages.
  • Scope. The contacts that are impacted by a rule as specified by the use of a strategic segment, offer, or offer list, or channel. Rules define both the action and the contacts to which that action applies. For example, a rule might state that "high-value customers" must receive between one and three "discount offers" each 60-day period. "High-value customers" might be a strategic segment that is defined in Campaign and "discount offers" might be a smart offer list that is defined in Campaign. The scope of this rule is restricted to this segment and offer list. The action is to specify a minimum and maximum number of contacts over a 60-day time period.