How to challenge your customer view

“Is yoga a sport?” Years ago, an executive at Adidas found himself pondering this very question. At the time, the sports design paradigm centered on competitive edge and athleticism. But, not every customer is a professional athlete. Where did customers engaged in recreational activities fit?

Also for yoga (and so much more).

Also for yoga (and so much more).

The “yikes” moment for Adidas was realizing that the industry model was incongruent with reality. After looking at their existing data critically, they still fell short of answering his question. The historical data supported the current paradigm and didn’t reveal any new insights on yoga as a sport.

Adidas turned to Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel Rasmussen for help. Together they embarked on a new investigative journey. They collected new, largely qualitative data on what drives customers to buy and use their products. They wanted to know what motivated people to participate in sports like yoga, biking, or jogging.

The result of the research was compelling as described in this article, Here's Why Companies Are Desperate To Hire Anthropologists.  I’ll give you a hint: being a better athlete wasn’t the answer.

As the world around us changes, so do we. Smart companies, like Adidas, learn how to tap into and capitalize on these changes. Here are some important lessons we can all learn from Adidas:

Challenge the way you view your customer

Today, roughly 20 million Americans practice yoga. If Adidas had refused to expand their view of the customer, they would have missed out what is now a major market. Adidas’ willingness to explore and rethink their customer view led to some major “a-ha” moments. Innovative companies do this regularly. Read More »

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How optimisation delivers value: the hands-on view

Optimisation techniques are used in a variety of business contexts to find the best combinations that deliver the desired results, often measured in terms of value added from maximising revenues, minimising expenditures, or both. In marketing, a frequent problem that's well suited to optimisation is when one has:

Optimisation creates value from confident data-driven decisions.

Optimisation creates value from confident data-driven decisions.

  • Many customers (often millions of them) ,
  • Multiple potential offers,
  • Rules that determine the number and frequency of offers,
  • Resource constraints (such as budget), and
  • The need to maximise something, such as sales or profit.

Optimisation quickly gets complicated because to find the best solution, one needs to consider all the combinations that exist, and with millions of customers and hundreds of communications, optimisation is not an easy problem.  SAS solves this with SAS Marketing Optimization (SAS MO), but the principles surrounding the challenge that I am outlining here are relevant to any of the so called ‘large scale’ optimisation challenges.

Often people think that they need many models to justify using optimisation techniques, or to get the best out of the optimisation.  So whilst the latter is partially true, I really don’t think that the former is, especially when considering what one is trying to achieve. I would even go as far as to say that you can get significant performance improvements with optimisation, even if you have only a few, or even no models, (none, zilch, zero!).  Let me try and justify this:

The uplift in optimisation solutions, when compared to how a BAU (Business as Usual) approach is performing depends on three core factors: Read More »

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Why marketers should listen to their fathers

I celebrated my first Father's Day 17 years ago.

I celebrated my first Father's Day as a father 17 years ago.

It’s Father’s Day and once again I am crowd-sourcing some fatherly advice to provide guidance to marketers. While marketing and the world we live in have changed dramatically, the essence of fatherhood has remained fairly constant. Part hands-on and part supportive of their children’s mother, dads are often thought of in their role as the house’s fixer-in-chief. If the toilet overflows, if the bike chain goes off track, or if the family car gets another unexplained spontaneous dent, it’s often dad who gets called in to take care of it.

So as marketers deal with the increasingly complex mandates we fulfill in the enterprise, here are some pearls of wisdom from my colleagues that may come in handy when we need a fixer-in-chief:

If you lost an engine, look out the window at the wing and use the horizon.

Karen Morse’s dad, the Rev. Ralph Jackson, is a retired minister, pilot and FAA private pilot instructor who would tell that to Karen as she learned to fly their Piper Cherokee. That could also apply if the pilot uses their navigation system.

The lesson for marketers is that more than one reference point is helpful to gauge progress toward the goal, so if something goes awry not all is lost mid-stream. It’s also a call to think of broader business goals to understand marketing’s impact as the pace of technological change accelerates – the horizon and its relationship to the destination are two constants in any flight that can be relied upon. That relationship is analogous to marketing in the grand scheme of your business.

When you use something, always put it back where you found it.
Always remember what happened and keep the history alive.

These two are from Michelle Pujol, Director at Univision Direct, and Godmother to my children. The first advice is from her father, Joaquín Pujol, who explained that if you don’t put things back then you’ll have a heck of a time trying to find it the next time you need it. The second advice is from her Opa, an Austrian Holocaust survivor that explained to his grandchildren that if those that come before us don’t know what happened, history can easily repeat itself.

These both speak to the need for marketers to keep and analyze data so the drivers of success and the causes of failure can be identified and harnessed to constantly improve, and to benefit newcomers to the organization.

Find a stream and fish. Read More »

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Five steps to omni-channel marketing - step one

As a customer intelligence adviser, my work exposes me to a wide range of organizations with various marketing challenges and available resources. Over time, some common themes have emerged, one of which is omni-channel marketing as a business imperative. Changes in the ways customers engage with brands across an explosion of channels have prompted the need for organizations to engage in omni-channel marketing.

Best practices are starting to emerge for mastering omni-channel marketing, and I've seen that they seem to fall into a five-step pattern, which I will lay out for you in this short blog series titled, Five steps to omni-channel marketing.

Steps to omni-channel marketing

Steps to omni-channel marketing

During recent customer visits, I have noticed assumptions being made about making the transition from mass marketing to omni-channel marketing - at times expecting it to take just a month or two. Most of the time customers are surprised when I explain that there is a maturity curve you need to go through. In today’s blog post I will try to explain my vision on moving from mass marketing to fully omni-channel marketing.

We have detected 6 maturity levels when it comes to omni-channel marketing. Every level requires a more advanced step of analytics. So the evolution from one level to the next is directly linked to the maturity of the insights you can create. For example event-driven campaigns on churn may prove much less effective if you don’t score the people that have a high probability to churn.

The goal of omni-channel marketing is to deliver the right message, at the right time, through the right channel, taking into account your commercial strategy. The inclusion of your commercial objectives is important because achieving customer centricity is only meaningful when it supports your business goals. So on that basis, let's examine the first step in this process. Read More »

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6 things to know about data storytelling

The Fitbit. I wasn't convinced I really wanted one until a coworker showed me a staggering number of pounds lost on a very colorful dashboard. In her sweet Texas drawl, she explained, “It’s all here. My sleep patterns, amount of water I drank, calories eaten, and even steps taken.” One little wristband collects all kinds of data and pushes it to the user in a fun, easy to use format. The data collection is great, but what really fascinated me was what the dashboard meant to her.

Bree's Fitbit.

Bree's Fitbit.

Before the Fitbit, Bree didn’t understand what patterns and behaviors were the most damaging to her health. Seeing her data brought to life inspired her to overhaul her entire lifestyle. And this lesson from the Fitbit is one of data storytelling across multiple media, or "transmedia storytelling" as Bree puts it in this fantastic three-part blog series.

Through a simple dashboard Fitbit painted a picture of someone’s reality. Hearing about Bree’s experience made me truly appreciate the impact of visuals on how we think and feel, and the art of data storytelling. Yes, all data tells a story. However, applying a meaningful narrative to the data is what makes storytelling an art. Data visualization can help you get there.

Here are some best practices you can use to build your credibility and solidify your expertise as a visual storyteller:

  1. Remember who the expert is

The subject matter expert’s job is to ensure the relevancy and accuracy of the data. We all know the perils of manipulating data to serve our own purposes. Act continuously as a steward for your data by omitting (or at least admitting) your own biases and assumptions. This is especially important when you construct visualizations. Sure, scaling a weight-tracking graph to make it appear someone is losing more weight than in reality sounds nice, but it is a disservice to the person relying on it.

  1. Research your audience

Knowing your audience will clarify who the story is for and help you establish relevancy. Jeff Bladt and Bob Filbin of and Crisis Text Line point out in their HBR post the importance of focusing on data that affect their key metrics. Their goal is to get teenagers involved in volunteering. Therefore, they want to know what motivates teens to volunteer and how to recruit them. When presenting findings to employees their conversation and supporting data visualizations focus on engagement not on regression analysis and R plots. Likewise, Bree’s Fitbit dashboard isn’t going to show a molecular analysis of the nutrients she eats. Rather, it simply shows whether she has eaten too many or too little for her weight goals.

  1. Don’t forget context

When we start building a narrative around our data, it is easy to omit context. I still remember my college statistics professor teaching us about correlation and causation. “See, this graph shows a correlation between murder and ice cream.” The obvious lesson was ice cream does not result in murder. In the case he presented, it was a spike in crime during the summer. Data visualization is so powerful that we can easily overlook omitted information. As a storyteller, your job is to make sure you have presented the data in a fair and complete manner. If you are not sure what factors are influencing your results, you may have some more exploring to do.

  1. Design Matters

Data visualization reduces our information processing time. We processes visuals far faster than any other kind of information. So how you display information matters. Be selective about the amount of detail and color you use. Provide comparative charts and data when appropriate. They work - our brains are optimized to consume information visually.

  1. Use data visualization strategically

When my colleague first told me about the Fitbit, she hooked me by showing me one number first, her total weight loss. I couldn’t help but pay attention. Once she had my attention she walked me through what each visualization meant literally and to her overall goals. It was logical and sequential. Every visualization had meaning, which is critical to both understanding and adoption. Don’t believe me? Our average attention span is roughly 8 seconds.

  1. Share your story

Think back to your audience. Your audience will determine the best method of delivery. Chances are it will involve some degree of visualization, if you are smart. A well-constructed story will carry across many different channels (transmedia).

Joan Didion once said, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live...” For my colleague Bree, it is was about changing her lifestyle. Seeing her life in pictures helped her understand what she was doing well and what she needed to improve.

Storytelling is a combined ability to understand the larger context and link together threads of data in a meaningful way. Visualizations are one of the most powerful ways of deriving meaning from the data. They help us connect the dots and share our findings with those around us. So, what story will you tell?

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Customer loyalty is earned with customer experience focus

Use analytics for best customer experiences that build loyalty.

A happy customer will be a loyal customer.

Collecting and counting points in order to reach a threshold - and ultimately receive some sort of reward - these are the loyalty programs we know of today. Recently I have read a lot about how brands are looking to overhaul their loyalty programs - to reach more customers and generations and to provide more relevant rewards. All to improve the customer experience and provide more relevant and contextual offers than what consumers receive today.

The fact of the matter is this - loyalty programs are ubiquitous. According to Maritz the typical household has 21.9 loyalty program memberships, with the average person belonging to 7.4 unique programs. The question is: are organizations using them effectively, to keep customers truly loyal over time?

A recent study from the International Institute of Analytics (IIA) and SAS titled, Keeping Customers: Successful Loyalty Through Analytics, looked at the current landscape for loyalty programs in the U.S. from the perspective of loyalty managers. Disappointingly, only 16 percent reported they have a “very effective” loyalty program. This seems to echo that same research from Maritz that reports only 35 percent of members are engaged in all of the loyalty programs they belong to; on average, people are active in 4.7 of the 7.4 programs to which they belong.

So, what is going wrong? To answer that perhaps we should focus on what highly successful programs are doing right. Read More »

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How a successful marketing strategy drives revenue growth

A great marketing strategy should always include research and reporting components to help sales find “gold” in potential and existing customer data to gain new revenue.

Successful marketing strategies drive revenue growth.

Successful marketing strategies drive revenue growth.

Sales teams are always looking to their marketing counterparts to help get new leads to turn them into successful opportunities. It's simply not enough to just provide names and contact information of someone who dropped their business card into a bowl at an exhibit booth. They need much more.

In order to drive revenue growth, successful marketing strategies must also focus on providing contacts at viable prospect companies with key details, such as: identified industry, location, company size/revenue, department, title, job, current technology utilized for the business need (if available), and specific future growth plans (if available). Those data points are essential prior to formulating your plan.

The best results happen when everyone remembers that marketing and sales are a team with both functions supporting the other. For instance, marketing can fuel revenue growth by providing sales with research data about the prospects at the heart of specific interactions, which can include behavioral data, such as response rates, which can confirm business needs and the relative interest level in a given topic. Both teams will flourish if marketing strives to assist and encourage sales to uncover more knowledge of their prospects and customers through social selling resources and channels and by collaborating throughout the process. Read More »

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Marketing accountability is trending up with marketing analytics

Marketing Accountability is trending up.

Marketing Accountability is trending up.

The topic of Marketing Accountability is very hot right now. Also know as Marketing Measurement or Marketing Attribution, it looks at how brands can demonstrate the value of the marketing programs they put in place and execute.

In order to demonstrate this value, organizations often use software or programs that are based on analytical techniques - such as attribution, model scoring, forecasting, and optimization. This piece looks at how we believe programs used to measure marketing will continue to increase in popularity as more and more marketing departments at global brands are measuring everything they do inside of the marketing department.

With that backdrop, I found the trends indicated in the marketing analytics portion of the 2015 CMO Survey, intriguing, specifically three items:

  • Marketing analytics spend will increase 3 percent over next 3 years (the italics are mine).
  • Marketing analytics usage by project has decreased to 29 percent, down from 32.3 percent.
  • Only 30 percent of all companies evaluate marketing analytics quality.

And, interestingly, while organizations seem to use marketing analytics for customer acquisition and retention, social media, product optimization, and multichannel marketing, they are using it less frequently for promotion strategy, marketing mix, and to serve recommendations (next best actions or offers).

So marketing analytics spending is going up, but usage is going down. And those who do use it are limiting the scope to tactical projects. Why? There may be several reasons, but most of them point to a common theme: Marketing accountability. Analysis associated with large data volumes is complex. Managing, cleaning, and processing the data are arduous tasks. But poor-quality data generates analytical results that are equally deficient. The fact that only 30 percent of all companies are quantitatively measuring the quality of their marketing analytics tells me that gut feel marketing still rules in far too many places.

Here’s where the accountability comes in. Read More »

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How to give a "magic" customer experience every time

Basketball Fans 3In today’s digital world, even the most dedicated customers can have different needs and preferences at different times and places. And while customers can certainly be fickle, that’s not what always drives the situationally-dependent nature of the customer relationship. It’s life today that makes it so complex.

Think of your own customers and the many ways they interact with your organization. Are there times and ways the same customers want to interact with you differently? It’s a rare business where the answer to that question is no.

For a sports franchise, their customers are known as “fans.” And the fan experience for most professional sports has evolved to the point where it involves much more than the seat in the arena. It’s in merchandise and paraphernalia, it’s at the concession stand, it’s on social media, it’s in the online store, it’s on television, it’s on bumper stickers and bobble-heads, and it’s just about anywhere the fan is wearing the team jersey.

Not all businesses have customer relationships with those same elements, but all of our customer relationships are similarly complex. And customer expectations have evolved across all the channels. Analytics have enabled forward-thinking companies to keep up with these changes so they can deliver the right customer experience at the right time.

One such business is the Orlando Magic - the successful NBA franchise basketball organization in central Florida. Given their operating environment amid other world-class attractions and year-round warm, sunny weather, their success demonstrates the power of using analytics to manage the customer experience across all the different ways their fans engage with them.

Tune into the short video below and hear first-hand from executives about how using analytics in marketing makes a big difference to the Orlando Magic's bottom line:

 Let me know what you think. And as always - thank you for following!

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A great digital customer experience is not accidental

The digital customer experience should look nothing like this.

The digital customer experience should look nothing like this.

Providing a great digital customer experience is more and more important, and yet many brands seem not to care by providing less than stellar experiences over and over again. It's like déjà vu, a French term that means “already seen,” which is used to describe the sensation that you have already experienced something that is actually happening for the first time. Up to 70 percent of people report having experienced some form of déjà vu, and for me it seems to happen all the time - especially in my experience as a digital consumer.

I am a modern consumer guy who uses multiple channels to engage with brands of all sizes, which marketers frequently refer to as a “hyper-connected consumer.” And along the way, I leave bits of information behind via online searches, Twitter comments, online surveys, online purchases and live chats. The idea of using all that data to make improvements in marketing is not new, and yet I often have the strong sensation that I've been here and done that when engaging with a brand.

Sadly, I still get poor customer service from cable, media and wireless companies. Financial institutions send me irrelevant credit card and mortgage offers and retailers have insufficient product selection and inventory when I visit -- either online or in-store. It doesn't have to be like this, I promise.

Organizations can and should use all the channels and resources at their disposal to provide the hyper-connected consumer with a stellar experience regardless of channel. But how can they harness their marketing automation and digital experience initiatives accordingly to manage the digital customer journey?

There are three key areas organizations can focus on to ensure that great digital customer experiences are not accidental - collect digital data, use digital intelligence and analytics, and integrate the digital ecosystem. Here are the approaches I recommend in these three areas: Read More »

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