From Mad Men to Math Men

HBO's Mad Men series is very popular.In a recent post Today's agencies: the new Mad Men of data, my colleague Diana DiMaiuta mentioned that marketers need to use big data to enhance the customer experience, do better segmentation and automate campaign reporting. But there is more to it... it's not only about these three topics. It's about doing more responsible marketing. Why?

Companies no longer give unlimited budgets to their marketing departments. Executives now expect that all marketing efforts be measured and return on investment is demonstrated! Marketers are increasingly held accountable for their programs and are required to analyze their efforts and explain the results they produce.

As I’m working for an analytical software company, that is of course easy to say - but we are not alone! In a recent blog post by Michael Schrage on Harvard Business review, “Marketers Don’t Need to Be More Creative,” he confirms SAS's viewpoints on marketing: companies need to adopt data-driven marketing and take action based on measured results. One of his main points is this:

Metrics let you learn in ways that creativity does not. The ability to see who takes an in-store selfie or tweets a product complaint confers power and insight. New media should inspire new metrics. New metrics should create new accountability. New accountability should provoke and promote new kinds of creativity.

It's a great point, and it’s why I believe “Mad Men” need to become “Math Men.” Forget mass mailings, one-to-many email blasts; the times of Don Draper are over, a real change is coming! Read More »

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We’re traveling at the speed of cool to creepy

The Big Data MOPS Series with Tamara DullWho would you give your personal information to: your state’s new toll road system, an amusement park, neither, or both?

At a Forrester event earlier this year, Melissa Parrish, a Forrester VP and research director, told the story about how her father (we’ll call him Bob), who lives in New Jersey, was rattled by NJ’s E-ZPass system to streamline toll collection on roads. “There’s no way I’m giving them my personal information so I can get a pass!” he told his daughter.

Bob had been traveling the toll roads to his job in New York City for decades, and he had no interest in getting an E-ZPass electronic tag in his car. Yet later, when Bob went to Disney World in Orlando with his grandchildren, he was delighted with Disney’s new MagicBand, and couldn’t stop raving about it.

Given Melissa’s deep knowledge of customer data and how it’s used, she didn’t understand why her father was not okay sharing his personal data with the NJ Turnpike Authority—even though it meant he would save time and money on his daily commute. Yet, Bob was more than willing to let Disney track his every move, check-in to FastPass+ rides, buy food, and get in and out of the park and hotel—all with the swipe of the band on his wrist.

This is the dilemma we all face: How much personal information are we willing to give up to enjoy some of the conveniences offered by technology today? And at what point does cool (like Disney’s MagicBand) cross the line and become creepy (like NJ’s E-ZPass)? Read More »

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How analytics helps avoid customer relationship break-ups

Jim Foreman talking about marketing.

Jim Foreman talking about marketing.

You can always tell when a person is enjoying himself – the bright eyes, the smiling face and the hand gestures are unmistakable. Jim Foreman from Staples is an executive that clearly enjoys talking about both marketing and analytics, which makes his presentations both informative and enjoyable.

Recently, Jim shared his perspectives about customer relationships by comparing them to personal relationships, and particularly how the right approach to a relationship can be useful in avoiding a breakup.

And like personal relationships, business relationships are fundamentally about people and how they relate, so his view is that the

Jim Foreman talking about Analytics.

Jim Foreman talking about Analytics.

possibility of a breakup in business follows the same patterns as what you find on a personal level, with two principal causes:

  • Misaligned expectations
  • Unmet needs.

Misaligned expectations:

Every relationship has expectations – customer expectations in a business setting can be such things as a clean environment, reasonably good assortment and decent prices.

The personal relationship equivalents relate to attention to appearance and good manners. These are always important, but especially in the early stages. The main point Jim makes, however, are that very few relationships are successful in the long-term if the majority of expectations are not met.

Expectations can get tricky once you realize that people may engage with your brand at different times in different personas. Read More »

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The Magic Johnson way to marketing success

Magic Johnson at DMA 2014

Magic Johnson working the crowd.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson  is very large in stature and even larger in personality. He is often remembered as a professional basketball star and is now making his mark in the business world in a characteristically large-sized way.  And Magic just loves to prove people wrong – especially if they tell him he can’t do something.

At many stages throughout his career, he has been underestimated by people who did not think he “had what it took” to meet the challenge at hand. And apparently hearing that doubt in his abilities is all it takes to steel his determination. To that highly personal motivator, he offers a few other key factors for marketers to embrace for success.

Magic Johnson's outsized personal charisma really shines.

Magic Johnson's outsized personal charisma really shines.

Get out of your comfort zone

He credits obstacles and circumstances from his early years with teaching him how to understand and deal with people and situations way outside his comfort zone – key talents he attributes to success in business. One way he’s been effective in business is by focusing on urban communities – and more specifically in getting companies investing in ethnically diverse urban communities that would normally overlook them. Taking this approach, Magic got Starbucks to grant him a franchise for urban locations and then was able to report better metrics than the corporate-owned stores.

Know your customer

This is so important that it’s not simply a concern of marketing – it’s business strategy. And this is how Magic believes he was able to make inner-city Starbucks locations a success. In his words, out went the scones and in came the sweet potato pies. Out went the music tracks heard in traditional Starbucks locations and in came the Earth Wind & Fire and other bands more familiar to the inner city resident.

For B2B, it’s a matter of knowing the core values of the organization, and of the CEO. Research the company mission statement and convey your value proposition in terms of how you can help the company fulfill its mission. Read More »

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Connecting the data dots keeps these companies alive

The Big Data MOPS Series with Tamara DullWhat do the following companies have in common: Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Orbitz, Airbnb, Angie’s List,, OpenTable, and Uber?

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Presence. They’re all online; they have no brick-&-mortar presence. If their website or mobile app is unavailable, it’s as if they don’t exist.
  • Primary asset. Their primary corporate asset is data, specifically data (mostly big data) created by users. They do not sell physical inventory.
  • Business model. Their primary function is to connect users with the right web page, person, and/or service. If connections aren’t relevant, quick, or easy, users move on.
  • Revenue model. They make their money by connecting the data dots, primarily through advertising or service fees. If connections aren’t made, money is lost.
  • Top companies. Interestingly enough, Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Orbitz are included in Forbes’ 2014 ten best companies to work for list. And Google, Facebook, and Twitter are included in Glassdoor’s Top 25 Companies for Culture & Values 2014 list.

Bottom line: If any of these companies fail to keep collecting and connecting the data dots for its users, for whatever reason, they will go out of business.

About data as a corporate asset. Let’s take a closer look at the point that these companies’ primary asset is data. Read More »

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George Blankenship on doing the impossible

Word-of-mouth references and first-person accounts are usually the best way to get the “real deal” on something. It’s how you can get unfiltered information that’s almost as good as having the experience first hand. George Blankenship at the Premier Business Leadership Series.

With that idea in mind, I was more than pleased to hear George Blankenship share his unique perspective from a long career of creative breakthroughs at game-changing companies like Tesla Motors, Apple and The Gap.

George speaks with authority about doing the impossible.

The common thread at all three companies is that they’ve managed to pull off the impossible. So how and why did it happen at each of those companies? George attributes it to the ability to step back and see what’s happening more clearly than whoever happens to be the dominant player in the market at the time. Read More »

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Does your loyalty program do what it’s supposed to?

Theoretically, loyalty programs are supposed to motivate customers to be loyal. But does it always turn out that way? Evidence is mounting that points to the fact that loyalty programs condition customers to expect discounts, and they don’t always cultivate loyalty. And the danger with that discount-driven scenario is that:

The loyalty program becomes only as good as the next discount.

Recent estimates by Colloquy are that there are over 2.6 billion loyalty program memberships in the USA. Considering there are about 240 million adults in the USA, that translates to a little over 11 loyalty memberships per adult and in the past two years the number has grown at about 26.7%. With overall population growing at 1% per year in the US, that accelerating loyalty program growth suggests that loyalty programs are quite popular. But do they engender loyalty?

Separate data from research by Maritz has revealed that active membership grew at a slower rate over the same period and that the percent of active memberships declined from 46% to 44%. So we have loyalty programs acquiring new members at a brisk clip, but the decline in active status suggests that a significant and growing portion of them are unengaged.

International Institute for AnalyticsThose market dynamics motivated us to work with two organizations this year to study loyalty programs from two viewpoints – one from the enterprise perspective, and one from the consumer perspective – and combine the two for some interesting conclusions. The IIA (International Institute for Analytics) conducted the research to get the enterprise perspective, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Managementand we worked with the graduate program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management ("Kellogg") to get the consumer perspective. Many rich insights were gained in taking this two-pronged approach and a few clear conclusions emerged. Read More »

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Exploring how to get in sync with mobile customers

Mobile Customers on a Journey

Customers on a Mobile Journey

Mobile technology and the advent of tablets and smartphones have transformed whole industries and are changing customer behavior in ways that impact marketers around the globe.

More than just another channel, mobile is digital and social at the same time.  It’s making the quest for marketers to stay in sync with the customer journey infinitely more complex and nuanced as the digitally empowered customer now has new expectations for a fully connected, mobile, personalized and relevant experience. And opportunities often show up disguised as challenges, and the challenge of mobile customers is no exception.

Great opportunities come with the stream of digital data from mobile. The rich data source enables marketers to learn more about customer preferences without being intrusive, opening avenues to inform product development, packaging, pricing, distribution, contact policies, and more.

Classic Mobile Customers

Classic Mobile Customers

The streams of data from mobile also allow for measurement and testing to drive efficiency gains and the ability to “fail faster,” and therefore recover sooner. Through that process we learn and get better at what we do. It’s all very exciting – but it’s not the data itself that gets the job done.

In order to reap all those rewards, you need marketing analytics to make the necessary connections among the data, to unlock the hidden insights and to go beyond understanding simply what your customers want. Read More »

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Want to predict your customer's next move?

Senior Solutions Architect Suneel Grover

Suneel Grover

People are funny. They’re often fickle, choosy, demanding and impatient. At times, they’ll say one thing and then do another. So when they become customers, how can you possibly predict what they’ll do? Well it turns out there are ways to do it quite effectively using data and analytics. One advocate of such approaches is SAS Senior Solutions Architect, Suneel Grover.

Suneel posted a blog recently about this topic on the Direct Marketing Association’s Annual Conference blog, which I am happy to cross-post here with permission:


Predictive Marketing, Digital Intelligence, & Today’s Consumer

Today’s Consumer

Today’s consumer can access an increasingly wide range of media and online information in addition to their traditional offline shopping behavior. Due to the falling costs and increasing availability of smartphones and mobile devices, they are also exploring digital channels and mobile apps. This is driving multi-channel experiences and diversified media usage – often in parallel with higher expectations regarding their personal needs and preferences.  As a result, consumer marketing is becoming far more complex and time-dependent. The structures, processes, and systems currently in place in many companies are not able to deal with this omni-channel phenomenon. Valuable information is either lost not fully exploited – primarily due to the absence of central data management and control.

Digital Intelligence Enables Predictive Marketing

We are living in the age of the consumer, where consumer obsession is the new frontier of competitive differentiation — scaled and fueled by insights. Read More »

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Dear Facebook, it’s not you. It’s us.

The Big Data MOPS Series with Tamara Dull

Dear Facebook,

Last week, we reached our 7-year anniversary mark. Have we really been together that long?! Because, honestly, it feels like forever. I’m sorry we didn’t celebrate, but I really didn’t feel like it. Ever since you asked me for my home address a few months ago, my feelings have begun to change. You crossed a line, dude.

Granted, it’s not the first time you’ve crossed the line—you’ve done it many times before—but this time, it was different. I know that I don’t talk much about my work with you and my friends, but I’m keenly focused on big data and privacy issues—two topics you know all about and use to exploit / build our relationship. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Facebook Screenshot

I used to think it was about me.

I remember when we first hooked up. It was fun. It was new. You made it easy for me to connect with friends, family members and colleagues from years gone by. You even suggested that I connect with interesting strangers from all around the world. Read More »

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