Celebrate Earth Day with better marketing

The earth - our home.Today is Earth Day – an annual event that began in 1970, which is considered by many to be the spark of the modern environmental movement. Recycling, environmental impact consideration, resource conservation and similar concepts are all rooted in the idea that as humanity grows and evolves, our impact on the environment grows accordingly (and often in negative ways).

It should not be too much of a stretch to understand how that relates to marketing.

Marketing Has An Impact on the Environment
The mailing experts at Pitney Bowes actually published a whitepaper called The Environmental Impact of Mail: A Baseline, which documents plainly and explicitly what happens with mail globally – resource consumption in producing it, and the impact of conservation and recycling. The message is clear – being careful with how much mail you send and accurate targeting to reduce waste is a good thing. Sustainable sourcing and fostering recycling efforts are also good things.

And marketing today is so much more than printed postcards and presorted letters. It’s increasingly digital, which has multiple potential electronic formats and even those have environmental impacts and thoughtful marketers should bear those in mind as well. But environmental impact is one piece of the puzzle.

A Better Customer Experience
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How the mobile customer is changing marketing

Liz Miller is SVP of Marketing for the CMO Council.

Liz Miller, CMO Council

The CMO Council’s Liz Miller thinks mobile is such a huge issue that we absolutely need to talk about it – and I couldn’t agree more. One of the reasons is that there seems to be a slight disconnect between how quickly our customers are advancing in their mobile lifestyles and the way marketers are evolving their mobile strategies.

For that reason, we recently collaborated with the CMO Council on research to identify some of the roadblocks in front of marketers working hard to adapt. The result is called Getting in Sync with Mobile Customers - a report with fresh perspectives on strategy, the marketing mindset, and the advanced analytics that marketers to develop meaningful marketing strategies for mobile.

Mobile needs to be understood as far more than a new part of the marketing mix because of the behavioral changes it’s causing in our customers. Or as Liz puts it, mobile is the “ultimate game-changer.” And if you think you’re a B2B company or a B2C company – you’re wrong. We’re all C2B companies. The customer is in control and the customer is increasingly mobile.

We caught up with Liz at a conference recently and were able to catch about 2 minutes of her views on how mobile customers are changing marketing. Click on the window below to watch– I promise it’s worth your time.

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The Internet of Things: customer experience / marketing responsibility

Connected devices.

They all influence the customer experience.

You may not have known it, but April 9 is Internet of Things Day – a day touted by its organizers as a worldwide event bringing together makers, entrepreneurs, industry leaders and citizens to discuss, design and develop the emerging Internet of Things (IoT). While it doesn’t have quite the pie-eating appeal of Pi Day (March 14), Internet of Things Day is an excellent time for marketers to take stock of the many connected devices and how they increasingly impact the customer experience.

Let’s consider first what IoT is: very simply, it’s connected “things,” devices, machines, tools or systems. They’re connected to each other, and they’re connected to the internet, meaning they can be connected to people (i.e. your customers) in multiple ways.

Mobile technology and the near-ubiquity of Internet access now makes it possible to connect even the most mundane devices and enable users to monitor or manage them remotely. Increasingly, these things are wearable devices that collect data that is highly personal in nature, and in all cases there are enormous opportunities presented by IoT - generally falling into one of two categories:

  1. The ability for users to access the information from the device, and
  2. For marketers to gain real-time insights into the needs and behaviors of the device users.

And both of those categories have the ability to directly or indirectly impact the customer experience. Read More »

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Five keys to effective customer experience personalization

Personalization - it's all the rage! And it's no wonder because people are coming to expect a personalized experience both online and offline, driven in part by the mobile experience. Analytically-driven marketing software makes personalization possible and organizations such as Advance America are doing quite well at it.

But here's the catch - often those processes depend on the customer allowing themselves to be identified, or known. Affinity programs usually enable (and reward) people to self-identify, and location-based services enabled on smartphones allows that to happen as well.

Kelly McGuire is a subject matter expert on the hospitality industry.

Kelly McGuire

But what about those situations where you don't know the customer - either by choice or by circumstance? My colleague Kelly McGuire is a subject matter expert on the hospitality industry and she recently explored this issue in an excellent post to another SAS blog. Because her hospitality industry examples could very well apply in other industries, I'm very happy to highlight excerpts from her post below.

Of particular interest are five key tenets to effective customer experience personalization.


Do I know you? Personalization without a guest profile.

The hotel front desk bell - beginning of a personalized experience?

The front desk bell - beginning of a personalized experience?

With so many possible ways to engage with new potential guests, hotels run the risk of becoming commoditized as they strive to differentiate themselves from competitors and third party distributors. In an effort to connect better with guests, most hotel companies are focusing on improving the guest experience, whether through personalization efforts or giving guests more control over their experience through mobile check-in, mobile keys or choice of rooms.

To support this effort, hotels have been talking about getting that 360 degree view of the guest – gathering as much information as possible about needs, preferences and behaviors across all of their interactions with the guest. Read More »

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Interview: How marketing in the moment matters for mobile

In my ongoing quest to connect people's business problems with sources of technology solutions, my work on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series puts me in contact with some interesting people behind those solutions. Recently, I caught up with John Balla from SAS and got his insights on how marketing automation relates to mobile customers.

His recent role as a panel moderator and sponsor at the DMA's Marketing Analytics Conference in Chicago put him on my radar screen for the fascinating intersection of mobile with analytics, marketing automation and big data platforms. Here are a few of the highlights from our conversation:

TechnologyAdvice: The session you presented at the Marketing Analytics Conference covered mobile engagement and the differentiating role of analytics. Can you give us some highlights from that presentation?

John Balla at the Marketing Analytics Conference.

John Balla at the Marketing Analytics Conference.

John: When you think about mobile in particular, it's such a powerful platform. It's social, it’s search, and it's basic communications like email, text and phone. So mobile is really something that’s affecting the work of marketers in multiple ways. In the past year, I sponsored two studies on what’s happening in marketing with mobile customers that gave me the chance to zero in on the opportunities for marketers with mobile.

  • The first is a study with the CMO Council that we called “Getting in Sync with the Mobile Customer.” It took a pulse on the enterprise view of what's happening with mobile and their customers, and how marketing departments in these organizations are changing to meet the challenge of mobile.
  • The second study was conducted with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where Professor Terri Albert and a group of marketing research graduate students looked at how consumers engage with brands and organizations.

Together, the two studies gave me a chance to see the proverbial “two sides to the coin” and draw some important conclusions about mobile engagement, look at where the linkages are and what some of the trends are that were raised in one project and validated in the other. What we found is that mobile is both a challenge and opportunity in important ways. And while best practices aren’t fully-baked quite yet, mobile is still very much an open field for marketers to establish their market and engage in ways that would give them a competitive edge.

TA: What trends in mobile engagement and analytics can give companies a competitive edge when using marketing automation software? Read More »

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Five factors driving the modern web experience

When was the last time you looked at your own company’s website? I mean, REALLY looked at it? And by that I mean, looked at it from the eyes of someone that knows nothing about your company. Try to do that every so often – it will give you an idea of how your customer engages with your brand.

Scott Calderwood, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing

Scott Calderwood

Now try doing it on a tablet or smartphone. Surf around – try to access content as your customer might: whitepapers, blog posts, demos, videos, etc. Is it a good experience?

Good or bad - no matter what the experience, it should be your concern because your website is a big part of your customers’ web experience. And it’s not a once-and-done endeavor because our customers’ and their expectations are ever-changing, so we need to take steps to evolve the web experience to keep up with our customers.

Here at SAS, my colleague, Scott Calderwood, heads up the team at SAS that focuses on the web experience, and he opened my eyes to the things that he and his team keep in mind as they evolve the SAS website. Knowing the reasons behind recent website changes gives me a new perspective on marketing more holistically that inspired me to write this blog post. In particular, he has a handy-dandy list of five drivers of the modern web experience that I’m happy to share below:

  1. The mobile customer

Google identifies mobile-friendly pages, such as this SAS one for Big Data and moves them up in organic search.Today’s websites have to be mobile-enabled, and the reason is simple: web usage on mobile devices now exceeds traditional PC usage. And wouldn’t it be nice if it were really that simple, but it's not. It’s also a multi-device world, so different screen sizes and operating systems need to be factored into how you manage the web experience when you think about mobile.

Enter Responsive Design – it’s how you ensure pages render as needed independent of device. It’s a key way to have your website fit all known user experiences, and it’s also an important way to stay relevant for search, because it’s preferred by Google. Google now tags sites as “mobile friendly,” and those results rise to the top of organic results as shown in that screen-shot to the left.

It’s likely the same for your company, but that whole “mobile-friendly” designation is important for us because 15% of our web traffic is now mobile (compared to 1% just 4 years ago), and 66% of that traffic comes from organic search (mostly from Google). Read More »

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Five thoughts to keep your digital marketing strategy on track

We need a social strategy! No a digital strategy! Wait, what about mobile? Email isn’t dead, is it?

Almost all marketing today is "digital."These are just a few of the comments I hear flying around all too frequently in meetings and executive workshops lately. Adopting a digital strategy is nothing short of daunting. It requires a lot of planning and there are many considerations to keep in mind. If you're in the majority of marketers today that are thinking about how to go digital more effectively, here are five key thoughts that you will want to keep in mind:

  1. Mind the Gap (and other potentially misleading notions)
    Are you ever lumped into a category in a way that just makes you bristle?  To know what I mean, you only need to think of one story you’ve heard that started with, “When I was your age..." or "Why do they <insert any demographic> seem to...” Social and economic determinants predominantly shape us, not just age, gender or the period in which we are born.
    The inherent value of analytics is that it can help you see diverse facets of your customer far beyond basic demographics ̶  often instantly. Using your data, you can build a more focused and deliberate picture of what they value and their preferences, reconstruct context and deepen your understanding of behaviors.
  2. Minimize Friction
    How many times have you found yourself closing a website or deleting an app because it frustrated you? Friction points are anything that can slow your sales or impede the customer experience. In other words, the stuff that distracts, stresses out or confuses your customers. Read More »
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Supercharge digital marketing with advanced analytics and business intelligence

Gartner just recently released two Magic Quadrant vendor assessment reports that have important implications for marketers:

  1. The first is the Advanced Analytics Platform Magic Quadrant where SAS is nicely positioned in the leader’s quadrant among 16 vendors due to both completeness of vision and ability to execute.
  2. The second is the Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics Platforms Magic Quadrant where SAS competes with 23 other vendors and is solidly positioned in the leader’s quadrant as well, particularly from the vision perspective.

SAS is the leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics and Business Intelligence.
Now you may be thinking to yourself that is all well and good, but I'm a marketer - why do I care?

Business Intelligence reporting
underpinned by Advanced Analytics
will supercharge your Marketing..

Much has been written about the art and the science of marketing. While the art of marketing focuses on hard to quantify factors such as content quality and visual elements, the science side involves processes that can be measured, reported and improved. Read More »

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Leading marketing excellence with analytics

In today’s world, leading your organization to faster, better decisions calls for skill, agility and resourcefulness. Increasingly, it also requires the use of analytics to meet changes in customer expectations brought about with social, mobile and the digitization of life.

The keynote panel at the Marketing Analytics Conference.The lunch keynote at the DMA's Marketing Analytics Conference featured insights and practices from executives that have led their respective organizations to embrace analytics. Adele Sweetwood, VP of Marketing at SAS Institute, moderated this panel that included:

  • Michael Parkerson, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
  • Emmett Cox, SVP of Customer and Business Intelligence at BBVA Compass Bank
  • Jeremy TerBush, VP of CRM and Customer Analytics at RCI/Wyndham Exchange

The Customer Journey

Adele kicked off the discussion with a short video about the customer journey and how it is increasingly influenced by new digital channels and technology. And that journey generates a wealth of information that helps marketers better understand and deliver excellence along that journey through the use of analytics. Read More »

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When crunch time calls for real-time responsiveness

Financial goals are best reached with long-term planning - be it savings plans, carefully arranged financing, or any and all forms of insurance coverage.  When it's part of a plan and all goes well, the results intended are the ones achieved. All very good, right?

A real crunch calls for a real-time response.

No time to dither. A real crunch calls for a real-time response.

But even the best laid plans at some point go awry. Or things simply happen ("it happens') - it's a part of life.

Those can be known as "crunch times," especially when the solution is a financially-driven one that calls for getting a short-term loan. That crunch time can be caused by an accident, a natural disaster, or even a great opportunity that can't be passed up, and in that moment the last thing the customer wants to hear is that you can't help them.

That's the scenario that plays out for most customers of Advance America, a leading provider of short-term loans for people in situations not normally served by banks or other traditional lenders. They can be payday loans, online loans, installment loans, title loans and more. The one critical common denominator to all those scenarios is that they call for real-time responses. So in order to keep their business viable, Advance America needed to find a way to respond effectively in real-time to their customers' crunch times.

In order to do that, Advance America uses analytically-driven real-time decisioning with the goal of being consistently fair, thorough, and most of all, fast. On any given day, they process approximately 20,000 decisions and average about 15-20 milliseconds per decision. They also process about 1,300 new customers each day, averaging about 3 seconds per decision in those cases. Read More »

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