Tag Archives: marketing
December is the most popular month to get engaged (according to wedding website TheKnot.com), so it’s likely many of us gearing up for the typical spring/summer calendar full of weekend weddings.
While December is not known as a big month for weddings, it is a big time for jewelers, including the months leading up to it. Diamonds, gold, and other fine jewelry become very popular purchases at this time.
Fine jewelry is an emotional buying decision, which you can see from the jewelry store commercials that evoke sentiment for our loved ones.
But that emotional pull to purchase diamonds, gold and precious stones could be changing significantly.
Diamond sales are down this year – but what is up? Technology-related gifts, including smart phones, tablets, and other functional devices. To understand why, all you have to do is think about the ages of people getting engaged: 18-34 year-olds.
People in that age range who are getting engaged right now just aren’t drawn in by the emotional purchase of fine jewelry anymore, if they ever were. They value technology purchases.
But it’s not just function over form. The emotional motivation behind a purchase (whether technology or fine jewelry or any high-dollar item) is always there.
“Status for this generation isn’t about money — it’s about attention,” said psychology professor Kit Yarrow in a recent Pacific Standard magazine article. Therefore, a smart phone is considered a better gift (and better use for the money) than fine jewelry, since it allows you to share your life and stay connected much more than a gold and diamond ring can do.
As the article notes, using technology to create “an everlasting Facebook album from that scuba diving trip in Bali says so much more than one lone photo of a pave diamond necklace.”
WHAT FUELS YOUR BUSINESS DECISIONS?
The average decision process for a consumer making a purchase is estimated at 80% emotional and 20% rational, according to an annual customer loyalty report from Brand Keys.
It’s interesting to think that the car in your garage, or the shoes on your feet, could have ultimately been something you felt you wanted (80%), and then justified the need for later (20%). Brands, especially in the luxury market, depend on this ratio.
This realization brings us to your business planning as we begin 2015. What guides your business decisions as a data-fueled marketer: emotions, or rationale?
How do brands make decisions about how to operate, what customers to market to, where to locate stores, what marketing campaigns to do, and many more strategic plans? It needs to be much more in the “rational” category – but how do you do that as a data-fueled marketer?
As consumers, we are emotional creatures without even realizing it. That can be a habit we bring to other things in our lives as well, including decisions at work.
Since your customers still have emotional reasons for making a purchase or using a service, the only thing that should be emotional is your messaging to your customers; not your planning. Creating customer profiles and making decisions from them should never be solely a ‘gut feeling’ or only based on your professional instincts.
At the same time, we all know that in our work, over time we develop good instincts about what we do. We learn to trust our sense of what will work or won’t work in the market, or in the supply chain, or within product development – whatever it is you do. You can never ignore that, because no one can completely predict the future with total accuracy. You have to trust your experience and knowledge to lead you.
Turn the 80/20 ratio on its head, and instead focus 20% on emotional thinking and 80% on rational thinking. Make your brand’s business decisions and planning based on good data.
Who are your customers? Where do they live? What do they do and what are their preferences? Basing the answers to these questions only on what has worked in the past, or what you think your customers should want, will only lead to bad business decisions.
The first step, however, is to know that your customer data is valid and complete. Gartner estimates that 40% of failed business initiatives are due to bad data. Validate, correct, and enrich your customer data before you use it. Then as a truly data-fueled marketer, you can use the 20/80 ratio properly and steer your brand to a great 2015.
Marketers, Are You Ready? The Impending Data Explosion from the New Gizmos and Gadgets Unveiled at CES
This is the first year in a very long time that I wasn’t in Las Vegas during CES. Although it’s not quite as exciting as actually being there, I love that the Twitter-verse and industry news sites kept us all up to date about the latest and greatest announcements. Now that CES2015 is all wrapped up, I find myself thinking about the potential of some very interesting announcements – from the wild to the wonderful to the leave-you-wondering! What strikes me isn’t how useful these new gizmos and gadgets will likely be to myself and my consumer counterparts, but instead what incredible new data sources they will offer to my fellow marketers.
One thing is for sure… the connected “Internet of Things” is indeed here. It’s no longer just a vision. Sure, we’re just seeing the early stages, but it’s becoming more and more main stream by the day. And as marketers, we have so much opportunity ahead of us!
I ran across an interesting video interview on the CES show floor with Jack Smith from GroupM on Adweek.com. Jack says that “data from sensors will have a bigger impact, longer term, than the Internet itself.” That is a lofty statement, and I’m not sure I’ll go quite that far yet, but I absolutely agree with his premise… this new world of connectivity is already shifting marketing, and it will almost certainly radically change the way we market in the near future.
Riding the Data Explosion (Literally)
The Connected Cycle is one of the announcements that I find intriguing as a marketer. In short, it’s a bike pedal equipped with GPS and GPRS sensors that “monitor your movements and act as a basic fitness tracker.” It’s being positioned as a way to track stolen bicycles, which is a massive problem in Europe particularly, with the side benefit of being a powerful fitness tracker. It may not be as sexy as some other announcements, but I think there is buried treasure in devices like these.
Imagine how powerful that data would be to a sporting goods retailer? What if the rider of that bicycle had opted into a program that allowed the retailer to track their activity in exchange for highly targeted offers?
Let’s say that the rider is nearing one of your stores and it’s a colder than usual day. Perhaps you could push them an offer to their smart phone for some neoprene booties. Or let’s say that, based on their activity patterns, the rider appears to be stepping up their activity and is riding more frequently suggesting they may be ready for a race you are sponsoring in a few months in the area. Perhaps you could push them an inspirational message saying how great they’re progressing and had they thought about signing up for the big race, with a special incentive of course.
The segmentation possibilities are endless, and the analytics that could be done on the data leaves the data-driven marketer salivating!
Home Automation Meets Business Automation
There were numerous announcements about the connected “house of the future”, and it’s clear that we are just beginning of the home automation wave. Several of the big dogs like Samsung, Google, and Apple are building or buying automation hub platforms, so it’s going to be easier and easier to connect appliances and other home devices to one another, and also to mobile technology and wearables. As marketers, there is incredible potential to really tap into this. Imagine the possibility of interconnecting your customers’ home automation systems with your own marketing automation systems? Marketers will soon be able literally serve up offers based upon things that are occurring in the home in real time.
Oh no, your teenage son finished off all but the last drop of milk (and put the almost-empty jug back in the fridge without a second thought)! Not to worry, you’ve linked your refrigerator’s sensor data with your favorite grocery store. An alert is sent asking if you want more milk, and oh by the way, your shopping patterns indicate you may be running out of your son’s favorite cereal too, so it offers you a special discount if you add a box to your order. Oh yeah, of course he was complaining about being out just yesterday! And whala, a gallon of milk and some Cinnamon Toast Crunch magically arrives at your door by the end of the day. Heck, it will probably arrive within an hour via a drone if Amazon has anything to say about it! No manual business processes whatsoever. It’s your appliance’s sensors talking to your customer data warehouse, which is talking to your marketing automation system, which is talking to a mobile app, which is talking to an ordering system, which is talking to a payment system, which is talking to a logistics/delivery system. That is, of course, if your internal processes are ready!
Some of the More Weird and Wacky, But There May Just Be Something…
Panasonic’s Smart Mirror allows you to analyze your skin and allows you to visualize yourself with different makeup or even a different haircut. Cosmetics and hair care companies should be all over this. Imagine the possibilities of visualizing yourself looking absolutely stunning – if only virtually – with perfect makeup and hair. Who wouldn’t want to rush right out and capture the look for real? What if a store front could virtually put the passer-byer in their products, and once the customer is inside the store, point them to the products that were featured? Take it a step further and send them a special offer the next week to come back buy the hat that just goes perfectly with the rest of the outfit. It all sounds a little bit “Minority Report-esque”, but it’s closer to becoming true every day. The power of the interconnected world is endless for the marketer.
And then there’s Belty… it’s definitely garnered a lot of news (and snarky comments too!). Belty is a smart belt that slims or expands based upon your waist size at that very moment – whether you’re sitting, standing, or just had a too-large meal. I don’t see Belty taking off, but you never know! If it does however, can’t you just see Belty sending a message to your Weight Watchers app about needing to get back on diet? Or better yet, pointing you to the Half Yearly Sale at Nordstrom because you’re getting too skinny for your pants?
The “Internet of Things” is Becoming Reality… Is Your Marketing Team Ready?
The internet of things is already changing the way consumers live, and it’s beginning to change the way marketers market. With the It is critical that marketers are thinking about how they can leverage the new devices and the data they provide. Connecting the dots between devices can become a marketer’s best friend (if they’re ready), or worst enemy (if they’re not).
Are you ready? Ask yourself these 6 questions:
- Are your existing business applications connected to one another? Do your marketing systems “talk” to your finance systems and your sales systems and your customer support systems?
- Do you have fist-class data quality and validation technology and practices in place? Real-time, automated processes will only amplify data quality problems.
- Can you connect easily to any new data source as it becomes available, no matter where it lives and no matter what format it is in? The only constant in this new world is the speed of change, so if you’re not building processes and leveraging technologies that can keep up, you’re already missing the boat!
- Are you building real time capabilities into your processes and technologies? You systems are going to have to handle real-time sensor data, and make real-time decisions based on the data they provide.
- Are your marketing analytics capabilities leading the pack or just getting out of the gate? Are they harnessing all of the rich data available within your organization today? Are you ready to analyze all of the new data sources to determine trends and segment for maximum effect?
- Are you talking to your counterparts in IT, logistics, finance, etc. about the business processes and technologies you are going to need to harness the data that the interconnected world of today, and of the near future? If not, don’t wait! Begin that conversation ASAP!
Informatica is ready to help you embark on this new and exciting data journey. For some additional perspectives from Informatica on the technologies announced at CES2015, I encourage you to read some of my colleagues’ recent blog posts:
What do all marketers have in common? Marketing guru Seth Godin famously said that all marketers are storytellers. Stories, not features and benefits, sell.
Anyone who buys a slightly more expensive brand of laundry detergent because it’s “better” proves this. Godin wrote that if someone buys shoes because he or she wants to be associated with a brand that is “cool,” that brand successfully told its story to the right market.
A story has heroes we identify with. It has a conflict, which the heroes try to overcome. A good story’s DNA is an ordinary person in unusual circumstances. When is the last time you had an unusual result from your marketing campaigns? Perhaps a pay-per-click ad does poorly in your A/B testing. Or, there’s a high bounce rate from your latest email campaign.
Many marketers aren’t data scientists. But savvy marketers know they have to deal with big data, since it has become a hot topic central to many businesses. Marketers simply want to do their jobs better — and big data should be seen as an opportunity, not a hindrance.
When you have big data that could unlock great insight into your business, look beyond complexity and start with your strength as a marketer: Storytelling.
To get you started, I took the needs of marketers and applied them to these “who, what, why and how” principles from a recent article in the Harvard Business Review by the author of Big Data at Work, Tom Davenport:
Who is your hero? He or she is likely your prospective or existing customer.
What problem did the hero have? This is the action of the story. Here’s a real-life example from the Harvard Business Review article: Your hero visits your website, and adds items to the shopping cart. However, when you look at your analytics dashboard, you notice he or she never finishes the transaction.
Why do you care about the hero’s problem? Identifying with the hero is important for a story’s audience. It creates tension, and gives you and other stakeholders the incentive you need to dig into your data for a resolution.
How do you resolve the problem? Now you see what big data can do — it solves marketing problems and gives you better results. In the abandoned shopping cart example, the company found that people in Ireland were not checking out. The resolution came from the discovery that the check-out process asked for a postal code. Some areas of Ireland have no postal codes, so visitors would give up.
Remember it’s possible that the data itself is the problem. If you have bad contact data, you can’t reach your customers. Find the source of your bad data, and then you can return to your marketing efforts with confidence.
While big data may sound complicated or messy, if you have a storytelling path like this to take, you can find the motivation you need to uncover the powerful information required to better engage with your audience.
Engaging your audience starts with having accurate, validated information about your audience. Marketers can use data to fuel their campaigns and make better decisions on strategy and planning. Learn more about data quality management in this white paper.
The other day I ran across an article on CMO.com from a few months ago entitled “Total Customer Value Trumps Simple Loyalty in Digital World”. It’s a great article, so I encourage you to go take a look, but the basic premise is that loyalty does not necessarily equal value in today’s complicated consumer environment.
Customers can be loyal for a variety of reasons as the author Samuel Greengard points out. One of which may be that they are stuck with a certain product or service because they believe there is no better alternative available. I know I can relate to this after a recent series of less-than-pleasant experiences with my bank. I’d like to change banks, but frankly they’re all about the same and it just isn’t worth the hassle. Therefore, I’m loyal to my unnamed bank, but definitely not an advocate.
The proverbial big fish in today’s digital world, according to the author, are customers who truly identify with the brand and who will buy the company’s products eagerly, even when viable alternatives exist. These are the customers who sing the brand’s praises to their friends and family online and in person. These are the customers who write reviews on Amazon and give your product 5 stars. These are the customers who will pay markedly more just because it sports your logo. And these are the customers whose voices hold weight with their peers because they are knowledgeable and passionate about the product. I’m sure we all have a brand or two that we’re truly passionate about.
Total Customer Value in the Pool
My 13 year old son is a competitive swimmer and will only use Speedo goggles – ever – hands down – no matter what. He wears Speedo t-shirts to show his support. He talks about how great his goggles are and encourages his teammates to try on his personal pair to show them how much better they are. He is a leader on his team, so when newbies come in and see him wearing these goggles and singing their praises, and finishing first, his advocacy holds weight. I’m sure we have owned well over 30 pair of Speedo goggles over the past 4 years at $20 a pop – and add in the T-Shirts and of course swimsuits – we probably have a historical value of over $1000 and a potential lifetime value of tens of thousands (ridiculous I know!). But if you add in the influence he’s had over others, his value is tremendously more – at least 5X.
This is why data is king!
I couldn’t agree more that total customer value, or even total partner or total supplier value, is absolutely the right approach, and is a much better indicator of value. But in this digital world of incredible data volumes and disparate data sources & systems, how can you really know what a customer’s value is?
The marketing applications you probably already use are great – there are so many great automation, web analytics, and CRM systems around. But what fuels these applications? Your data.
Most marketers think that data is the stuff that applications generate or consume. As if all data is pretty much the same. In truth, data is a raw ingredient. Data-driven marketers don’t just manage their marketing applications, they actively manage their data as a strategic asset.
How are you using data to analyze and identify your influential customers? Can you tell that a customer bought their fourth product from your website, and then promptly tweeted about the great deal they got on it? Even more interesting, can you tell that that five of their friends followed the link, 1 bought the same item, 1 looked at it but ended up buying a similar item, and 1 put it in their cart but didn’t buy it because it was cheaper on another website? And more importantly, how can you keep this person engaged so they continue their brand preference – so somebody else with a similar brand and product doesn’t swoop in and do it first? And the ultimate question… how can you scale this so that you’re doing this automatically within your marketing processes, with confidence, every time?
All marketers need to understand their data – what exists in your information ecosystem , whether it be internally or externally. Can you even get to the systems that hold the richest data? Do you leverage your internal customer support/call center records? Is your billing /financial system utilized as a key location for customer data? And the elephant in the room… can you incorporate the invaluable social media data that is ripe for marketers to leverage as an automated component of their marketing campaigns?
This is why marketers need to care about data integration…
Even if you do have access to all of the rich customer data that exists within and outside of your firewalls, how can you make sense of it? How can you pull it together to truly understand your customers… what they really buy, who they associate with, and who they influence. If you don’t, then you’re leaving dollars, and more importantly, potential advocacy and true customer value, on the table.
This is why marketers need to care about achieving a total view of their customers and prospects…
And none of this matters if the data you are leveraging is plain incorrect or incomplete. How often have you seen some analysis on an important topic, had that gut feeling that something must be wrong, and questioned the data that was used to pull the report? The obvious data quality errors are really only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the data quality issues that marketers face are either not glaringly obvious enough to catch and correct on the spot, or are baked into an automated process that nobody has the opportunity to catch. Making decisions based upon flawed data inevitably leads to poor decisions.
This is why marketers need to care about data quality.
So, as the article points out, don’t just look at loyalty, look at total customer value. But realize, that this is easier said than done without a focusing in on your data and ensuring you have all of the right data, at the right place, in the right format, right away.
Now… Brand advocates, step up! Share with us your favorite story. What brands do you love? Why? What makes you so loyal?
What are retailers all abuzz about right now as we get closer to the Black Friday / Cyber Monday dates?
This year, retailers are using between 31-50% of their online marketing budget on holiday-related efforts alone, according to the National Retail Federation.
The NRF also projects that almost 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales will come from the holiday period.
This sounds like so much pressure, any retail marketer would crack like a chestnut under it. What’s a marketer to do? Here are some tactics and results around peak season holiday marketing.
Segmentation is a great way to see a big lift in sales. If you have the data to understand your customers and identify emerging segments in your market, you can find new business and directly target it with specific messaging. One recent case reported by Target Marketing Magazine showed a 40% year-over-year sales increase from a new segment that was identified and targeted with tailored messaging. Learn more about getting the most from your customer data in this white paper, “Data Quality Management: Beyond the Basics.”
Know your email sender reputation. You spend so much effort getting the right message out via email marketing with the right timing over different days leading up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday into December. But a poor email sender reputation can lead to those efforts being blocked or sent to the junk folder instead of to your customers. Global retailer BCBG proactively avoided this, using data validation and cleansing techniques to send their sender reputation sky-high (which you can read more about here.) Don’t let a bad sender reputation limit you during the holidays — especially when it can take up to 15 days to fix a major issue like this. Find out more in this short informative video, “Email Sender Reputation: What Does it Mean to Marketers?”
Everyone, positively everyone, is talking about mobile. Practically every article you come across on the subject of retail industry sales around the peak season holiday mentions mobile in some respect – for very good reason. Shoppers take their phones and tablets shopping with them to compare prices, look for deals, and research their purchases beforehand. The NRF reports that 7 out of 10 retailers they surveyed are putting major investments into their mobile-friendly websites. A well-timed SMS message to your customers with a special deal just for them could work wonders. You can take advantage of the huge popularity of SMS mobile messaging in just a few steps. See how in this SMS Quick-Start Guide created for marketers like you.
Citrix: You may not realize you know them, but chances are pretty good that you do. And chances are also good that we marketers can learn something about achieving fortune teller-like marketing from them!
Citrix is the company that brought you GoToMeeting and a whole host of other mobile workspace solutions that provide virtualization, networking and cloud services. Their goal is to give their 100 million users in 260,000 organizations across the globe “new ways to work better with seamless and secure access to the apps, files and services they need on any device, wherever they go.”
Citrix is a company that has been imagining and innovating for over 25 years, and over that time, has seen a complete transformation in their market – virtual solutions and cloud services didn’t even exist when they were founded. Now it’s the backbone of their business. Their corporate video proudly states that the only constant in this world is change, and that they strive to embrace the “yet to be discovered.”
Having worked with them quite a bit over the past few years, we have seen first-hand how Citrix has demonstrated their ability to embrace change.
Back in 2011, it became clear to Citrix that they had a data problem, and that they would have to make some changes to stay ahead in this hyper competitive market. Sales & Marketing had identified data as their #1 concern – their data was incomplete, inaccurate, and duplicated in their CRM system. And with so many different applications in the organization, it was quite difficult to know which application or data source had the most accurate and up-to-date information. They realized they needed a single source of the truth – one system of reference where all of their global data management practices could be centralized and consistent.
The marketing team realized that they needed to take control of the solution to their data concerns, as their success truly depended upon it. They brought together their IT department and their systems integration partner, Cognizant to determine a course of action. Together they forged an overall data governance strategy which would empower the marketing team to manage data centrally – to be responsible for their own success.
As a key element of that data governance / management strategy, they determined that they needed a Master Data Management (MDM) solution to serve as their Single Trusted Source of Customer & Prospect Data. They did a great deal of research into industry best practices and technology solutions, and decided to select Informatica as their MDM partner. As you can see, Citrix’s environment is not unlike most marketing organizations. The difference is that they are now able to capture and distribute better customer and prospect data to and from these systems to achieve even better results. They are leveraging internal data sources and systems like CRM (Salesforce) and marketing automation (Marketo). Their systems live all over the enterprise, both on premises and in the cloud. And they leverage analytical tools to analyze and dashboard their results.
Citrix strategized and implemented their Single Trusted Source of Customer & Prospect solution in a phased approach throughout 2013 and 2014, and we believe that what they’ve been able to accomplish during that short period of time has been nothing short of phenomenal. Here are the higlights:
- Used Informatica MDM to provide clean, consistent and connected channel partner, customer and prospect data and the relationships between them for use in operational applications (SFDC, BI Reporting and Predictive Analytics)
- Recognized 20% increase in lead-to-opportunity conversion rates
- Realized 20% increase in marketing team’s operational efficiency
- Achieved 50% increase in quality of data at the point of entry, and a 50% reduction in the rate of junk and duplicate data for prospects, existing accounts and contact
- Delivered a better channel partner and customer experience by renewing all of a customers’ user licenses across product lines at one time and making it easy to identify whitespace opportunities to up-sell more user licenses
That is huge! Can you imagine the impact on your own marketing organization of a 20% increase in lead-to-opportunity conversion? Can you imagine the impact of spending 20% less time questioning and manually massaging data to get the information you need? That’s game changing!
Because Citrix now has great data and great resulting insight, they have been able to take the next step and embark on new fortune teller-like marketing strategies. As Citrix’s Dagmar Garcia discussed during a recent webinar, “We monitor implicit and explicit behavior of transactional leads and accounts, and then we leverage these insights and previous behaviors to offer net new offers and campaigns to our customers and prospects… And it’s all based on the quality of data we have within our database.”
I encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to Dagmar discuss Citrix’s project on a recent webinar. In the webinar, she dives deeper into their project, the project scope and timeline, and to what she means by “fortune telling abilities”. Also, take a look at the customer story section of the Informatica.com website for the PDF case study. And, if you’re in the mood to learn more, you can download a complimentary copy of the 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for MDM of Customer Data Solutions.
Hat’s off to you Citrix, and we look forward to working with you to continue to change the game even more in the coming months and years!
Fulfilling its duty after a 10-year journey, Rosetta dropped its lander, Philae, to gather data from the comet below.
Everything about the comet so far is both challenging and fascinating, from its advanced age – 4.6 billion years old, to its hard-to- pronounce name, Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The size of Gerasimenko? Roughly that of lower Manhattan. The shape wasn’t the potato-like image some anticipated of a typical comet. Instead it had a form that was compared to that of a “rubber-duck,” making landing trickier than expected.
To add one more challenging feature, the comet was flying at 38,000 mph. The feat of landing the probe onto the comet has been compared to hitting a speeding bullet with another speeding bullet.
All of this would have been impossible if the ESA didn’t have serious data on the lofty goal they set forth.
As this was happening, on the same day there was a quieter landing: Salesforce and LinkedIn paired up to publish research they conducted on marketing strategies by surveying 900+ senior-level B2B and B2C marketers through their social networks about their roles, marketing trends, and challenges they face.
This one finding stood out to me: “Only 17% of respondents said their company had fully integrated their customer data across all areas of the organization. However, 97% of those ‘fully integrated’ marketing leaders said they were at least somewhat effective at creating a cohesive customer journey across all touchpoints and channels.”
While not as many companies were implementing customer data like they should, those who did felt the strong impact of the benefits. It’s like knowing the difference between interacting with a potato-shaped company, or a B2C, vs. interacting with a rubber-duck-shaped company, or a B2B, for example.
Efficient customer data could help you learn how to land each one properly. While the methods for dealing with both might be similar, they’re not identical, and taking the wrong approach could mean a failed landing. One of the conclusions from the survey showed there is a “direct link between how well a marketer integrated customer data and the self-reported successes of that brand’s strategy.”
When interviewed by MSNBC on the comet landing, Bill Nye, also known as “the Science Guy,” had many positive things to say on the historic event. One question he answered was why do programs like the ESA exist – or basically, why do we go to space?
Nye had two replies: “It raises the expectations of your society,” and “You’re going to make discoveries.”
Marketers armed with insights from powerful customer data can have their own “landing on a comet” moment. Properly integrated customer data means you’ll be making new discoveries about your own clientele while simultaneously raising the expectations of your business.
The world couldn’t progress forward without quality data, whether in the realm of retail or planetary science. We put a strong emphasis on validating and cleanse your customer data at the point of entry or the point of collection.
In our interviews of CIOs, they have told us that connecting what IT is doing to business strategy has become a higher priority than even things like improving technical orchestration and overall process excellence. Being CIO today has become much more about business alignment than technology alignment. This means that CIOs and their teams need to understand their firm’s business problems almost as well as they understand their implementations of information technology. One area where CIOs say they are trying to do a better job of alignment is in working with their firm’s Chief Marketing Officer. Confirming this is a recent CIO Magazine Survey that found initiatives around revenue, customer acquisition, and customer retention receiving top IT priority these days.
Geiger IT solves a persistent business problem by aligning with the marketing team
One CIO that that has really taken this to heart is the Dale Denham who is the CIO at Geiger. Dale and his IT team decided that they needed to get closer to their firm’s marketing organization and by doing so was able to go after a persistent business problem and change the IT-business relationship in the process.
At Geiger, their marketing team was limited in their ability to add new products. Competitively, the marketing team needed to improve their product selection. However, they were hitting the wall in updating and maintaining their product mix. Geiger provides its customers with more than 5,000 products, each having as many as 350 variations. This translates to a 175,000 product permutations to price and manage. At the same time, Geiger sells its products through 500 Sales Partners—this, in turn, can create an additional layer of permutation.
The source of this business problem was that Geiger’s ERP and Website systems that required the users to manipulate multiple screens to get to product data and product codes into the system. The system was difficult enough that it took about six weeks to train someone to input product data. Think about the time needed to then do this this across all products, product permutations, and channel partners.
To fix things, Dale and his team partnered with the business. Doing it together rather than separately enabled the IT organization and the business to collaborate and to build a better and more permanent partnership. Dale says, “We have really enjoyed implementing the solution, because the business units are now working very closely with IT”. Dale claims as well the relationship with their business units has gotten to be a very solid, trusting relationship with them, and very collaborative. They have learned to trust IT’s input, and IT has learned a lot from the business units about how they operate and like to operate.”
The impact of working together is clear
The solution that the business and IT derived cut the time to train people in half. In fact, Dale says that new system users are relatively productive within a week, because the solution is faster and easier to use. Dale says that the time per product entry went down from an hour and half to thirty minutes. For this reason, marketing teams are more efficient. Overall, it reduced the process from two months to one week for them to update the customer facing website. By automating the process, they were able to speed up marketing processes. This means marketing can now add and extend to the existing marketing mix and increase customer satisfaction and potential increase customer upsell and cross sell.
The historical the process created a lot of efficiencies for marketing. Marketing staff is now much more focused on what they’re doing from day to day. They have the ability to update products faster from prices and this has stabilized business margins. At the same time, marketing was able to reduce invoice discrepancies. Given all of this, marketing staff is more engaged that they are able to get the job done in a timely manner and to be able to get to market faster with the products.
The solution took the data entry process down from ninety minutes to thirty minutes. And now with this increased efficiency, the marketing staff has focused more of its time on the quality of copy for the product and on getting the graphics of the images up to websites. This has improved overall customer experience. And of course they were able to expand their product offering. They now have three times the throughput capacity, which is what is going to allow Geiger to grow in the future as it provides more product options to customers.
Already they have found that customers are happier with the immediate larger breadth of product to choose from. Lastly, their leadership team is happier because they are able to get more opportunities to grow the business. And this gives them much more ability to satisfy customers and provide for the additional growth they need in the future.
Clearly business and IT alignment is all the rage today. But it starts and ends with a team that solves meaningful business problems. Geiger is a great of example of how to do this right. If you want to learn more about what Geiger did and how they solved their marketing problems, please click this hyperlink.
I recently had the opportunity to have a very interesting discussion with Glenn Gow, the CEO of Crimson Marketing. I was impressed at what an interesting and smart guy he was, and with the tremendous insight he has into the marketing discipline. He consults with over 150 CMOs every year, and has a pretty solid understanding about the pains they are facing, the opportunities in front of them, and the approaches that the best-of-the-best are taking that are leading them towards new levels of success.
I asked Glenn if he would be willing to do a Q&A in order to share some of his insight. I hope you find his perspective as interesting as I did!
Q: What do you believe is the single biggest advantage that marketers have today?
A: Being able to use data in marketing is absolutely your single biggest competitive advantage as a marketer. And therefore your biggest challenge is capturing, leveraging and rationalizing that data. The marketers we speak with tend to fall into two buckets.
- Those who understand that the way they manage data is critical to their marketing success. These marketers use data to inform their decisions, and then rely on it to measure their effectiveness.
- Those who haven’t yet discovered that data is the key to their success. Often these people start with systems in mind – marketing automation, CRM, etc. But after implementing and beginning to use these systems, they almost always come to the realization that they have a data problem.
Q: How has this world of unprecedented data sources and volumes changed the marketing discipline?
A: In short… dramatically. The shift has really happened in the last two years. The big impetus for this change has really been the availability of data. You’ve probably heard this figure, but Google’s Eric Schmidt likes to say that every two days now, we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003.
We believe this is a massive opportunity for marketers. The question is, how do we leverage this data. How do we pull the golden nuggets out that will help us do our jobs better. Marketers now have access to information they’ve never had access to or even contemplated before. This gives them the ability to become a more effective marketer. And by the way… they have to! Customers expect them to!
For example, ad re-targeting. Customers expect to be shown ads that are relevant to them, and if marketers don’t successfully do this, they can actually damage their brand.
In addition, competitors are taking full advantage of data, and are getting better every day at winning the hearts and minds of their customers – so marketers need to act before their competitors do.
Marketers have a tremendous opportunity – rich data is available and the technology is available to harness it is now, so that they can win a war that they could never before.
Q: Where are the barriers they are up against in harnessing this data?
A: I’d say that barriers can really be broken down into 4 main buckets: existing architecture, skill sets, relationships, and governance.
- Existing Architecture: The way that data has historically been collected and stored doesn’t have the CMO’s needs in mind. The CMO has an abundance of data theoretically at their fingertips, but they cannot do what they want with it. The CMO needs to insist on, and work together with the CIO to build an overarching data strategy that meets their needs – both today and tomorrow because the marketing profession and tool sets are rapidly changing. That means the CMO and their team need to step into a conversation they’ve never had before with the CIO and his/her team. And it’s not about systems integration but it’s about data integration.
- Existing Skill Sets: The average marketer today is a right-brained individual. They entered the profession because they are naturally gifted at branding, communications, and outbound perspectives. And that requirement doesn’t go away – it’s still important. But today’s marketer now needs to grow their left-brained skills, so they can take advantage of inbound information, marketing technologies, data, etc. It’s hard to ask a right-brained person to suddenly be effective at managing this data. The CMO needs to fill this skillset gap primarily by bringing in people that understand it, but they cannot ignore it themselves. The CMO needs to understand how to manage a team of data scientists and operations people to dig through and analyze this data. Some CMOs have actually learned to love data analysis themselves (in fact your CMO at Informatica Marge Breya is one of them).
- Existing Relationships: In a data-driven marketing world, relationships with the CIO become paramount. They have historically determined what data is collected, where it is stored, what it is connected to, and how it is managed. Today’s CMO isn’t just going to the CIO with a simple task, as in asking them to build a new dashboard. They have to collectively work together to build a data strategy that will work for the organization as a whole. And marketing is the “new kid on the block” in this discussion – the CIO has been working with finance, manufacturing, etc. for years, so it takes some time (and great data points!) to build that kind of cohesive relationship. But most CIOs understand that it’s important, if for no other reason that they see budgets increasingly shifting to marketing and the rest of the Lines of Business.
- Governance: Who is ultimately responsible for the data that lives within an organization? It’s not an easy question to answer. And since marketing is a relatively new entrant into the data discussion, there are often a lot of questions left to answer. If marketing wants access to the customer data, what are we going to let them do with it? Read it? Append to it? How quickly does this happen? Who needs to author or approve changes to a data flow? Who manages opt ins/outs and regulatory black lists? And how does that impact our responsibility as an organization? This is a new set of conversations for the CMO – but they’re absolutely critical.
Q: Are the CMOs you speak with concerned with measuring marketing success?
A: Absolutely. CMOs are feeling tremendous pressure from the CEO to quantify their results. There was a recent Duke University study of CMOs that asked if they were feeling pressure from the CEO or board to justify what they’re doing. 64% of the respondents said that they do feel this pressure, and 63% say this pressure is increasing.
CMOs cannot ignore this. They need to have access to the right data that they can trust to track the effectiveness of their organizations. They need to quantitatively demonstrate the impact that their activities have had on corporate revenue – not just ROI or Marketing Qualified Leads. They need to track data points all the way through the sales cycle to close and revenue, and to show their actual impact on what the CEO really cares about.
Q: Do you think marketers who undertake marketing automation products without a solid handle on their data first are getting solid results?
A: That is a tricky one. Ideally, yes, they’d have their data in great shape before undertaking a marketing automation process. The vast majority of companies who have implemented the various marketing technology tools have encountered dramatic data quality issues, often coming to light during the process of implementing their systems. So data quality and data integration is the ideal first step.
But the truth is, solving a company’s data problem isn’t a simple, straight-forward challenge. It takes time and it’s not always obvious how to solve the problem. Marketers need to be part of this conversation. They need to drive how they’re going to be managing data moving forward. And they need to involve people who understand data well, whether they be internal (typically in IT), or external (consulting companies like Crimson, and technology providers like Informatica).
So the reality for a CMO, is that it has to be a parallel path. CMOs need to get involved in ensuring that data is managed in a way they can use effectively as a marketer, but in the meantime, they cannot stop doing their day-to-day job. So, sure, they may not be getting the most out of their investment in marketing automation, but it’s the beginning of a process that will see tremendous returns over the long term.
Q: Is anybody really getting it “right” yet?
A: This is the best part… yes! We are starting to see more and more forward-thinking organizations really harnessing their data for competitive advantage, and using technology in very smart ways to tie it all together and make sense of it. In fact, we are in the process of writing a book entitled “Moneyball for Marketing” that features eleven different companies who have marketing strategies and execution plans that we feel are leading their industries.
So readers, what do you think? Who do you think is getting it “right” by leveraging their data with smart technology and truly getting meaningful an impactful results?
I have been in marketing for over two decades. As I meet people in social situations, on airplanes, and on the sidelines at children’s soccer games, and they ask what it is I do, I get responses that constantly amuse me and lead me to the conclusion that the general public has absolutely no idea what a marketer does. I am often asked things like “have you created any commercials that I might have seen?” and peppered with questions that evoke visions of Mad Men-esque 1960’s style agency work and late night creative martini-filled pitch sessions.
I admit I do love to catch the occasional Mad Men episode, and a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon one that had me chuckling. You may remember the one that Don Draper is pitching a lipstick advertisement and after persuading the executive to see things his way, he says something along the lines of, “We’ll never know, will we? It’s not a science.”
How the times have changed. I would argue that in today’s data-driven world, marketing is no longer an art and is now squarely a science.
Sure, great marketers still understand their buyers at a gut level, but their hunches are no longer the impetus of a marketing campaign. Their hunches are now the impetus for a data-driven, fact-finding mission, and only after the analysis has been completed and confirms or contradicts this hunch, is the campaign designed and launched.
This is only possible because today, marketers have access to enormous amounts of data – not just the basic demographics of years past. Most marketers realize that there is great promise in all of that data, but it’s just too complicated, time-consuming, and costly to truly harness it. How can you really ever make sense of the hundreds of data sources and tens of thousands of variables within these sources? Social media, web analytics, geo-targeting, internal customer and financial systems, in house marketing automation systems, third party data augmentation in the cloud… the list goes on and on!
How can marketers harness the right data, in the right way, right away? The answer starts with making the commitment that your marketing team – and hopefully your organization as a whole – will think “data first”. In the coming weeks, I will focus on what exactly thinking data first means, and how it will pay dividends to marketers.
In the mean time, I will make the personal commitment to be more patient about answering the silly questions and comments about marketers.
Now, it’s your turn to comment…
What are some of the most amusing misconceptions about marketers that you’ve encountered?
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Do you agree? Is marketing an art? A science? Or somewhere in between?