Tag Archives: marketing
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?
- and -
Do you agree? Is marketing an art? A science? Or somewhere in between?
How Do You Target Your Customers at All Channel Touch Points to Individualize Their Shopping Experience? 5 Ways to Personalize Your Product Recommendations
Traditional in-store merchandisers frequently engage in new and refreshing ways to improve the shopping experience for their customers. With thousands of square feet of space, accessorized mannequins, and attractive kiosks and showcase displays, they’re afforded numerous luxuries in creating environments conducive to driving sales.
Since online retailers lack these merchandising luxuries, they leverage entirely different tools to enhance the customer experience, using key components of web-based shopping, such as search, navigation, and product recommendations. In the world of e-commerce, we’ve moved from merely selling to customers to empowering them. As a result, e-commerce directors and online merchandisers need to optimize the process by delivering what their customers want.
And what do customers want? Apparently, they want it all: the price and ease of point-and-click purchasing, the experience of in-store visits, the convenience of home delivery, and the service of boutique shopping. They don’t think about product exposure. They don’t focus on the mechanics of the shopping process. And they don’t care about an e-tailer’s internal complexity. They want simply to buy what they need in a way that’s suited to them.
At the same time, because customers’ needs aren’t static, their online shopping experiences shouldn’t be either. They increasingly expect a personal and highly relevant interaction with the retail websites they visit. Failing to get that, they’ll often go elsewhere. For online retailers and brand manufacturers of consumer packed goods (CPG) this creates the challenge of customer retention.
Here are five hints to maximize the power of PIM for tailored product recommendations
To meet the challenge of customer retention demands leveraging product information management (PIM) to target your customers. This means customizing on-line shopping by boosting the relevance of product recommendations. To make the most of PIM, there are five things you should know:
1. To meet the expectations of your online customers, strive to understand them better by using data that’s qualitative and quantitative, historic and current; in addition, use data that provides a context critical to taking relevant actions.
2. To ensure that the experiences of your online customers aren’t static or boilerplate, make all key elements in the merchandising toolset intuitive and dynamic but, above all, tailored to the individual customer.
3. To leverage relevant content for other sales channels, consider the long-tail strategy and enhance the assortment. If customers dial in to the hotline, inside sales can leverage product search and automatic recommendations for intelligent cross- and up-selling within seconds. The hotline connects customer profiles and product information as well as availability on stock in your own warehouse or in the suppliers’ warehouse.
4. To present the best option to each customer, automate personalization of promotions and targeting. This means checking that every promotional banner that is presented has been optimized; banners that convert poorly must be automatically demoted and replaced by others that perform well. It’s all about automatic testing: Which campaign will convert best and which banner within that campaign—the blue, the red, or the one with a big arrow on it? Adopting an integrated approach ensures that a campaign will not be presented more than once on the same page. By using advanced techniques to understand which promotions appeal to each customer—and, more importantly, which don’t—the solution adapts in real time to present the most appealing banners in the context of each customer’s journey.
5. To ensure a cohesive customer experience, unify the many different information elements—filters, banners, promotions, product recommendations, and editorial content. Seen from the user’s perspective, these elements should all be parts of the same picture, presented in a coherent context. The user expects content shown in all of these panels to be orchestrated and related to what is relevant to him or her right now (see Figure 1).
Information Needs to Be Relevant: Targeting Customers with Product Recommendations Is Valuing Customers Is Keeping Customers
Using the behavioral data generated by product information and customer data (see the entire whitepaper), companies can:
- Monitor product exposure for different customer segments
- Gather information on how your visitors name, find, and filter products
- Learn which requests, products, and categories best boost the conversion of your channel
- Follow up customer behavior online after execution of print campaigns
- Learn which changes in product data have the biggest impact on conversion
With cutting-edge product information management, you can guide and inspire your customers with instant, highly relevant content like real product recommendations. Doing so makes all the difference in boosting the quality of their shopping experience and, ultimately, their loyalty to your site.
One last thing: Have you already thought about tailoring other sales and marketing channels beyond e-commerce and e-mail? What is the next logical buy at a call center or at an on-site store?
Marketing is changing how we leverage data. In the past, we had rudimentary use of data to understand how marketing campaigns affect demand. Today, we focus on the customer. The shift is causing those in marketing to get good at data, and good at data integration. These data points are beginning to appear, as are the clear and well-defined links between data integration and marketing.
There is no better data point than Yesmail Interactive’s recent survey of 100 senior-level marketers at companies with online and offline sales models, and $10 million to more than $1 billion in revenues. My good friend, Loraine Lawson, outlined this report in a recent blog.
The resulting report, “Customer Lifecycle Engagement: Imperatives for mid-to-large companies,” (link requires sign up) shows many midsize and large B2C “marketers lack the data and technology they need for more effective segmentation.”
The report lists a few proof points:
- 86 percent of marketers say they could generate more revenue from customers if they had access to a more complete picture of customer attributes.
- 34 percent cited both poor data quality and fragmented systems as among the most significant barriers to personalized customer communications.
- On a similar note, only 46 percent were satisfied with data quality.
- 48 percent were satisfied with their web analytics integration.
- 47 percent were satisfied with their customer data integration.
- 41 percent of marketers incorporate web browsing and online behavior data in targeting criteria—although one-third said they plan to leverage this source in the future.
- Only 20 percent augment in-house customer data with third-party data at the customer level.
- Only 24 percent augment customer data at an aggregate level (such as the industry or region). Compare that to 58 percent who say they either purchase or plan to purchase third-party data to augment customer records, primarily to “validate data integrity.”
Considering this data, it’s pretty easy to draw the conclusions that those in marketing don’t have access to the customer data required to effectively do their jobs. Thus, those in enterprise IT who support marketing should take steps to leverage the right data integration processes and technologies to provide them access to the necessary analytical data.
The report includes a list of key recommendations, all of which center around four key strategic imperatives:
- Marketing data must shift from stagnant data silos to real-time data access.
- Marketing data must shift from campaign-centric to customer-centric.
- Marketing data must shift from non-integrated multichannel to integrated multichannel. Marketing must connect analytics, strategy and the creative.
If case you have not noticed, in order to carry out these recommendations, you need a sound focus on data integration, as well as higher-end analytical systems, which will typically leverage big data-types of technologies. For those in marketing, the effective use of customer and other data is key to understanding their marketplace, which is key to focusing marketing efforts and creating demand. The links with marketing and data integration are stronger than ever.
Yesterday I attended Informatica’s first annual Cloud Connect conference in San Francisco, which was followed by a Dreamforce 2012 kick-off party sponsored by our partners Astada, Covisint, MicroStrategy and Zyme. It was a busy day, with a keynote from Juan Carlos Soto focused on the three pillars of our cloud computing product strategy, a deep-dive technical update and Ask the Experts stations for one-on-one interaction with product management. We also announced the winners of our 2012 Cloudy Awards! Congratulations to all of the winners! I’ll post some pictures next week. (more…)
A few days ago, I got a text message from a friend telling me that my favorite company’s stock price was suddenly tanking and that I should dump my holding. So I went to the news portal to get a stock quote and see where the stock price happens to be. I found that the stock didn’t move much at all. Thinking that it might’ve been a prank text message, I ignored it. To my dismay, the stock quote I saw was delayed by 20 minutes and the decline wasn’t yet reflected in the news portal. (more…)
In my last post, I introduced the notion that the persistence and/or use of location data as attribution is becoming ubiquitous. Whether we look at the stand-alone GPS devices that decorate the array of windshields across the parking lot or the capabilities typically embedded within our mobile telephones, precise location is, to some extent, overtaking the concept of “address.”
And perhaps there is some value to increasing the use of dimensional coordinates in lieu of an address. As I commented in my previous post, there are still many situations where errors or flaws in location information lead to business impacts. A common example involves marketing or sales mailings – incorrect delivery addresses increase costs when mailings or catalogs are sent to nondeliverable or incorrect addresses. (more…)