Not everything that counts can be counted, not everything that can be counted counts.’ Einstein said this years ago & marketers lived with the philosophy as they rarely had the data. But in earlier days, advertising was all about creativity & possibly data did not have much of a place here!
But now data seems to be cutting a wider swathe & marketing seems to be in the midst of the “perfect storm” with digital, mobile & content coming together to create mountains of data.
Till recently, when we spoke about Data based marketing, it always seemed to be a niche with most marketers doing it as an “add on” to the big marketing jobs consisting of Advertising & promotions. Data based marketers seemed to be these very passionate people with comparatively little impact in the bigger scheme of things.
Also data seemed to be more important in some industries, banking & telecom as against others like FMCG! But it is interesting how this world is changing! And the changes are not only driving a larger “data orientation” amongst marketers, it is also driving a fundamental change on how Marketing can contribute to Revenue generation.
Harvard Business Review called “data scientist” the “sexiest” job of the 21st century, and McKinsey predicts a shortfall of about 140,000 by 2018. Yet most companies are still clueless as to how they’re going to meet this shortfall.
HBR has an interesting take: “Seismic shifts in both technology and consumer behaviour during the past decade have produced a granular, virtually infinite record of every action consumers take online. Add to that the oceans of data from DVRs and digital set-top boxes, retail checkout, credit card transactions, call centre logs, and myriad other sources, and you find that marketers now have access to a previously unimaginable trove of information about what consumers see and do”
In many ways, the new Internet based companies are changing the way “data” is perceived by mainstream marketers. It’s suddenly sexy to talk data, even if you are an advertising agency. Google built its $38 billion business selling ads based on data about how people search and browse the Web. Facebook uses what it knows about its one billion users to sell targeted ads. And there may be no better data than the information in Amazon’s 152 million customer accounts. Since last year, the world’s largest online retailer has been packaging information on what it knows about consumers so that marketers can use it to improve their marketing decisions. And of course Twitter is also actively trying to ally with advertising so that mass advertisers see it as complementary to TV!!
All of this is creating a new data based paradigm amongst marketers of all hues! Here are a few examples of a large “data shift”:
- How the world experiences TV has fundamentally changed. We no longer watch TV as a silent participant, rather as an active voice.Watching TV with a laptop, smart phone, or tablet in hand is becoming more visible in many households. At one level this is impacting viewership of TV & at the same time this is great news for advertisers and programmers looking to engage viewers. Last year, 32 million people in the U.S. tweeted about TV programming: big events, like the Super Bowl (24 million Tweets) or their favorite weekly series, like American Idol (5.8 million Tweets during 2012). People tweet so much about TV that Twitter is becoming a fundamental part of how TV is measured. Twitter has seen this shift & recently announced the availability of TV ad targeting on Twitter. TV ad targeting works by using video fingerprinting technology to automatically detect when and where a brand’s commercials are running on TV, without requiring that advertiser to do any manual tracking or upload media plan details.
2. Even as Twitter has grown into a media and marketing giant, not everyone is persuaded that the social media site is useful for selling things. The perception is that Twitter is useful for “top of the funnel” marketing — building brand awareness and so on — but that it has yet to deliver paying customers in the way that GoogleAdwords can. Now Twitter has responded with a new ad product. The product, called a “Lead Generation Card,” lets marketers post expanded tweets that invite users to sign up for stuff right inside Twitter:
3.The head of the research lab at the New York Times says the newspaper has launched an advertising product called Sparking Stories that allows advertisers to insert ads into specific content that is trending on Twitter.
The new “Sparking Stories” advertising product gives advertisers the ability to place their ads inside those specific stories. Said Zimbalist:
“We developed this tool that lets us see what stories are trending, so now we’ve created an API that lets our ad server talk to this tool, and we’ve created an ad product called Sparking Stories, where an advertiser can come in and buy a package of stories that are trending right now on Twitter, irrespective of section or context or topic — just the stories that are really breaking through right now on social media.”
Imagine what kind of consumer data is being produced as marketers ramp up advertising as described above. How marketers bring all this data together into an intelligent “Digital exchange” & how they do the analytics on it is going to be a large competitive advantage for companies. This is also going to keep getting Marketing & IT together into the same game!
Commercial TV took 13 years to reach 50 million households; it took Facebook just a year to hit the 50 million user mark. It took Twitter 9 months to touch 50 million users. More than a billion people now log into Facebook everyday. To date, only two national states have breached this barrier: China and India
The number of worldwide email accounts is projected to increase from over 2.9 billion in 2010, to over 3.8 billion by 2014. However, Social Networking currently represents the fastest growing communication technology among both consumers and business users which are projected to grow to over 3.6 billion accounts by 2014.
And yet Email marketing is far from dead!!
One of the reasons Email marketing is not going away too soon, is just that it is more profitable! According to a 2011 study by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), e-mail marketing yields a return of $40.56 per dollar spent, compared with $22.24 for search, $12.71 for social networking and $10.51 for mobile. In fact, the DMA’s 2016 estimate pegs e-mail marketing’s ROI at $35.02 per dollar compared with social’s $13.43. (Source: article written by Vineet Manghani,Cognizant)
Unveiling the full potential of Social requires an “integrative” mindset. It demands marketers to think in a very 1 to 1 way across both mass & personalised media. And this requires marketing to create a “Campaign backbone” that leverages the rich data that consumers are producing as they wade through their “social life”.
Over the last few years,the Facebooks, Googles and Amazons of the world have leveraged “Big data” to create such a “campaign backbone” . This allows these companies to improve their decision-making based on the infrastructure technology and analytics-related software they have been developing & talk to consumers in a far more “real time” fashion.
Every year organizations collect more and more data on customer “touch points”. Technology advances are allowing for the storage and analysis of data that just 5 years ago wouldn’t have been possible
Companies need to look at Social & traditional email as a part of a “more integrated” data based Marketing strategy.
So how does this impact the good “old email” as a campaign?
In his book Permission Marketing, Seth Godin referred to email marketing as “the most personal advertising medium in history". That was 1999. Maybe we need to listen to that message to reinvent Email marketing.
In my view, that re invention is about how data can form a central part of how marketing campaigns are designed. And in that transformation how emails strategies can leverage a plethora of data-the humble “customer check ins” for something like Four Square being an example!
Social media check-ins provides marketers an unprecedented view into the lives of their customers and prospects. Knowing location, and understanding actual behaviours, creates opportunities to captivate an audience with greater relevance during moments when they are most receptive.
Here are a few examples of how Social instead of killing emails makes them a far more powerful medium:
- Use check-ins as triggers
Right timing a message always gets you far better response. The intent and the timing are clearly signalled by the check in. Check-ins also create opportunities to communicate with customers when they’re not in your store, but nearby, which is a great time to send a special offer.
- Improve segmentation with behavioural data
Check-ins is a window into your customers’ lives, enabling a deeper understanding of where they go and what they do. By analysing check-in data you can categorise & segment customers based on who shops at department stores & who is a high end fashion consumer.. But this requires marketers to create a “big data” environment which can process & analyse this data at speed
- Extend the definition of check-in
Typically, check-ins are an explicit act of using a location-based application to identify where you are. The term "soft check-in," which is an "implied" check-in from social media such as Twitter and Facebook, is now emerging.
For example, if someone tweets they just finished eating a "Mc Burger", it’s a pretty good assumption they are dining at the fast food chain. And, of course, there are the more obvious Facebook or Twitter posts such as "Standing in line to see Sky Fall", the popular James Bond movie !
Using a natural language filtering algorithm that extracts presence extends the number of check-ins marketers can exploit to engage with people and acquire customer information.
So to summarize:
- Mastering this new animal (Social) requires a different breed of people and process due to its real-time nature. Marketers need to marry real-time interactions with traditional marketing campaigns & analytics. Silos need to be broken so that marketers don’t think Brand, digital & campaign differently but rather run a “strategic thread” & integrate the customer engagement.
- Email needs to leverage customer intelligence & drive highly relevant communications to customers. Big data allows you to do that at scale & speed.
- Email needs to be integrated with Social & a larger brand strategy to maximise impact
Can a company Market so effectively, that customers actually perceive it as a service..."Marketing as a Service"? Today when consumers get innundated with so many junk messages, wouldn't this be way too aspirational!
Consumers are leaving their "data" behind as footprints for companies to unravel not at "leisure" but in "real time". When I buy a high value item at a jeweler using my credit card & my bank calls me,just to check if it is really me !! That's an example of data equity driving brand equity at that point in time! There are many more opportunities like these for myriad set of businesses! And this intersection of the "correct data insight" with "marketing action" transforms marketing into a service! Analytics captures this but at a later time, so the challenge is to respond to the customer at the "time" which they are "ready" to "recieve" your mesage! Banks & Telecom companies are so well positioned to do this!
Can Marketers read that data so effectively that they reach out to customers just when they are ready! And isn't that a service!! But to do this effectively you need the coming together of IT, Marketing & Customer service!
I spoke at an INSEAD forum a while back & shared some thoughts on this. You can download the presentation at the link below
Life has interesting turns-singles find partners, have children, then children go off to college & parents become empty nesters & finally look forward to retirement.
Getting insight into where people are now in their lives enables a good prediction of where they are headed, and their journey ahead drives their financial behaviour, investment interests and spending propensity.
Consumers are constantly leaving behind trails of information about their life stage with the marketer-either in transactional databases or in social media. Marketers are also engaging with their customers where they are picking up information-through call centres, through channel promotions!
Here are a few interesting Life stage events:
- Nalin calls up his DTH provider to ask for his set top box to be shifted to a new location-that‘s a change in address & leads to a life stage change. New home movers tend to be more likely to take personal loans & a host of other products & services.
- Suruchi gets married & needs to change her name on both her PAN card & on her bank account. This is a significant life stage change & will drive changes in her household-how she spends & how she saves.
I saw an interesting article in the Mint that gave me ideas on how to leverage data better for Life stage marketing. Have a look at this article:
I read an interesting article on how data which is coverted into information affects behaviour. Most often, all data analyzed and presented as information to users or even to customers may not necessarily have the desired impact to affect behaviour.
Here are some interesting perspectives and points that we need to think to help present data in a manner that can seriously help people change behaviour:
- Intuit/Mint are great examples of customers having their financial data(online) of where they spend their monies and how they invest & save. By uploading this data, do people change their behaviour to either spend less or save more? - Mint definitely believes so. According to Mint, they started as analysis tool but slowly progressed into providing insights to customers on their current behaviour and promoting actions that affect behaviour!
- The question really is if data can help change behaviour, how do we present this data so that it really has a telling impact on the customers/users who are using it?
The idea data according to this article that can help this is:
a. Passive data ( The user has nothing to do with this data)
d. Focussed ( Like a dashboard with key metrics)
e. Linked in real-time to the desired effect
f. Simple to gain insight and understand
g.Linked to private and personal benefits ( Weight loss/gain)
h. Linked to public benefits ( Reduces carbon footprint)
i Quirky positive feedback
j. Non-threatening negative feedback
k. Socially connected to take advantage of human nature
This led me to think how we present various data to our stakeholders across businesses and user departments today. We still have a long way to go especially given the fact that discovery of insights after mining the data, needs to be presented well for it to change behaviour across an organization. Also, if we want customers to either buy from us more or recommend alternative products or services, it needs to be done a lot more intuitively by presenting the facts & insights well to get them to consider our recommendation.
Recently a client asked me an interesting question: How would you start analytics in an organization? The question was interesting from many perspectives:
1. What exactly is analytics and does the name describe the function?
2. How should one go about starting doing the work that analysts are supposed to do?
3. Where should the Analytics team report-is it part of a marketing team or somewhere else?
4. What kind of issues should analytics try and solve?
5. How much money needs to be invested to really make Analytics work?
My experience across both Retail & Retail banking has been that it is best to start small, very small! A lot of analytics can be done on an excel sheet and does not require a PhD in statistics to do. The simpler the analysis the “lesser” is the barrier in implementing the call for action that emanates from it. So my first suggestion to anyone starting out this kind of work is to follow the well know “KISS principle”(Keep it simple stupid). The most important next step from here is to choose the business area where you want to make an impact. I would go for the counter intuitive bit here and try to make your analysis work for a business unit that is not doing so well. Businesses doing very well, have a lot of competing ideas clamouring for a share of the credit. It’s in the businesses that need help, that you will find maximum support.
And finally I would say that choose business themes that are close to the CFO’s heart! The CFO’s support for analytics is probably the most critical part of what you would do-this forms the building blocks on which you can scale up your efforts in the years to come! I have often come across situations where organization seem to believe that investing in top end statistical resources and buying high end technology is enough to extract value from analytics. The truth is vastly different and I strongly believe that embedding simple ideas and focussing far more on execution is critical for an organization to succeed in analytics based strategy.
Here is a very interesting article that talks about how organization structure is the key ingredient that allows success in large CRM program implementations. Read this Mc Kinsey article here: Turbocharging Marketing
Stronger customer relationships have grown increasingly vital to companies vying for competitive advantage in today’s complex, multi-channel marketplace. Many proactive players, acknowledging the need for greater focus on strengthening customer relationships, have invested millions of dollars in the databases and technology required to support a customer-centric approach. In spite of their efforts, many have failed to elevate CRM performance to their targeted level. — McKinsey & Company, “Marketing Organization: The Key to Turbocharging Customer