customer analytics

5月 182013

Hello!  As a new contributor to this blog, I'd like to introduce myself.  My name is Dwight Mouton and yes that's a French last name.  I'm orginally from the heart of Cajun country, Lafayette, Lousiana.  I've been in marketing related roles since I earned my bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana.   Since 1995 my focus has been marketing analytics and the software that marketers use to make their jobs easier and more enriching.  When I'm not at work I enjoy spending time with my family of 5 as well as getting together with friends to cycle, going on long solo runs and being a general DIYer around the house.

For my first post I decided to focus on a more general topic based on a panel discussion with CMO's that I attended recently.

While there was a large variance in the discussion topics from eliminating "paid search" from marketing budgets to CMOs and CIOs being BFFs, three main recommendations for marketers came through:

  1. Measure all the way through the marketing - sales cycle
  2. Match the content to the product, channel and the customer
  3. Mobile should be a part of everyday marketing, not a separate "mobile strategy"

The following is a summary of the panelists' discussion on these topics along with my own thoughts and research notes.

  1. Marketing - Sales Cycle
    Marketers should try always to capture sales information at every touch point during the sales process so that they can measure and forecast success. If a marketer measures all of the data and stores it, then they can use it to forecast the results at every stage of the cycle for future campaigns. Often marketers only know the basics such as click-through on an email and what was eventually purchased, but what about all the other steps in the sales cycle? If analysts are not tracking the customer at each stage they don't know that, for example, after the click-through they navigated to different parts of the website before buying, or that they left the site and then came back later to make a purchase, possibly through a different channel. Being able to use this information to forecast results for future campaigns helps to set expectations and allocate resources.
  2. Match the content to the customer
    Mail is dead, and email is over-used, right? Well, that would depend on what a marketer is selling, the audience they are targeting and the channel they are going through. One example the panel presented related to the use of direct mail for highly targeted B2B campaigns. So much marketing communication has gone to email that a really good direct mail piece will have almost no competition when it appears on a target's physical desk. Because the message is so targeted, a marketer can spend more to make the mail piece highly impactful. This is also relevant in digital, where it is even easier to vary a message. Marketing analysts should use the data captured to create communications that fit the audience based on their segment and the offer. Campaigns that make use of Social Media apply as well. Multi-channel campaigns do not mean that the same message has to go out to all channels. The message and offers should be tailored for the customer in the channel that has the highest likelihood of success.
  3. Mobile Strategy:
    CMO's and marketing directors are often asked "what is your mobile strategy".  We are now at a point where mobile should just be seen as another channel where content, messaging, segmentation, and format should match it.  Customers check email via a mobile device more than any other method and if it contains a link that drives to a website it should display a mobile friendly version.  The content should also be optimized for the mobile device, not just a shrunken version of the web site.  This also affects more than just promotional material.  Customers are opening order confirmations, weekly newsletters and legal notifications via the mobile device that typically have links to the corporate website.As you can see we covered a wide varety of topics but this last one is likely the wake up call to many marketers.  The chart below from Litmus shows how fast mobile has become the prominent means of opening email, from only a 10% share in Q1 2011 to 43% at the same time in 2013.
    Based on what that chart shows, it seems that prioritizing how you create content for mobile devices should be a high priority for marketers looking to succeed in today's market.

These ideas were inspired by the discussion at a recent local American Marketing Association meeting. It was an annual CMO panel luncheon and this year the panelists were from Brooks Bell, The Redwoods Group, Café Press, Quintiles and Bronto Software.

Let me know your thoughts on these topics and if you were at the luncheon, feel free to introduce more. Thank you for following, and stay tuned for more of my thoughts on other aspects of marketing.


tags: american marketing association, b2b, best practices, customer analytics, digital marketing
5月 102013

Shawn Skillman and Lori Jordan

A little over 2 years ago, I wrote a post about our vision for turning big data into a strategic asset.  The outcome of this vision was the development of a Global Marketing System that provides marketers with complete views of customer behavior and advanced marketing analytics so we can respond with relevancy in our campaigns.

At this year's SAS Global Forum, over 50 people filled a room to hear Shawn Skillman and Lori Jordan, two Senior Database Marketing Analysts on my team, talk about how that vision is now a reality.  Their paper and presentation specifically outlines how SAS uses SAS to analyze, segment, and target customers to invite to SAS Global Forum. Just one example of how all campaigns are now run in our marketing organization because of SAS Technology.

The post below was written by Lane Whatley, one of my counterparts in communications.  She attended their session and did a great job summarizing their presentation.


On the last day of SAS® Global Forum I had the pleasure of attending a paper presentation about how SAS Uses SAS® to invite and manage SAS Global Forum attendees. The fact that there were more than 4,200 conference goers this year is evidence enough that they have a winning strategy.

Having some familiarity with email marketing campaigns from a former job, I know a great deal of time and effort is spent scheduling campaigns and selecting criteria to make the perfect offer, but I had no idea the extent to which SAS uses SAS to help.

SAS uses SAS® Marketing Automation to define list criteria and create campaigns for SAS Global Forum. With more than three million users in their data mart, teams rely on the software to help narrow the invitee list and identify customers most likely to attend. For this year’s Global Forum, teams used criteria like:

  • Past SAS Global Forum and user group attendees.
  • Past Customer Connections, Analytics Conferences, and SAS Talks attendees.
  • Subscribers to select SAS technical reports.
  • SAS software users identified through calls to Technical Support.
  • Contacts identified by SAS® Customer Experience Analytics as having searched select and websites.

After a campaign has been sent, teams also use SAS® Enterprise Business Intelligence to run analytics on the resulting data: who opened the campaign, who clicked the campaign, who registered, who opted out, etc. They also use SAS® Visual Analytics to run reports like the one below that shows Global Forum registrants by geography.

SAS also uses SAS® DataFlux® Data Management Platform to integrate, standardize and match data. This platform provides the foundational layer for data quality and analytics, because campaigns are only as successful as the data behind them.

Another SAS Global Forum has come and gone, but for the database marketing team, only part of their Forum work is complete. They’ll run data quality checks and reports on attendees, and then use this information to inform next year’s Global Forum campaigns.


As marketing organizations evolve, so will technology.  We will continue to have more tools at our fingertips to answer increasingly sophisticated questions about our customers and prospects, but at the end of the day, its talented people who make the difference when using the tools.  Shawn and Lori are no exception - a winning combination for sure! Let us know what you think in a comment below and thank you for following.

tags: big data, customer analytics, customer experience analytics, customer intelligence, customer segmentation, data visualization, database marketing, marketing analytics, marketing optimization, sas global forum, visual analytics, web analytics
5月 062013

Mobile customers have the potential to change our business in profound ways. Advanced mobile communications is coming of age at a time when other technologies and societal shifts are working in parallel to radically transform whole industries. Some of these shifts have shown up in the marketing realm in the form of social media,  customer experience, customer analytics , real-time decisioning, and the pivotal roles of search marketing and content marketing. Those same developments have fostered the rise of the "empowered customer," and one of the biggest drivers of that empowerment comes from mobile communications with the smartphone.

Because of the capabilities of the technologies behind it, today's mobile communications go beyond satisfying the basic need for people to engage simply with one another, such as greeting or calling for help. Examples of simple long-distance communications are as "old as the hills," as evidenced by yodeling, smoke signals and "hollering." While those activities continue to this day in some parts of the world, more often we think of cell phones or smartphones when we consider mobile communications. And far beyond yodeling or smoke signals, today's mobile devices enable us to share ideas, capture images and recordings, transact business, gather information, and gain insights as we've never done before.

In the retail industry, we've seen phenomena driven by mobile phones such as "showrooming," where customers might go into the physical store location to see and perhaps try the item, and then end up making the purchase on line - possibly with a competitor, or even while they are still in the physical store. The biggest impact, however, is actually happening in the minds of our customers, where they've become so accustomed to having near real-time access to answers, ideas and other people to connect with. We've now seen that some people seem unable to have a momentous experience without including their smartphone in some way. And that is precisely the trend that marketers should be paying attention to.

Josh Bernoff, of Forrester Research, shared his findings in this area at the recent Forrester's Marketing Leadership Forum, where he provided all attendees with a copy of his research report, "The Mobile Mind Shift Index," in which he outlined his three major take-aways as:

  1. The true impact of mobile is the change in attitudes it creates.
    This is happening at the individual level and can be seen by observing the behaviors of almost anyone that uses a smartphone.
  2. The mobile mind shift index (MMSI) measures how many of your customers have shifted.
    In this case, the Forrester team identified three drivers of engagement with mobile applications: device ownership, frequency of access and diversity of locations. Based on those factors, they numerically calculated the relationships among these factors and then laid out six categories to capture the degree of mind shift.
    • The "disconnecteds, dabblers and roamers" are the least engaged and comprise 78% of the U.S. population today.
    • The three most engaged segments are the "adapters, immersers and perpetuals," and while they make up just 22% of the total population, these are the most affluent and influential of all customer segments. These are the individuals that have "shifted."
  3. Your customers' MMSI determines how quickly you must act to offer mobile experiences.
    The key is to figure out where and how the 22% most-engaged people are engaged with your organization. If you focus on the "shifted" people and understand their engagement with your brand, that tells you how quickly you should shift your marketing to accommodate them. Ultimately, they key is to shorten the distance between what people want and getting it to them. 

Attendees of that conference also were treated to the companion report by Melissa Parrish, aptly named "Marketing Strategy for the Mobile Mind Shift, offering more details on the "MMSI" and what you can do about it. Stay tuned for more details coming up on mobile customers and mobile marketing. In the meantime, let me know what you think - how have your customers shifted and how have you shifted your marketing to meet them?  As always, thank you for following!

tags: content marketing, customer analytics, customer experience analytics, forrester, Mobile Marketing, real-time decisioning, search marketing, social media
3月 072013

In the first post in this series, we discussed how there are a number of terms that describe how organizations manage their customer engagements: customer intelligence, customer analytics, integrated marketing management and marketing analytics. My goal with this series of posts was to clarify the definitions among the terms, delineate what comprises each term and highligh which solution sets apply.

Today, let's focus on our fourth and final term: Marketing Analytics.

Marketing analytics comprises the processes and technologies that enable marketers to evaluate the success of their marketing initiatives by measuring their performance using important business metrics, such as ROI, marketing attribution and overall marketing effectiveness – not just marketing channel effectiveness.

I think of marketing analytics as being like a fine wine – good marketing analytics programs are strong and sound, full bodied, and have a flavor for the data that is coveted by other departments in the organization. Many companies today simply can not join all marketing channel data in a common view and then analyze that data for needed insight. There are many reasons for this – culture, technical barriers, lack of information, etc. – but that discussion is for another post!

Without the ability to achieve that common view, marketers make decisions based on data from individual channels (website metrics, for example), and therefore not taking into account the entire marketing picture. Social media data alone is not enough. Web analytics data alone is not enough. And tools that look at just a snapshot in time for a single channel are woefully inadequate. By contrast, marketing analytics gathers data from across all marketing channels and consolidates it into a common marketing view. From this common view, you can extract analytical results that can provide invaluable assistance in driving your marketing efforts forward. Marketing analytics enables you to answer such questions as:

  • How did email campaign A perform against direct mail campaign B?
  • How many leads did I generate from blog post C versus social media campaign D?
  • Which had the biggest impact from a marketing attribution point of view – A, B, C or D?

Applied holistically, marketing analytics allows for better lead nurturing and management, which leads to more revenue and greater profitability. By more effectively managing leads and being able to tie those leads to sales – which is known as closed-loop marketing analytics – you can see which specific marketing initiatives are contributing to your bottom line.

Knowing the need for marketers to manage such a broad spectrum, SAS has created a complete suite of marketing analytics capabilities, including solutions such as:

  • Marketing Mix Analysis – Predict the business value of investments, such as advertising, incentives and the Web.
  • Marketing Performance Management – Align activities and resources to strategies and goals, link marketing performance to financial measures and establish accountability throughout the marketing department.
  • Marketing Operations – Plan, manage and execute enterprise marketing operations efficiently and effectively.
  • Intelligent Advertising – Gather and present data to enable precision forecasting, decision optimization, inventory management and sales performance reporting.
  • Adaptive Customer Experience – Develop more relevant, personalized communications to achieve better marketing performance.

With an integrated marketing analytics stack, organizations are able to derive value from marketing initiatives. Here are a couple examples that use marketing analytics from SAS:

  • Photobucket increases profitability by better understanding marketing and sales channels.
  • Fratelli Carli manages marketing and sales operations data with integrated marketing analytics.
  • Quarter Media manages online advertising while derives insight from marketing analytics.

So now we have covered them these terms! Hopefully this series of blog posts has helped you further differentiate between these commonly used terms. I know it has helped me as I continue to explore how SAS can best help organizations tackle their customer intelligence, customer analytics, integrated marketing management, and marketing analytics initiatives.

Please comment and share your thoughts and as always, thanks for reading along!

tags: customer analytics, customer intelligence, marketing analytics, what's in a name
3月 072013

In two previous posts, we have investigated the terms customer intelligence and customer analytics in more detail. We continue on our journey today by defining our third of four terms – that of integrated marketing management (IMM). Each of these four terms are different and distinct, so let’s jump right into our third term: Integrated Marketing Management.

Integrated Marketing Management refers to the end-to-end marketing process, from marketing strategy to implementation and customer experience measurement. Once that customer experience is measured, results are returned to the marketing department – thus completing the “closed loop marketing process.” The IMM process is initiated and driven by the marketing department.

Integrated Marketing Management supports the closed loop marketing process by integrating operational, executional, and analytical marketing processes. That view of marketing aligns underlies the vision behind the SAS suite of marketing software solutions, which addresses the operational (SAS Marketing Operations Management), executional (SAS Marketing Automation among others), and analytical (SAS Social Media Analytics, adaptive customer experience, etc.) needs of the enterprise marketing function.

The SAS view of Integrated Marketing Management has four main components. I liken these categories to the four wheels on a car. All are equally important, are part of a greater good, and must all be present for the vehicle known as IMM to function properly. Accordingly, we use these four product categories to present our suite of products on our external web site:

  1. Strategy and planning  These tools include ways for you to manage workflow and resource allocation, your marketing mix and specialized message delivery platforms.
  2. Information and analytics These tools enable you to derive insight from your organizational data and form the foundation for some of your more sophisticated analytical techniques.
  3. Orchestration and Interaction These campaign execution and optimization tools provide the means to manage your interactions with customers across multiple channels, achieve real-time relevance and find the best actions to take.
  4. Customer Experience These solutions help you monitor and measure customer value and provide your customers the best possible experience.

Integrated Marketing Management is a term that resonates heavily with marketing strategists and classic technology marketers – as they see the importance of all four of these categories and know that (like a car) in order to have a truly functioning integrated marketing platform, you must have all four wheels in place and operational on the car.

There are some impediments to performing true IMM, which is not surprising considering how achieving it may entail centralizing marketing management, control, coordination, and communication. Integrating multiple marketing-centric processes often requires reworking culture, processes, and technology, but is well worth the effort considering the potential impacts of doing it. Vivid examples of how it pays off include:

  • Loyalty New Zealand is driving loyalty using campaign management and optimization solutions as well as data management and customer analytic technologies from SAS.
  • A large dutch retail bank is overhauling its current marketing processes to become more customer and online centric by implementing strategy and planning solutions, orchestration and interaction solutions, and customer experience solutions from SAS.
  • A major American insurer and a long time SAS customer is using SAS strategy and planning, information and analytics, orchestration and interaction, and customer experience solutions to complete and market in a more real time fashion.
  • A United Kingdom Telecom joint venture has built a highly scalable marketing analytics and service platform to analyze and serve 65 million customers using SAS solutions – including SAS Orchestration and Interaction solutions, SAS Text Miner, SAS Sentiment Analysis, and SAS Visual Analytics.

Up next, I will present my final post in this series about the marketing analytics term! In the meantime, please comment with your experiences around integrated marketing management! Thank you for following!

tags: customer analytics, customer intelligence, marketing analytics, what's in a name
3月 062013

In the first post in this series, I introduced the collection of terms that describe how organizations manage their customer engagements: customer intelligence, customer analytics, integrated marketing management and marketing analytics. It's important to define them, as well as understand what comprises each term and which SAS solutions apply. It's also important to know the reasons that these terms (or processes) are different and distinct. We previously highlighted the term Customer Intelligence and detailed out its place in the market.

Today, let's focus on our second term: Customer Analytics.

The term Customer Analytics refers to the processes and technologies that give organizations the customer insight necessary to deliver offers that are anticipated, relevant and timely. It is the practice of analyzing customer data in order to find underlying patterns, behaviors, or insights. As the backbone for all organization-to-customer activities, customer analytics comprises techniques such as predictive modeling, data visualization, information management and segmentation.  They make up the building blocks to the comprehensive customer intelligence solutions, and in the house construct analogy of the previous post, customer analytics would be found in the foundation.

Customer Analytics takes the second spot on our visual because it is narrower and more analytically focused than customer intelligence initiatives. It might be helpful to think of customer analytics as akin to the process of baking a cake. The end result of customer analytics programs would be the finished cake, while the technologies are the ingredients that make up the cake!

These processes refer to the end goals (or finished cake) of customer analytics programs:

  • Improve my data quality process.
  • Strengthen my segmentation process from the macro to micro level.
  • Manage my modelling process more efficiently in order to avoid rework.
  • Clarify my sentiment analysis and influence scoring processes.
  • Create a more robust customer profile

These technologies refer to the individual components (or ingredients) needed to accomplish customer analytics programs:

While Customer Analytics are not the slick and sexy marketing solutions that sit on top of your data warehouse, they are usually the trusty implements that get the job done for specific, defined customer data problems. Using the cake baking analogy, customer analytics are the spatulas, non-stick pans and well-worn measuring cups that get the job done when you're faced with a specific problem to solve. In the world of business software, customer analytics are not as broad as customer intelligence, but are not limited to marketing activites and therefore are not as narrowly defined as marketing analytics.

SAS Customer Analytics are a mainstay for many of our customers, solving some thorny customer data issues that you may be also be faced with:

  • Verizon unleashes the power of customer analytics to transform relationships and generate growth.
  • HP harnesses big data and turns 2.5 billion transactions into intimacy using customer analytics.
  • Grameenphone reduces churn via customer analytics in order to grow revenue.
  • Gilt Groupe uses customer analytics to pioneer a new way to shop for high-end luxury goods

Stay with me, as the next post will dive into the integrated marketing management term! In the meantime, please comment with your thoughts! Thank you for following!

tags: customer analytics, customer intelligence, marketing analytics, what's in a name
1月 152013

I'm always looking for ways to make my job sound more relevant to people who ask me, "so what does SAS do?" SAS does so much that I can't possibly list it all, so I need some umbrella terms that can capture the essence of it (and still keep the attention of the listener who thought this was just making polite conversation).

"Explaining SAS" is less of an issue than it once was, because SAS-the-company has become pretty famous as a great place to work. So while I don't have to explain who SAS is, I still often have to talk about what SAS does and why it should matter to you.

I was recently part of a delegation who took the message to some local 7th graders, as we went into the classroom and "taught" STEM-related course material for a day. For my part, I taught a lesson about how data integration is critical for law enforcement. We even had a hands-on activity where we "solved" a crime using data matching techniques (and good police work, of course).

But the lesson that really captured the imagination of these kids had to do with NBA basketball. The students learned not only about the role of analytics in improving player and team performance, but also how Customer Analytics are used to improve the experience of fans. They heard the story of how the Orlando Magic uses the science of numbers to make games even more fun for attendees (and more profitable for the team).

Customer Analytics is one of those useful umbrella terms that I can now use to talk about what SAS does. For example, I can tell my parents (who love Las Vegas) the role that SAS plays in the loyalty programs they use. And it's how banks and insurance companies work to get more customers, and offer more services to the customers they already have.

During this International Year of Statistics, it's great to remember our statistical roots. But analytics is how we use statistics, combined with business and industry knowledge, to make a difference.

tags: customer analytics, IYOS, statistics2013, stem
12月 282012

A colossal man-made storm known as “the fiscal cliff” looms on the horizon of the United States economy.  Much attention has been paid to the political wrangling behind this situation in Washington, while Congress seems oblivious to unanimity among economists that large-scale abrupt austerity measures like this “fiscal cliff” generate more harm than good. And most troubling is that while all parties agree that it should be avoided, no deal is likely before the end of the year, so the fiscal cliff is looking mighty inevitable.

For a good non-partisan explanation of the fiscal cliff and its consequences, it’s worth reading this post to the Washington Post Business Blog  called The Fiscal Cliff: Absolutely Everything You Could Possibly Need to Know, in One FAQ.  In that post, it describes the “fiscal cliff” as an “inapt metaphor for the looming consequences of some very bad congressional decisions,” further clarifying it as

much too much austerity, much too quickly.”

At its simplest, the fiscal cliff is a combination of taxes, government spending cuts and a debt ceiling aimed at reducing the federal government deficit. It's universally accepted that it will have negative results for individuals and businesses alike. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects it will weaken the economic recovery and possibly plunge the United States economy back into recession – retracting in 2013 by 0.5% versus the current projection of +2.4%, and spike the unemployment rate to 9.1% from the current 7.9% rate. Private sector analysts also consistently predict gloomy outcomes from the fiscal cliff, and it’s generally recognized that it will affect some industries more than others, but all of them negatively.

The uncertainty generated by this situation has been reported by CNBC as already having put the damper on the economy by suppressing stock prices and making companies unwilling to make the kinds of investments that drive employment growth. Since growth for most organizations is driven by some combination of consumer or government spending, I believe the fiscal cliff highlights the role that marketing can play for each organization to counteract its negative effects in some important ways. Here are some of the ways marketers can make it happen: 

Find your true north
Weather vane in Georgetown, Washington, DC.In the field of navigation, “True North” references the need to calibrate magnetic compasses based on the ever-shifting magnetic anomalies of the earth – without doing that, navigation is inaccurate. The same holds true for business – you need a clear point of reference to set direction amid great uncertainty.

One simple place to start is with a cue from brand management - validate how your organization’s mission statement fits with your customers’ experience. Are you in business to solve world hunger? If so, is that clear from the experience that individuals and organizations have while engaging with you? If not, it might be time for a closer look and some important changes. Taking such a brand management approach should span all areas of the enterprise that engage with the customer, with marketing as hub of the customer relationship.

I'd like to suggest one resource for "finding your true north" in this way - an e-magazine produced by the ANA for SAS, called Standing Out – Rethinking Brand Differentiation for Competitive Advantage.

Complete your 360° view
Once you’ve established your true north, complete the picture so you have a 360° view. Just as your true north should be centered on the customer, your view of the customer should be as complete as possible. An important way to accomplish that is by combining online, offline and social data about your customer that result in richer profiles and more meaningful segmentation that heightens the relevance of your customer engagements.

There is a great story about how national clothing retailer Chico's did just that in the white paper, Ten Ways to a Customer-Centric Data-Driven Business Strategy. You can read how they tripled their win-back rate of lapsed customers and achieved other amazing results with a total, multichannel view of each customer.

Chart your course wisely
As your organization becomes more adept at marketing analytics, it will become clear that some combinations of plans and actions yield better results than others. The keys are hidden in your customer data and can provide answers to two critical questions:

  • Given the current objectives and corresponding constraints, how can we maximize the overall contribution of our marketing program to organizational growth and profitability?
  • If we increase the marketing budget, what would the payback be?

The answers are found with marketing optimization, which applies marketing analytics to consider multiple possible scenarios and choose the one that delivers the best result – lowest cost, highest revenue, or however you define "result." I recommend this short, on-demand webinar produced by the DMA that outlines marketing optimization and provides some great case studies: Improve ROI with Marketing Optimization

Don't Delay
One of the best examples of how marketing can make a big difference in the middle of a recession is the story of telecom giant Verizon. In the middle of the 2009 recession and while facing stiff competition and sweeping technology changes, Verizon boosted the revenue lift of their campaigns by 25% and improved their campaign close rates (sales) by 250%. They achieved these results in less than 3 months with applied marketing analytics and a 360° view of their customers.

As we face the fiscal cliff, these are all changes that can make a difference in how your organization weathers the storm. Embrace marketing analytics and the improvements can have a big impact across your organization. Let me close with a final suggestion - take a look at this article on MarketingProfs:  Six Tips for Creating an Analytics-Driven Marketing Culture. The article was submitted by our VP of Marketing, Adele Sweetwood, and she provides the six practical tips from how SAS has implemented a marketing analytics culture. 

In any situation, it's important to know all the variables that are within your control, and all of these suggestions are within reach and are proven approaches. Let us know if you're ready to get started. Until then, I welcome any and all comments and I always appreciate your sharing my posts with others or simply following this blog.

tags: analytics, customer analytics, customer segmentation, driving profitable growth, marketing optimization, relevance
11月 222012

As previously mentioned, I attended this year's DMA Annual Conference as a sponsor and found many ways that it was a wonderful experience as both a sponsor and an attendee. That said, there actually was one part of my DMA experience that gave me pause enough to want to share it and get your reactions. It's the mail avalanche.

The picture above shows all the direct mail pieces I received before the show (45) and after the show (8) that had some sort of call to action, usually "stop by our booth." It was clearly a waste for the 8 unfortunate companies whose mailers arrived at my mailbox after the show. But it's the 45 mailers that I received before the show that have me wondering, too.

Don't get me wrong - I have nothing against mailers. I used to own a direct mail agency after all, but it's the fact that 53 of these companies felt compelled to reach out to me with a message and so few of them were relevant to me. One of these was actually a book about radio advertising - in the picture above it's 4th from the left along the bottom with the cover letter under it.

I wish all show organizers let the attendees provide enough detail about their interests so they could facilitate (require?) that any pre-show touches be only to the people who self-identify as interested in your topic. Could they have attendees build a personalized agenda by selecting sessions to attend, and from that data they infer the topics of interest that can help the sponsors and exhibitors target more meaningfully? Whatever the case, there has to be a better way than the mail avalanche that's largely wasted.

Take that example to a broader level, and it illustrates how wasteful bad targeting can be. It's not only wasteful, but irritating to your customers, so it costs you dearly in lost revenue. When your business gets any more complicated than a mom-and-pop shop, that's when customer analytics can improve your marketing - better targeting, more relevance, less reliance on the avalanche or "spray and pray" to get the kind of sales volume you need. The answers are in your data.

On a separate but related note that I'm including because it's funny, one other example of "just because you can doesn't mean you should" came in the form of a roadside banner outside a rug store on the way to the beach in South Carolina. In this case, it involved a rhyme that may have seemed catchy to the store owner, but nothing about it made me want to stop and browse. My daughter took the picture below once she and her friends stopped laughing about it (they laughed a long time).


Please share your thoughts about the tradeshow mail avalanche, and the unfortunate rug-store rhyme. Share any other examples of "just because you can it doesn't mean you should." I'm sure the list is quite long...

tags: customer analytics, customer segmentation, relevance
11月 102012

Understanding the customer is more and more complex with each passing every day, especially due to the ever-increasing amoung of customer data - generating what is commonly known as "Big Data." Adding to the complexity is all the unstructured data from social media, which happens to be highly relevant to understanding the customer.  So in this environment, it is increasingly difficult for organizations to reliably make faster decisions in predicting customer retention, attrition, and return rates. 

How do we make sense and sort out this rapidly changing and increasing complex customer dynamic? How do we determine the best marketing offer to make using fact-based decision making rather than making decisions by intuition or gut feel using little or no data to back up our decisions?  What technologies need to be pursued to maximize gaining the most customer insight in the social age?

I found some great answers to those questions in a best practices report from TDWI exploring this very subject in great detail. TDWI examined organizations’ current practices and future plans for customer analytics technology implementations, with a special focus on how organizations are adapting to both the data opportunities and challenges of social media networks.

From the many strategies laid out in the report, two strategies stood out above the rest for me:

  1. Use social media analytics to support an active, not passive, social media strategy.

    Gone are the days when organizatons could be passive with social media by just listening and analyzing social data at a basic level. Social media has matured to the point that it's no longer enough to simply measure success by the number of "likes," and instead marketers need to see all the ways the customer interacts with the organization as opportunities for positive engagement, as well as opportunities for new insights.A key source of insights is Social media analytics, used by leading organizations today to derive richer customer insights, therefore enabling their strategy development to be forward-looking in ways that are more relevant and more satisfying for the customer.
  2. Evaluate and implement specialized analytic database technologies for customer analytics. 

The speed and depth for analyzing big data information using customer analytics is enabled by technologies such as columnar databases and Hadoop/MapReduce. In a big data environment, the biggest challenge can be simply filtering out the noise, and sometimes all the trends, patterns, and other insights are lost due to aggregation and filtering of the data. 

The need to analyze raw, detailed data is a major driver behind the implementation of Hadoop.  Hadoop puts all kinds of data (structured, unstructured and semi-structured) together in its pure form, rather than in a more structured data warehouse environment. This allows organizations to gain an integrated view of complex customer behavioral data that is usually separated into incompatible silos and makes it ready for customer analysis.  Hadoop is an attractive technology being inherently scalable that runs on commodity shared-nothing clusters that cost less than licensing systems from the big database companies.

The title of this report is Customer Analytics in the Age of Social Media. The report is pretty comprehensive in that it presents insights from an extensive research survey as well as interviews with users and industry specialists in customer analytics, social media analytics, marketing, and customer intelligence. I recommend it and encourage you to download it.

I welcome your thoughts and ideas by commenting below and thank you for following!

tags: customer analytics, social media, social media analytics