8月 182019

Have you ever thought of selling sand on the beach? Neither have I. To most people the mere idea is preposterous. But isn’t it how all great discoveries and inventions are made? Someone comes up with an outwardly crazy, outlandish idea, and despite all the skepticism, criticism, ostracism, ridicule and [...]

Selling sand at the beach was published on SAS Voices by Leonid Batkhan

4月 102018

SAS has never been able to sit idle and watch from the sidelines as crises ensue. Why? Because we know that good can be made possible if data is put to work. SAS Global Forum opening session spotlighted four real-life examples of how SAS is showing up and improving the [...]

What can be achieved when passion, curiosity and analytics come together? was published on SAS Voices by Anjelica Cummings

4月 092018

Bright lights, a packed house, loud music and high energy – these are the elements that come to life every year in the  SAS Global Forum opening session. But it’s not just about the entertainment and energy. Each year, the Sunday night opening session sets the stage for conference attendees. [...]

Ask the question, and watch new discoveries unfold was published on SAS Voices by Anjelica Cummings

1月 292018

Enochlophobia. It means “fear of crowds,” and I have it. I wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near Times Square on New Years’ Eve, and how did I ever endure the stadium-sized rock concerts of my youth?  I’m thinking all this as I navigate the sea of people at the National [...]

Who’s ready for AI? Notes from NRF was published on SAS Voices by Jill Dyché

6月 102015

How is it that some companies can come up with a big idea and implement that idea successfully in the market, while others never get past the idea phase? "In the case of innovation," says Jill Dyché, VP of SAS Best Practices, "big ideas aren't enough." It's also not enough […]

The post The pros and cons of innovation labs appeared first on SAS Voices.

11月 252014
For many industries, big data analytics have opened numerous doors for more employees to be groundbreaking and to challenge the corporate status quo. Prior to big data technologies, risk taking behaviors were primarily reserved for provocative souls who stretched organizational boundaries to disrupt industries, such as airline revenue management. There were winners and losers […]
11月 192014

The higher the revenue potential, the more interesting the idea.Back in 2007, the NY Times published an article about “The Google Way.” The premise behind the Google Way is to give engineers 20% of their time to spend on new company related ideas and projects that interest them. For a while this became the management strategy du jour as every large company attempted to inject a culture of spirit and creativity into their businesses (with very mixed results).

Even Google recognized that the strategy was flawed. Large initiatives generated from The Google Way projects begin to distract them from their core business.

Taking the reins as CEO in 2011, Larry Page announced a new focus with “more wood behind fewer arrows.” Google put guardrails on how innovation time is spent: “Urgency without alignment is wasted energy.

Marketing organizations have taken a page from the Google playbook. In my previous post, I noted the disparity in organizations with marketing innovation budgets (who has them, who doesn’t), and highlighted some examples of organizations putting their innovation dollars to good use. But how do we validate and prioritize those innovation ideas, align them to our marketing goals, and execute?

Lowe’s home improvement stores is getting ready to release a sales-robot to help their customers navigate their stores more easily. The robot is a brainchild of the company’s Innovation Lab, a technology company-within-a-company. The Innovation Lab uses a technique they call “science-fiction prototyping.” Team members include profession science fiction writers! Next item in their innovation funnel is a “holoroom” that will allow customers to simulate renovation projects. Lowe’s is betting on a future where people interact with in-store and virtual technology in new ways.

This summer, Mondelez International, the maker of Oreo cookies, created a promotional campaign for their new mini-Oreo by sending one tiny cookie per household to people living in small US cities. The campaign backfired. As one newspaper columnist in Great Falls, Montana noted: It’s like [Oreo] said, “We’re sorry you have to live in the middle of nowhere – here, have a cookie.”

While this campaign caused a PR headache, it’s obviously not a catastrophic fail for the company. I’m sure people in small towns will continue to eat Oreos. Mondelez missed the mark on understanding their target audience. Innovation must be aligned with customer insight: The data has to support to the customer, not the organization. Kraft’s social learning lab – called The Looking Glass - helps the company understand “consumers at the speed of culture.” A team of people analyze digital consumer behavior (both internal and external) and use that information to inform product and marketing decisions.

As you’re starting or expanding your marketing innovation capabilities, data-driven decisioning will shape your innovation pipeline. By analyzing customer information, you can start to weed out the good ideas from the bad. After all, who just wants one cookie??

And as customer expectations for real-time interactions increase, your need for real-time decisioning will increase. Take a closer look at how well real-time decisioning can integrate into your overall marketing scheme. You'll know every time how many cookies are expected, and also which flavor and whether they want milk with it. Let me know what you think.

tags: best practices, innovation, real-time decisioning
11月 132014

The online dating website OKCupid recently posted the results of some real life experiments that they had performed on their user community. The experiments included three tests to evaluate the influence of certain user profile changes in compatibility matching (manipulating compatibility scores, suppressing user profile photos and the impact of rating scales and photos – the cool versus pretty test). All websites perform experiments, but at what risk?

OKCupid CEO Christian Rudder posted on the company’s blog: “If you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.” He goes on to say “OKCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Neither does any other website…Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”

Like OKCupid, more and more data-centric companies are using rapid experimentation approaches (also called test-and-learn) to better understand how consumers react to their products and services.
This not only influences product development cycles, but drives more effective marketing and contact strategies.

But we already test-and-learn!
– the marketers shout. Not nearly enough, if at all!

A recent survey by highlighted that more than 25% of online direct-to-consumer marketers aren’t doing any testing of their site or campaigns. In B2B organizations, more than 50% of marketers are not testing. With web and mobile becoming an important and integrated component of many organizations’ channel strategies, you can’t afford to not continually (and quickly) evaluate those strategies. To give a sense of scale, web giants (Amazon, eBay, Google, etc.) may run hundreds of tests per day. While that likely doesn’t make sense for your organization, there’s a happy medium between not enough and too much.

You have the data you need to target - use it!

You have the data you need to target - use it!

As consumers become more aware, knowledgeable and self-empowered, it becomes critical for the business to engage with the consumer from their point of view:

What do they want or need?
What’s the most effective way to engage with them?
How do I entice them into my store or website?
How do I get them to come back?

There’s no magic bullet or secret sauce. But with all of the data available to marketers today, you no longer have to stab in the dark to find out what your customers will respond to. Not taking advantage of insight around what customers respond to (or don’t!) seems almost criminal.

For one organization, their marketing group uses an iterative test-and-learn process in their marketing campaigns. As the campaigns are designed and executed, results are used to continually adjust the campaigns going forward. Marketing automation tools allow them to create multiple variants of a campaign, and data analysis drives a closed-loop measurement process. Creativity still remains an essential component of marketing, but data provides the connection between creativity and meaning. So while you might not be able to “Amazonify” your test-and-learn capability tomorrow, it’s never too late to get started.

Want a "real world" example of how Marketing Automation can make a difference in these scenarios? Check out this story about Staples - the office superstore giant that also operates the third largest e-commerce site in the world. Let us know what you think.


tags: experimentation, innovation, marketing automation, test-and-learn
11月 062014

I had the opportunity recently to attend the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) “Masters of Marketing” conference. In almost every presentation, each CMO credited their success in the marketplace with an ability to take risks. With the stratospheric growth in digital marketing initiatives and a need for speed-to-market, rapid innovation and experimentation is now part of the day-to-day DNA of the marketing organization. Or is it?

Prosciutto (ham) is not to be confused with Pancetta (bacon). Capisce?

In Italy, prosciutto (ham) is not the same as pancetta (bacon). Capisce?

Tapping into the bacon-obsessed marketing segment (I’m betting the Experian Mosaic segment for this category represents 98.7% of the US population), Kraft’s Oscar Mayer brand created the Institute for the Advancement of Bacon.

Their digital marketing program includes an integrated social media, website and mobile bacon app for iPhone (and a few lucky people who won the “bacon dongle” that attaches to your phone and had has a bacon-smell atomizer). Their latest campaign is the The Great American Bacon Barter, which you can follow on Twitter @BaconBarter.

This pig is not amused.

Not amused by all this fuss about bacon.

Kraft also turned a nationwide Velveeta cheese shortage (during Superbowl time, no less!) into a marketing extravaganza…the Cheespocalypse…by creating an entire social media strategy on the fly to connect Velveeta cheese lovers with available in-store inventory. Now that’s innovation!

Deanie Elsner, CMO of Kraft, attributes her team’s success to “Agile Marketing.” Their agile marketing framework includes three pillars: data, infrastructure, and content. In her ANA presentation, Deanie noted that they were sitting on almost two decades of consumer data within Kraft (that's big data by any standard). They tapped into that data to build out micro consumer segments – they’re currently managing 500 proprietary target segments that help them facilitate a one-to-one conversation with the consumer. With so much first-party data available, they’re able to tap into that information to drive more relevant engagement with consumers.

As engaging as their marketing campaigns are, it’s not all about the creative: Data and measurement underlie every decision they make. They treat innovation as a discipline, not a free-for-all. And just because you innovate, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get it right every time. Companies like Kraft aggressively use test-and-learn approaches to shape their go-to-market strategies. Their agile marketing framework allows them to execute quickly, and their culture of innovation encourages risk taking. But how do they know what campaigns will work? Deanie’s team mines customer data – in fact, if they predict you won’t eat bacon, you won’t see a bacon ad.

According to a 2014 Gartner survey, 83% of marketing organizations set aside roughly 9% of their annual budget for innovation. That sounds pretty good – except that Forrester Research puts that number at only 11% of marketing organizations. There’s obviously a gap in there. Our observation is that innovation needs more focus in marketing, and data-driven innovation in marketing is still at the ground level.

Mmmmm….do I smell bacon?

tags: ana, Association of National Advertisers, bacon, big data, innovation
2月 202014
Patent trolls, aka Non-Practicing Entities (NPE), assert patents against companies in an attempt to collect license fees, but do not otherwise manufacture products or provide services themselves. They use the cost of the litigation as leverage to force settlements from the operating companies. For small companies, it could mean closing their doors.