Future of Work Interview: Robert Brownstone, Technology, eDiscovery and Computer Forensics, Fenwick and West LLP

This interview was written up while drinking a Soy Latte at the Swank Bar in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood.

A “Make Your Own Major” Type of Job

For the last 18 months, I have become interested in the emerging fields of Digital Risk, Crisis Management and Cyber Security. So, I decided to reach out to Robert Brownstone (@ediscoveryguru) from Fenwick and West, LLP. I know Robert from when I sought his advice on the Internet and the Law. Normally, we share stories and exchange ideas while eating Chinese food on Castro Street in downtown, Mountain View.  Our meetings remind me of George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld, engaged in this intense conversations at Monk’s Cafe. Today, however, I telephoned him from the Human 1.0 office in Cambridge, MA, where there is only one restaurant (Italian, not Chinese) within walking distance.

Brownstone started his career on Wall Street as a white-collar crime litigator in fraud cases. He then became law school professor and program director while working as a part-time lawyer. For the last thirteen years, Brownstone has been working out of Fenwick’s Silicon Valley office where he has his hand on the pulse of legal and technical issues impacting, some which impact of the most innovative companies in America.

Bill Fenwick, the firm’s founder, originally hired Brownstone as his “experiment” and gave him the title Knowledge Manager.  He wanted to take a law teacher and litigator, and as Brownstone describes it, “pump my head with as much computer knowledge as possible in hopes that I would continue to spark some new developments and opportunities for the firm.” Fenwick asked Brownstone to focus on electronic discovery, IT, Data Security, and Legal issues with the intention of sharing these learnings in two ways: “in house” with Fenwick attorneys and “out-house” (really called “outsiders”) with Fenwick clients.

Brownstone characterizes his role at Fenwick as a “make your own major type of job,” where he has often finds himself immersed in issues such as intellectual property, the protection of trade secrets, data security strategies, and employer-employee disputes over data. To make all this new information useful, he says, “the secret sauce is understanding  (our) clients’ business and how their internal information systems work.”

Digital Law: Riding the River

In representing many high-tech and life science companies, Brownstone has found that his main challenge is in the area of Digital Law, which is in flux right now with the Courts wrestling with some major issues, such as:

  • How to protect data secrets and information and what to do when their use is in dispute
  • How to handle electronic information over a lifetime –from creation to usage to destruction
  • How to handle electronic information issues when a company gets sued or when there’s an electronic discovery (e-discovery) request 

Clog That Drain: Prevent Data Leakage and Cut Your Losses 

According to Brownstone, there are essentially three ways information can leak from a company:

  1. An employee or some other insider is intentionally trying to harm the company and puts information in front of the public (sometimes via the Internet). The most highly publicized examples would be from the Wikileaks site. Basically, someone is trying to harm an organization through disclosure or an accusation.
  2. An intentional disclosure becomes unintentionally harmful.  An employee, executive, or other insider posts something (i.e. a photo or a tweet) but he or she does not know the FTC prohibits specific kinds of disclosures under certain circumstances. [Having managed online communities and social networks since my AOL days in the mid-1990s, I would say this happens at lease once or twice a year for many companies.]
  3. An unintentional disclosure. Confidential Information gets out via a smart phone, laptop, device, or paper when the item is stolen, hacked or lost. There is no malice or intent on the part of the employee or client, but the information still gets leaked.

Even if the law does not require it, companies can reduce their risk and exposure when it comes to data leakage. Two ways to reduce a company’s risk exposure are:

  1. Role-Based Access Control or what IT folks call RBAC, which essentially means that not everything within the virtual or physical world is open to everyone in the company. For example, different permissions granted to folks who need to access databases, etc. Brownstone calls this approach “narrowing the risk of leakage.”
  2. Encryption, particularly for company-issued devices (laptops, phones, etc.) to the extent the data can be encrypted. Two purposes are served. One: companies can prevent someone who steals or finds a lost laptop “from sucking out, bit by bit, the data on that drive and booting it up in another machine.”  This measure is important.  First, companies want to protect their employees and their data. Second, companies will not have to take a hit financially or in the court of public opinion by having to announcing a data breach. (Note: some States handle this differently and for customer-relations reasons, many companies choose to voluntarily disclose breaches to their users).

The Mobile Horse Has Already Left the Barn

The ubiquitous usage of mobile devices makes controlling a company’s data even more complicated and gives Information Technology (IT) leaders multiple headaches. Brownstone advises companies to consider issuing a second phone and to officially notify, educate, and remind employees that “Anything which involves your company device” is the company’s property.

Brownstone states “this is the cleanest way under the law to handle data on a mobile device – it is a clean way to deal with a complex issue.” He points out, however, “It gets tricky because most organizations, especially hi-tech companies, are in the mode of not wanting to stifle employees from being able to hook as much as possible into the network at any time wirelessly or otherwise” and from their devices of choice.” 

Leaving employees to (literally) their own (mobile) devices exposes the company to multiple security issues. If a company decides to follow this route, it can be difficult to change how employees operate. Brownstone points out though “If the horse is already out of the barn in a data security situation, then it is a lot trickier in advance to establish good practices.” In most cases, employees are already using their own phones for work so it’s a challenge for a company to regain control. 

Warning: You Have The Whole World In Your Hands

Other significant mobile-related considerations involve location services:

  1. Due to GPS technology, employers can potentially track where their staff is and has been and has been at all times.
  2. The frictionless sharing of Facebook, for example, means that employees download an app and opt in to sharing, or when they log-in to a site that uses Facebook credentials, their personal information gets shared.
  3. The Fourth Amendment has not prevented courts from allowing law enforcement to seize an individual’s mobile device.  In some instances, officers practice computer forensics and carry a tool that can do bit-by-bit capture of certain types of data off of a mobile device, e.g. employee data, and by logical extension, employer data. This significant information becomes not just mobile, but able to be seized by law enforcement.
  4. Remember: Not everything stored on a mobile device is encrypted!

Potential Disasters and Detours

I ask Brownstone about some of the more organizational challenges his clients face. He mentions:

  1. Sales people negotiate and close business deals by sending instant messages. If there were ever a dispute about a contract, one General Counsel feared she might not have an actual copy of the final terms of the contract. She asked Brownstone to write her a new policy, forbidding negotiations over IM.
  2. General Counsel and the CIOs/CTOs are not alwasy on the same page (or even in the same meeting). Brownstone illustrates this concern with a story about how he witnessed an IT leader telling his executive team that he had thought he was following Legal Department orders when he had captured, stored, and logged all employees’ instant messages for the prior three years. This turned General Counsel red in the face and feared all of the information would be available if the company were ever subpoenaed and had to collect, process and review all the information. The discovery process alone could cost more than any lawsuit.
  3. Brownstone cites an article that says “Lawyers are from Mars and ITs are from Venus, so you need a translator.” Both groups are infamous for their acronyms and jargon. Getting them to work together during discovery can mean interplanetary mayhem. (You can find the article here as well as some material Brownstone-co-authored on that theme).
  4. Anticipate all the potential data leaks and make a prioritized list. Brownstone recommends working through them over time. Don’t try and conquer the law in one day.

Your Employees’ Own Personal Pages 

Since I am conducting a social media-training program for a Fortune 500 company, I ask about employee-owned Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Brownstone states that it’s more challenging to establish rules for company-sponsored pages than address what employees might be doing with their own pages on their own time:

“The law is really unsettled…and there are some issues that cut across both arenas of company-sponsored and individual pages. For a company of a substantial size, if someone anonymously posts praise or an endorsement of (that) product, the FTC calls it a testimonial, and if they don’t disclose that they work at the company or are a spouse of someone that works at the company that actually runs afoul of the long-standing FTC guidelines for online product endorsements“. [Disclosure: I worked with the FTC on this in an advisory capacity while serving on the board of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association in 2008.]

Brownstone points out that even in the age of disclosure and transparency, publicly traded companies need to be alert: “It is very dangerous for someone to post anonymously even if they are praising the company. In some instances this is called ‘sock puppeting.’ (Read the Wall Street Journal’s article about a famous example of this involving the CEO of Wholefoods)

Brownstone recommends that companies focus on “narrowing the risk” by:

  1. Providing training for employees
  2. Implementing a Rules Based Access Control approach
  3. Using encryption as much as possible (and don’t just depend on the Cloud)
  4. Communicating with your legal advisors as soon as possible so they can advise and reroute rather than react or put out a fire
  5. Cleaning all devices before and after international travel
  6. Having a clearly identified owner for company branded social media pages. 

Note: the law is more stringent overseas, e.g. a company cannot just say they can confiscate an employees device because it is presumed that personal information exists on it.

For More Information

Brownstone speaks at conferences often, offers webinars, and publishes quite a bit. He is also an avid online reader of law and technology items, especially of what lawyers used to call “Advance Sheets.” His favorites include Law Technology News, the New York Times (especially the Business and Technology sections), Compliance Week and beSpacific. He also relies on his mentors including:

  • Bill Fenwick, whom we discussed above
  • Matt Kesner, Fenwick’s CTO
  • Browning Marean of DLA Piper, a large business international firm
  • Kevin Moore, Fenwick’s IT Director
  • Patrick Premo, a Fenwick litigation partner championing efficiency and alternative fees
  • Delos Putz, Professor Emeritus of USF School of Law

(Brownstone provided a bibliography below about eDiscovery, Computer Forensics and Technology).

Brownstone loves eDiscovery and all things “e”.  As he explains, “My wife and friends of mine say it puts them to sleep when I start talking about eDiscovery. But, I have to say as a technologist, I have seen his passion first hand. Our one-hour scheduled Chinese food lunch hours often turn into a two and half hour discussion. Fortunately, he doesn’t bill me by the hour for these talks but freely exchanges ideas as he does in his many presentations around the hemisphere.

Thank you for visiting.

Advertisements

Long Live the Funnel

Reaching SMBs

Contrary to what you might have heard, rumors about the Marketing Funnel’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

The Funnel is alive and well. And it should be leveraged extensively by Marketers. It provides a consistent and universally understood (and somewhat accepted) framework. The funnel does come in a variety of shapes and sizes and colors – with different twists and turns. Despite this variety, few Marketers really leverage this powerful model.

The funnel enables Marketers to have an almost universally understood visual representation of various customer touch points, and makes it easier to track and score a person’s behavior. The Marketo funnel provides a good (although, not the only) framework and consists of six key stages:

  • Awareness: This is the universe of people who know anything about Marketo no matter what social network they participate on, what articles they read, etc.

  • Inquiry: This is when we finally know something about the…

View original post 1,259 more words

Long Live the Funnel

Contrary to what you might have heard, rumors about the Marketing Funnel’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

The Funnel is alive and well. And it should be leveraged extensively by Marketers. It provides a consistent and universally understood (and somewhat accepted) framework. The funnel does come in a variety of shapes and sizes and colors – with different twists and turns. Despite this variety, few Marketers really leverage this powerful model.

The funnel enables Marketers to have an almost universally understood visual representation of various customer touch points, and makes it easier to track and score a person’s behavior. The Marketo funnel provides a good (although, not the only) framework and consists of six key stages:

  • Awareness: This is the universe of people who know anything about Marketo no matter what social network they participate on, what articles they read, etc.

  • Inquiry: This is when we finally know something about the person; we know at least their their name and email address.

  • Prospect: This is when the individual has taken some sort of action.

  • Lead: Finally This person is treated as a lead and can be shared with a sales organization.

  • Opportunity: The sales team has accepted these leads and added them to their pipeline.

  • Customer: The person becomes a customer and they are passed on to a new revenue cycle for upsell and retention.

miller_funnel.JPG

Of course, each of these stages include multiple marketing tactics and scoring approaches.

It’s important, though, to understand the difference between a contact (or a prospect) and a true lead (someone who has explicitly engaged with the company). Obviously, the relationship does not end after an individual becomes a customer. At that point, you can upsell or cross sell them.

You can determine the value of a customer based on the different products they purchase, if they adopted your product sooner than others or if they are part of a referral program, etc.  As Seth Godin points out – “Customers are traditionally undervalued, and prospects are all treated the same.”

Godin continues:

“Once you see the funnel, it’s easy to understand how valuable your existing customers are, and easy to think about how you want to spend time and money in promoting and building your site. Most Marketers are running a flat campaign. Embracing the funnel changes the way you treat people. And treating different people differently is what consumers demand.”

Having a model like the funnel and a good marketing automation tool enables you to measure and understand the cost of each interaction. Sharing this information with the rest of your organization helps build a Marketer’s credibility in a company, especially with the CFO.

The funnel also provides a learning framework for Marketers to test out different messaging and creative at each stage of the funnel. This gives Marketers the option to fine-tuning his current program.

Since I started my first big marketing job in American Express in 1992, I have heard lots of critiques of the funnel. Marketers love the catch phrases, such as ‘The Funnel is Dead.’ Well, I disagree. It’s advantages have has evolved since 1898 when E. St. Elmo Lewis developed a model which mapped a theoretical customer journey from the moment a brand or product attracted consumer attention to the point of action or purchase. (St. Elmo Lewis’ idea is often referred to as the AIDA-model – an acronym which stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action). Let’s address some of the funnel naysayers’ concerns, most of which apply to any marketing or sales model:

  1. It fails to take into account the ‘feedback loop between existing customers and prospects.’ Whether it is the funnel or another framework (such as a Life Preserver Ring of unique  ‘Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action areas’), there always exists the challenge of tracking all the interactions among people (customers and prospects ). It’s always difficult to uncover each discussion about your brand online.

  2. The funnel is too linear. According to these critics, the primary problem with the funnel is that the buying process is no longer linear. Well, I was always taught that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  Most of the companies I work with, however, do have the majority of their customers follow more or less a linear process. They can be broken down into the different stages described in the Marketo model above.

  3. If fails to track retention or repeat business. I must confess this might be the weakest part of most funnel models. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the simplicity of the Funnel’s approach. Most frameworks do not go into any great detail about ‘Retention’ or ‘Lifetime Value’ anyway. The bottom line is that good Marketers constantly score their customers over time. American Express might be the masters at this. They leverage all their great Cardmember spending data to model, score and customize online and offline programs.

  4. It fails to paint a pretty picture, nor does the word funnel doesn’t sound great. I never did judge a book by its cover or a person by their name. If this is what a Marketer is worried about, then they are focused on the wrong things. There are many powerful Six-Sigma names and diagrams, for example, that don’t convey a powerful image such as SIPOC (Single Point of Contact), DPO (Defects Per Opportunity), PD (Proportion defective)

  5. It fails to take into consideration the powerful feedback loops between existing customers and newly arriving prospects that search and social media have wired up. I beg to differ. If you have some of your word of mouth programs coded properly you should be able to track shares, referrals and other types of influencer programs.

  6. It fails to consider some products, such as iPhones, where marketing is integrated into the product. I think it comes down to how you set up your programs. You should be able to track cross-sell and upsell, and even referrals from within a product. With Flurry, for example, you can track your customers behavior when they use a mobile app. It tracks the big 3: taps, tasks and transitions.

  7. The Funnel fails to capture all touch points. Over time, a good Marketer should be able to define these, however. They also should ensure they are in learning mode so that they can constantly update their list of sources. This means they should be tracking referral links, surveying their customers and analyzing where their competitors get their leads from.

And then there’s the McKinsey Consumer Journey (see below) which attempts to demonstrate that the buying process is not linear and that several steps repeat themselves. For the real digital practitioner, however, it’s too simple to say someone goes from Bond to Buy:

.

While brands may put the decision maker, the Customer,  at the center of the McKinsey Customer Journey, the above excludes the importance of the experience the Marketer and the company are having with the customers. Life is not all about the transaction. For example, at Marketo, our energy goes into building relationships with Marketers as well as connecting Marketers together. In addition, you don’t have to be a customer to recommend a product. I am probably the biggest promoter of Tesla, but I can’t afford one. I have only tried it via a Freemium ride provided by a neighbor and have read great reviews about it on Edmunds.com. Does that mean I can’t recommend the vehicle to others? Obviously not.

In sum, CMOs and their teams need to know that the funnel is alive and kicking. Rumors of its demise are greatly exaggerated. The Funnel is an easy to use, easy to remember approach to tracking individuals who interact with your brand – either directly or indirectly. It’s simplicity is what makes it special – and it provides the most universally understood way of thinking about an individual’s interaction with your brand. It works not only in a B2C environment, but also in a B2B environment. Marketers should always feel free, however to add their own creative twist on things and rename all or parts of it.  Long-Live the Funnel.

Disclaimer: I am currently an employee at Marketo, so yes ‘I bleed Marketo Purple.’

Note: This will be the second of a series of posts that look at CMO’s evolving role in companies, especially as the “run and gun” campaign approach moves to building longer-term customer relationships. My next article will focus on How to Build a High Performing Band of Marketers.

Marketers Need To Quarterback (or own) Their Technology Decisions

Over the last year, the role of a marketing team within a company, particularly the CMO, has evolved drastically. Being able to market in its most traditional sense is no longer they key: businesses expect marketers to become digital and technology leaders. The marketing department now consists of technology builders, who have to create new channels (websites, mobile apps, facebook apps, etc), implement new tracking systems (marketing automation, CRMs, mobile analytics), and integrate these into their customers’ experiences. More importantly, they have to quantify each step of the marketing funnel.

As Gardner Research often points out “Technology is the heart of Marketing, and CMOs will outspend their company’s CIO by 2017.” This new responsibility requires looking at their job through a different prism. They need to conduct business in a completely different manner because now, it’s vital to the success of their business. CMO’s now have to:

  • Find the right technology provider whose nimble

  • Ensure they can easily fire your technology provider just as they would do with with their ad agency

  • Build in performance goals for the technology provider

  • Rely on the CIO to drive the technology purchasing decision

  • Make key decisions by extensively kicking the tires of these technologies. (Note: To this day, it still surprises how many technology providers do not have sandboxes or a demo product for CMOs to properly evaluate their products.)

As a result Marketing will have to quarterback the technology acquisition and licensing process for their companies. To accomplish this, they will need to:

  • Sync up with the company’s business goals

  • Prioritize and identify the critical few projects

  • Facilitate projects and communications between marketing and IT

  • Prioritize funding for marketing technologies

  • Select, evaluate and choose technology providers

  • Define success for these providers (hold them accountable)

  • Design and implement technology keeping digital business models in mind

  • Plan ongoing reviews of technology provider and your goals

  • Push your technology provider to continue to ameliorate their technology

According to IBM’s CMO study, however, there are many barriers to adopting technology. See below:

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 11.52.20 AM.png

None of these, however, focus on being able to leverage technology to improve the overall customer experience or extract actionable data. Marketers need to carefully consider how implementing a new marketing system impacts people visiting their site. This needs to be carefully looked at by capturing VOC (Voice of the Customer and looking closely at data.

I am surprised, however, how many still don’t focus on lifetime value or retention. As eMarketer shows below, there tends to be a focus on one time activities (campaign tracking) and brand analysis (which does focus on their customers behaviors and competitive intelligence.

169887.gif

Understanding your customers data is the fuel of your marketing organizations. Since marketing is now a key for major technology buyers, CMOs need to know how to evaluate, implement and leverage new systems. All parts of marketing is impacted by technology.

To prepare for their new role, CMOs then need to

  • Be able to quantify each step of the funnel which means they need to have the technology to accomplish this.

  • Identify or hire individual who has the technology background in Marketing Automation, CRM, and Web Analytics. In many cases, you don’t even need to have a Marketing Technology officer as some companies are beginning to do. As a result, a new job title has come on the scene – “Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO). Within large companies — more than $500 million in annual revenue — 81% of them now have a chief marketing technologist role, up from 71% just a year ago. Another 8% expect to add that role within the next 24 months. However, smaller companies might not be able to afford to pay for an additional Marketing chief.

  • Have this person map out your technology and challenge them to figure out how the many pieces of the many technology puzzle fit together (no solution will solve all your problems) — how your marketing automation system fits with your CRM system, for example)

  • Be committed to a just-in-time agile approach (they can learn from their engineers meet Agile Development process and apply it  marketing)

  • Map out the process too before buying the technology (but be flexible)

  • Embrace technology — pick a few technologies to learn. Yes, I think CMOs need to understand how some of these products work.

Marketers need to understand that any change in a company’s infrastructure can impact the overall customer experience. They need to embrace technology vs. fear it. They can no longer say ‘it’s too technical to understand.’ As Phil Fernandez, Marketo’s CEO said, “The days of ownership are being replaced with the days of partnership.”

In the modern, connected, mobile environment, companies need to connect with customers with personalized and differentiated services. So called “stickiness” is essential and CMOs should be better equipped to meet those demands, regardless of whether or not they have the same level of technical knowledge as the CIO

Despite all of the above, CMO’s should not be lead by technology and should remember that it is just an enabler. Instead, marketing leaders should:

  • Map out the ecosystem of everyone who impacts your product

  • Focus on a few target audiences at first (prospects, customers, partners)

  • Map out each of their customer journeys (online and offline)

  • Identify their water holes and where they spend their time

  • Understand how they speak about their work, your product, etc.

  • Understand the jobs/tasks they get paid to do

  • Map out potential experiences in the funnel

  • Determine the right technology to collect data at those key touch points

Much of the change in the CMO’s role is due to customers’ every increasing influencer. More and more conferences, articles, etc. will focus on this. For example, next month, the Incite Conference in San Francisco will focus on the CMO’s evolving role. There need to be more detailed blueprints for Marketers to follow. Hopefully, this post provides some guidance.

This will be the first of a series of posts that look at CMO’s evolving role in companies, especially as the move from ‘run and gun’ campaign approach to building longer-term customer relationships. My next article will discredit the myth that the marketing funnel is dead.

Training tomorrow’s Marketers on Big Data

Big Data Boot Camp for Marketers

Big Data is rock’n the Marketer’s world. It is signalling a wake-up call that marketers need to be more metrics driven, more technically savvy and more process oriented. At the top of the food chain, CMOs are taking on responsibilities that traditionally belonged to CIOs. And at the middle management level, marketers are being required to be more technical and metrics oriented.

The days of just fishing for eyeballs or operating based on one’s gut instinct are long gone. It is no longer acceptable to just look at demographics or psychographics or just count eyeballs. Instead, marketers need to focus on the numbers — people’s tribes, their behaviors, their interests, their online behavior — both in terms of surfing the website or a mobile app or transacting with a page or shopping cart..

Most marketers would agree, however, that they are not prepared for the incoming Big Data wave: they lack resources, lack data know-how, and they don’t know how to get started.

According to a study from The Economist Intelligence Unit, only 24% of marketers use data for actionable marketing insight. Furthermore, in that same study almost 50% of marketers cited a lack of capacity to analyze big data. Some companies are increasing their budgets for Big Data analytics. The problem is that there’s no road map for getting these marketers up to speed.

Rather than focus on the bells and whistles (the technology) of big data, here’s are 7 steps a marketer a marketer can take to get out of their comfort zone and jump into the Big Data World:

  1. Understand the definition of Big Data, which is usually defined by the 3Vs:

    1. Volume or the amount of data involved

    2. Variety or to how the data is structured

    3. Velocity or the rate at which it is generated and analysed

  2. Subscribe to and learn from few key bloggers, who can teach you the ropes:

    1. SemAngel Blog by Gary Angel: Gary brings over twenty years of experience in decision support, CRM, and software development. Gary co-founded Semphonic and is the President and Chief Technology Officer.  But don’t let the CTO title fool you. Gary is the the brightest consultant I have worked with and can take complex techn issues and break them down into easily digestible and understandable. chunks for markets

    2. Analytics Blog by Justin Cutron: Justin is currently the Analytics Advocate at Google, so he has a boatload of knowledge. In his blog, he breaks down digital analytics for businesses.

    3. Customer Analytics blog by the SAS’ companies – This blog is for anyone who is looking for ways to improve the business of marketing and communicating with customers, which includes everything from multi-level marketing to social media campaigns.

    4. Big Data Hub by IBM: This blog is filled with case studies, videos, etc. from key players at IBM and beyond.

    5. Business Analytics Blog by Tim Elliot: Tom is an Innovation Evangelist for SAP. This blog contains his personal views, thoughts, and opinions on business analytics.

  3. Get your organization big data ready:

    1. Tear down your organization’s silos and engage multiple departments

    2. Give team members homework — tell them to read the blogs mentioned above.

    3. Think about how you will link your current data infrastructure to your project (that means a business analyst, and IT guy, etc. should be involved in the meeting)

    4. Know and recognize that Big Data is a team sport

  4. Work with  framework your organization agrees on, such as:

    1. Define Your Goal

    2. Understand your resources

    3. Review key segment’s Journey

    4. Confirm you are capturing data during each phase

    5. Establish benchmark

    6. Create a small measurable deliverable (test)

    7. Track over time

    8. Establish toll gate reviews

    9. Expand program

    10. Tweak your programs as needed

  5. Define the desired outcome and the one question you want to answer

    1. Yes, narrow it down to one (primary) question

    2. Answer the question and move on

  6. Understand your inputs by breaking down your customer(s) journey

    1. Identify the different sources of data, such as social network behavior, information from third party lists, mobile usage, downloads, etc.

  7. List out different types of potential metrics you could track:

    1. Information related specifically to the customers transactions (or actions)

    2. Information related to a segment’s usage patterns

    3. Information related to the overall marketing program

In some respects Big Data is just an extension of database marketing, a popular term in the 1980s and 1990s because it focuses on leveraging customer information to segment an audience and develop personalized campaigns. The biggest difference now is that we can leverage unstructured data (video for example) and implement just-in-time programs.

I am a big believer in learning by doing. If a Marketer really wants to be figure out how to integrate big data into their business processes, they need to have on-the-job training. (And to that point, I actually believe this is important for the CMO as well as the Business Analyst, although the latter might get more in the proverbial data weeds!). If marketers don’t do this, they will lose their admission ticket to be in the marketing world.

10 Reasons to Build a G+ Community

Google+ had a big 2013. With over 1 billion registered users and 340 million active users, it is steadily gaining ground on Facebook. Part of its success is the result of  the rapid adoption of Google+ Communities, which resemble instantly creatable, lightweight discussion forums and are full of prospects and potential followers.Google-Plus-is-here-to-stay-and-marketers-are-missing-out-on-major-engagement-opportunities-if-they-arent-using-it.-299x300

Here are 10 reasons why you should use and build your own Google+ Communities:

  1. Embrace User Created Content: Google+ Communities allow you to leverage a platform where your strategic partners and customers can share best practices, answer each other’s questions and share valuable information. In essence, you are creating a place where your stakeholders can interact with each other. For example, National Geographic is one of the most memorable and traditional brands that has a thriving Community. It is called Exploration, not National Geographic, and is dedicated to an open “community of people who share a joyful sense of adventure, a passion for exploration and discovery, a love of learning, and a desire to make a difference.”

  2. Understand the mindset of your customers: By mining your Community’s content, you will gain a better understanding for how people talk about your company and its products. Their phrases and words can be incorporated into your marketing communications, your SEO, etc. I remember when I presented to Scott Cook, the Founder of Intuit. He would always say “don’t tell me the numbers, share the verbatim”. In other words, he wanted to know what were people saying and how they said it.

  3. Drink Google Juice: According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. By leveraging what you learn from Google+ Communities, you can determine the general sentiment of users on certain topics and identify keywords that can be used to have a positive impact on your SEO efforts. Google reportedly also favors Google+ content in search. With the number one search engine behind it, your Google+ business page and content will be indexed effectively. This alone makes quite the case for marketers looking for new brand visibility outlets.

  4. Let the people speak for you: By letting your customers and business partners speak about and show their appreciation of your products with +1s and clicks, your brand will gain credibility. Google reports that ads using Google+ get about 5% more clicks because the addition of +1 button. This adds credibility to your brand because people trust recommendations from people they know. indicates a sign that the ad is trustworthy.” Authorship certifies a certain credibility that sets Google+ apart as well.

  5. Establish Thought Leadership in the Industry: By having an open forum where people can express their opinions and share their experiences, you can become known for more than your product features or your brand name and logo.  Your brand will be associated with thought leadership within a certain category. It will become a trusted voice within your industry.

  6. Flexibility to create Private or Public Community: By setting up a private Community for your most avid customers and Power Users, you can create a VIP community of sorts. You can even have both a public and a private community and use the latter to demonstrate that ‘membership has it’s privileges.’ You can give your All-Stars direct access to employees, special content and unique offers. Several of my clients have a public community and a private community for their power users and AllStars. In a private community, they can be like the United Nations in a closed assembly, planning and voting on the future direction of their open Communities.

  7. Generate leads: By implementing what I call implicit marketing tactics—link users to useful information on your site vs. highlighting a new product—you can drive traffic to a landing page and then launch visitors into your regular lead-generation process. Think of your Google+ Community as the top of the marketing funnel.

  8. Enables you to segment content: By building out categories and using hashtags, you can filter your content and thus improve the discoverability of content. Users can just select the content they want much more quickly.

  9. Launch an event: By leveraging Google+ Hangouts technology, you can broadcast (one broadcaster to many viewers) or conduct small town halls (many to many, up to 10 people at a time). From Google +, you can schedule events, send out updates, and provide guests and manage updates. Hangouts are increasingly becoming a valued asset in communities.

  10. Ring around the Circles: By leveraging the Circles functionality, you can extend your network and segment and send customized messages to different groups of users. Once you have, you can then invite these segments into relevant communities. It is also a way for you track different types of content. For example, every morning, I check two circles I created: One for Small Business Influencers and one for Google+ Communities managed by Google employees.

Over time, Google will increasingly integrate it’s Google+ platform with the company’s other products and services. Today, Youtube and Photos work nicely with Google+, making the social network more dynamic, engaging and attractive for users. Tomorrow, we will see even more ways to build Google+ Communities into Google’s offerings. Therefore, if you want to be ahead of the curve, you need to jump on the Google+ Community bandwagon now.

Article was originally published on Hootsuite.com

Personalization with Big Data

database

Back in the 1900s (1991 to be precise), I trained in a database marketing type of boot camp. I worked on American Express (AMEX), managing it’s Gold Card direct marketing efforts. Amex, a leader in personalizing printed communications, had created its most successful program when it highlighted in the direct mail pieces that someone was a “Member since XXXX.” Yes, membership had it’s privileges. But also, for American Express, this personalization triggered a lift.

Show me what you got

Now it’s 20+ years later. And while 2013 was the year of Big Data in the back office where companies tried to set up the proper infrastructure and human resources to be part of this phenomenon, 2014 will be the year to personalize Big Data on the screen.

Of course, the term personalization has many meanings to many people. For the purposes of this blog, I am focusing on ‘the content on the screen.’ Customizing what the user reads and sees will be the challenge, especially because a responsive design approach still requires careful consideration about what is personalized on a tablet versus an iphone.

Big Data will be operationalized

With personalization being a key theme in 2014, marketers will need to get their hands dirty and truly understand the different categories in their customer database. They need to design their digital platforms with their database in mind, knowing that different areas of the screen can pull in content from both the customer and product database. For example, Amazon pulls in two different types of data based on my purchase behavior: books on digital marketing, which I am interested in, and children’s videos, which I access every night via their Instant Video. Their customer database might carry just the title name, the author and the price. The assets for that information would be in a product database. The two need to work closely together on the screen.

Every day, Netflix and Amazon demonstrate their ability to leverage this kind of data to talk to their customers on an individual and personal level. Sometimes, I think they could go a step further in personalizing info on the page, especially because one of the big battle grounds in 2014 will be same day delivery. Amazon and Wal-Mart can incorporate GPS data to determine potential offline purchases or product drop off points.

Intuit’s 2013 Turbo Tax product offers a nice personalized solutions for its loyal members. It automatically transfers returning customer’s personal information and prior year tax return data, including wage and salary information from their employer, and then adapts itself based on that information to splash screens and questions that are not relevant to their specific tax situation. The company leverages all the valuable preexisting info that sits in its databases.

Size doesn’t matter

Smaller and medium size companies need to take their old school ‘face-to-face’ approach to the next level and personalize more than just ads or emails. They need to personalize at all touch points, including customer service, Skype, Hangouts, etc.

It’s important to remember that having the largest dataset or most sophisticated database will not guarantee an effective personalization program. It requires testing out and knowing what data elements will motivate a customer or partner to take an action.

Getting under the hood

Here are simple steps to get you started:

  1. Assume any data element in your customer or product database can be used to personalize information on the screen.

  2. Identify the type of tribes/segments who will visit your site or your app (or even call customer service).

  3. Prioritize a list of 3 CTAs (call to action) you want each of these segments to take when they use your product/site.

  4. List out the information you want to display on screen.

  5. Map out these info elements for multiple screens (Tablets, Smartphones, etc.) because you can’t share the same information on a smartphone as you can on a PC.

  6. Confirm these data elements are stored in your database(s) and if not, plan on capturing and storing them.

  7. Work with your designers and programmers to determine how many characters, picture size, etc. you can fit on the page.

  8. Work with your analytics team to set up the proper tracking

  9.  Remember: Start simple. You don’t need to personalize each area on the screen.

  10. Also remember, give your marketing team a basic course in database marketing.

Training Marketers on how to leverage their customer and product databases will take time. The more they can understand about how data can be pulled from a system and displayed on a screen, the more effective they will be in selling their products and services. This will take time. This will require marketers to get their hands dirty, get under the hood, and understand more than the fundamentals of big database marketing. This is true even if they work outside Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley.

The question is: Do they have the desire to acquire this skill set?

Operationalizing Social Business

xhistoric_westspan_1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.TE6ETVrAE7

Earlier this week, I sent a Brandwatch research study to my brother, who manages a radio station, about the importance of Twitter. The report indicated that radio stations do not interact with their fans enough, and instead are stuck in the old paradigm of just blasting and broadcasting their message with their traditional one way approach.

The Brandwatch study also highlighted the fact that 75% of their interactions are with celebrities and brands (who pay the advertising dollars) and not their fans. The most important (and probably obvious fact to most people) is that people follow the personalities on the radio more than the station itself.

Even with the opportunity to highlight their DJs and newscasters more, most stations do not have specific goals and strategies for leveraging social networks. While they may be on it and posting a tweet here and there, they’re not optimizing their social media presence. This number increases substantially more when you consider how many don’t know how to operationalize their social efforts.

To get started, here is a basic checklist on how to operationalize your social efforts:

  1. Set up your primary account and keep your   password information in a safe place. Also, don’t let your digital agency or PR firm set up your account. Make sure one of your employees is the lead person and manager of the account in case there are any conflicts. Note, however, that you should make sure that employee shares all info with you and signs a legal document stating they will turn over the account when then leave. There will probably be no issues about this if the employee uses your company domain account

  2. Organize Team and Identify Moderators: Use the DACI approach with clarity around who is the Driver (project manager) of the project, the Approver (who owns the budget in most cases) of the project, the Collaborators of the project (moderators) and who needs to be Informed. While it might be a cost to hire your moderators before launching, getting them on board early can help set up some of the infrastructure you need to build a successful social network presence. For example, they can create a stockpile of back up posts and also be involved in establishing the tone and spirit

  3. Document the tone and spirit of your posts and tweets: Most mature and established companies have documented their brand positioning and how they want to communicate their brand to their customers. It’s more beneficial to do this early on, rather than blindly posting and tweeting. Even smaller companies should take some time to think this through.

  4. Build out your page: Appearance is important, even on social networks. While you’re thinking about your brand positioning, the aesthetics of your page should play a role too. Leverage company branding, photography and graphics guidelines. You should have a cohesive look and feel across all your pages.

  5. Create a content calendar: Build a content calendar for each social network (and their pages) that you manage. Throwing up posts last minutes can lead to too many issues. Vice versa, planning too far ahead won’t allow you you to factor in recent newsworthy topics. Ideally, you want the calendar to cover all content for at least two weeks into the future. You can plan for a longer period of time, but I have found that it is often difficult to plan too far down the road.

  6. Create a stockpile of back up posts: There are some posts, such as standard customer service posts or event announcements or welcome posts, that you will post/tweet over and over again. You might as well have a stockpile of them ready to go.

  7. Identify tools: The cost of good social media tools is quite minimal these days. Many of them are even free. I recommend that you have at least three types of tools ready to go: a posting tool (Hootsuite or Sproutsocial, a listening tool (Radian6 or Social Mention) and an analytics tool (Twitonomy).

  8. Create Rules of Engagement, Workflow Process and Answer Decision Tree: List out desired response times, the type of posts you will respond to, and all potential issues. Then try and place them into categories and assign and and owner to each of them. You’ll be able to be quantify how successful you are by setting these rules.

  9. Outreach to relevant influencers and followers: I am big on focus, focus, focus. Don’t try and boil the whole ocean and sign up as many followers as possible. It’s about quality, not quantity. I recommend reaching out to people who would have a vested interest in your products, services or offerings.

  10. Focus on a few critical metrics: There are so many different metrics to track on a social network. Concentrate on 3-5 levers, establish a benchmark, measure your success against them and keep raising the bar. Make your goals more challenging. Hold each person on the team accountable for these goals. Social Media is a team sport.

Executing well on the above ten areas will increase a radio stations or your probability of success. Remember, it takes a while to build an audience. Remember that Rome was not built in a day and neither is a social presence. Unless you are Nike or Madonna, it might take time to build your presence and generate a high degree of engagement on a social network’s page that you manage. The keys are to be persistent and consistent.

The Human Channel

Today, I am sitting in the Starbucks on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. I am watching everyone ear-plugged in and laptop ready. This is what I call the Starbucks Generation – Gen Y or millenials who work from anywhere there is an internet connection.To successfully reach this Starbucks Generation, it’s important to leverage the various Digital Channels, especially The Human Channel.

The Human Channel enables face-to-face interaction via the internet – either on a one on one basis or in a group setting. This is especially true on collaborative projects, such as demoing a complex product, troubleshooting a customer issue, or reaching influencers.

With more personal technologies, such as Google+ Hangouts and Skype, online human interaction is moving to the next level. Google Hangouts, for example, will fuse together best practices of call centers and digital marketing to create one type of Human Channel. Sarah Hill, a woman who has mastered the art of human media and is making a name for herself by being one of the most popular users on Google Plus, believes this technology will take customer service to the next level. She’s right. To learn more about Sarah Hill

Even Amazon, which once stated ‘the best service is no service’ offers personal human interaction on their Kindle. Their new feature Mayday, which is a single-click, that lets users work with a remote tech support representative to solve problems with their tablets: As Techcrunch recently pointed out “The service allows you to see a remote tech support person in a small window on your screen and also displays your screen on the support person’s computer where they can watch what you’re doing online, annotate the screen, and even tap through the interface”. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said it’s like “actually very similar to having someone standing next to you” and offering tech support. Imagine a company like Amazon moving in this direction. See their video about the service:

I recently did a Follow-Me-Home, Intuit’s term for watching customers use your product in their office environment, and played the role of a customer service rep at a client’s office. While on the phone, a customer couldn’t interpret or implement my suggestions for solving his problem. It wasn’t his fault. The client’s product is complex and requires creative problem solving to decipher the sites features.

I suggested to the customer that we get on a Google Hangout so I could watch how he used my clients application. The result was magical. I could see where he was clicking. I could listen to him describe how he used the program (it’s always valuable to hear the words a customer uses to describe their problem). But most importantly, I could record our interaction (yes, I asked for his permission to do this), so I could share everything I learned with the product development team.

Being face-to-face online improved our communication and our understanding of each other. It also opened up the opportunity to upsell or cross-sell additional services because I had his visual trust. I repeat: I had his visual trust. While there is a real and substantial opportunity to use Google+ Hangouts as a next generation customer service tool, it should also be thought of as a new sales channel.

One caveat: You need margin to spare if you are going to integrate this platform into your daily customer service, training or product demo operations. It might be costly to do one on one support using Hangouts. However, having a tutorial for many participants at once might not be as costly for a company. It’s expensive to do one-to-one training.

Despite this, the Human Channel will increasingly become important as companies begin to explore the digital space. In time, it will not only been an asset but a necessity for companies to  leverage the human channel. As tech savvy millennials get older, the need to reach this them through technology will become greater and greater. The Human Channel will enable companies to continue in their quest to humanize their offerings and get closer to their customers. It will also serve as a tool to reach a targeted audience.

Building the Everything Store with Many Silver Bullets

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 9.31.21 AM

In the new book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, author Brad Stone explores the rise of Amazon.com and the man behind it all, CEO Jeff Bezos. While we may all be very familiar with the brand today, the story of how Bezos and his team built an eCommerce giant from the ground up is quite astonishing. Stone states that Amazon needs ‘a chain of small advantages’ to stay ahead. I wish more CEOs thought this way. Almost all my clients look for a silver bullet that will take them to the promise land. It’s not that simple.

Unfortunately, digital products don’t work that way – the reality is that even big ideas require incremental changes via testing and fine tuning. One-Click checkout is a great example. Amazon implemented and tweaked it over time. However, they also prevented it’s main competitors at the time, Barnes and Noble (which has a preliminary injunction against them) and Borders (whose website I managed at the time) from implementing this innovative approach to shopping. In other words, implementing was one thing, preventing competitors from using it was another. Basically, Amazon won its case against Barnes and Noble, who was forced to turn their one-click into a two click approach. And Borders.com backed down and adopted the same type of functionality.

Eventually, they surrendered their monopoly on one-click, but it wasn’t until they had sufficient amount of time to establish a competitive advantage. I know from personal experience, having designed and implemented one-click checkout on eToys, Borders.com, KBtoys.com and a few other websites. It is not as easy as putting a button on web page.

To be successful, small changes require:

  • Clear definition of the product and feature
  • Agreement on the incremental, evolution change approach
  • An agile first-to-market implementation
  • A simple method for measuring ROI and Impact
  • A process for collecting customer feedback
  • A mindset of continuous improvement

With the increasing usage of mobile devices, it will be important to think in incremental improvements. What was it that Neil Armstrong said – “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

All of this requires the Bezos strategy of starting with the customer and working backward. While this sound obvious and somewhat cliche, I am constantly surprised how many companies don’t talk to their customers on a consistent basis. In fact, last year a client asked me “why would you want to talk to a customer if you already know what they are going to say.” Maybe that’s the problem. Customers often just want to be heard, But better yet, customers might even provide more insights the more you talk to them. Have you ever heard of the 5 Whys? It is an iterative question-asking technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.[1] The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem. (The “5” in the name derives from an empirical observation on the number of iterations typically required to resolve the problem.) Here’s an example from Wikipedia:

  • The vehicle will not start. (the problem)
  1. Why? – The battery is dead. (first why)
  2. Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
  3. Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
  4. Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (fourth why)
  5. Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, a root cause)
  6. Why? – Replacement parts are not available because of the extreme age of the vehicle. (sixth why, optional footnote)
  • Start maintaining the vehicle according to the recommended service schedule. (possible 5th Why solution)
  • Adapt a similar car part to the car. (possible 6th Why solution)

If you apply this technique to eCommerce, focus groups and quarterly check ins don’t cut it in this environment. You literally need to adopt a customer and become his/her best friend.

Obviously, Amazon continues to do amazing things. I was particularly impressed recently when they beat IBM in a contract to host the CIA’s web services. Hope they accidently share customer data with the intelligence community : ).

To hear a great interview with Brad Stone, the author of this new Amazon book, listen to the interview with him at NPR’s Fresh Air.

Be like Disney

disney

Recently, one of my favorite clients told me they wanted his community to be like Disney. What did he mean by Community? Today, this tends to be reference for a branded, company managed online community or a Facebook Page or a G+ Page. I like to extend the definition a bit to other online gatherings, such as all the ‘reviews’ about an Amazon book or an offline engagement, such as a MeetUp.

Since I really respect this person, I took his request on as a personal challenge to figure out what this meant and what it would take to accomplish it. Originally, his creativity kicked in and he had some great ideas for center stage. However, Disney creates the magic because it not only focuses on the Center Stage, but also on the Back Stage. Great ideas come to life on center stage but it all depends on the operations that happen behind the scenes.

disneybackstage

According to the Disney Institute, there are four key areas Backstage:

  • Guestology (which I call SMBography), which means that every employee (who touches a partner or a customer) should know and understand what that customer wants. One way to do this is to have employees active on in our online communities and social networks. To do this, you also need to treat each social network as a listening outpost so that you can better understand your ‘guests’ (members). Actions and decisions should also be data-driven so that you are not aiming in the dark. We should be prepared to invest in a pair of Big Ears, in the form of tools, resources, manpower.
  • Quality, which means we white glove (like Mickey Mouse) everything. This requires training our employees, our call center folks, and anyone who interacts with a user to go the extra mile and provide an unforettable experience. You need a road map of enhancements that consists of all touch-points, from the service desk to the boardroom, from your ecommerce store to the your customer service team.
  • Delivery, which means that your platforms, people and processes need to run efficiently. Decisions need to be data driven and constantly benchmarked against your previous results and your competitors track record.
  • Integration, which means that you need to take a more holistic approach in how you manage customer service, community, and commerce. You need to map out the Customer Journey and your Guests interactions — Map out while individuals from different parts of the company are in one room with laptops and cell phones off.

For more about these topics, read Be Our Guest (Revised and Updated Edition): Perfecting the Art of Customer Service by The Disney Institute and Theodore Kinni

For most companies, implementing the above requires a significant cultural change. However, it is necessary if you want to be successful in the digital and social world. It’s important to make sure your backstage operations are a well-oiled and managed machine. Otherwise, your inefficiencies will be apparent on center stage.

Implementing these changes is also crucial to be able to compete competitively. As more and more

companies perfect “the art of customer service”, users will not only expect quality from you but demand it. In the long term, these practice will be required to make your business sustainable.

If you have chance to visit Disney — online or at a theme park., take a moment to notice the little things that make the experience what it is. That magic doesn’t just happen. It’s built, cultivated, and perfected.