Infrastructure

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

Personalization with Big Data

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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

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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.

CloudGate

Mashable’s Ben Parr called it Cloudgate to describe what happened when Amazon’s Elastic Could Computer (EC2) went down leaving some major websites in the dust, such as FourSquare, Quora, Wildfire, and more. I think this caught everyone off guard because there had been numerous articles about Amazon’s lead in the Cloud Computing space. The company has been at it for a while and has a head start in learning how to build an efficient cloud infrastructure.Last week, though, we had a friendly reminder that even the good can die young. That we have to always be prepared for the unexpected. (Yes, that’s one of my mottos). Some valuable lessons:

  • Build redundancy – and if your hosting partner can’t provide it, go find another partner to act as your back up.
  • Take service level agreement seriously – some of my friends tell me they were not very stringent
  • Employ some of your own monitoring tools just so you don’t loose any time to be notified about your site being down
  • Cloud Disaster Recover Options — Look into third parties to help you with this
  • Leverage Twitter to send out alerts and let people know what is going on.
  • Follow up with customers and let them know what happened, that you apologize and that you want their suggestions of how to be notified in the future (I only heard from one company who was impacted)
  • Impact of new features and functionality — when you add new i-candy to your site or backend functionality, make sure to conduct complete end-to-end testing

Related articles:Amazon cloud crashes endangers federal websitesIs your favorite website down today? Blame AmazonAmazon takes down the DOE