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Marketing Traditionalists and Marketing Scientists: A Collision or Collaboration?

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I would like to be crystal clear up front. When it comes to the characterizing types of marketers, most people don’t truly understand the definition of “traditional and scientist.” Many believe a traditionalist is all about “old school” media channels like TV, radio and print. Old guys like me grew up calling these “old school” channels “above the line” marketing. Often, the “scientist” is bucketed into newer channels like digital, social, mobile, or “below the line” marketing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

To dramatize the point, I’ll develop two personas for each type of marketing leader. I’ll use Tanya Traditionalist, and the other, Scientist Steve.

Tanya believes heavily on the persuasion of brand story telling. She relies more on emotive techniques and methods. Tanya truly believes that the “heart has a mind of its own” and if a brand can tap into the consumer’s desires and wants – game over.

Scientist Steve, on the other hand, is intrigued about using technology applications and data management to enable the process of persuasion. For him, as long as the nirvana of engaging the consumer with the right time, offer, channel and person are perfectly measured, monitored and optimized – game over.

For Steve, it’s ok if not all consumers connect emotionally as long as he creates a behavioral model that can evolve in real-time, keeping pace with the constant jukes and jives of finicky and skeptical consumers. For Tanya, she relies on insight-based research, common sense, or perhaps even gut to develop brand assets that connect to the consumer.

Neither is right or wrong. It’s about perspective. (If it makes the marketers feel any better, this debate over neo versus traditional rages on within academia and the scientific research community.)

For both Tanya and Steve, each play an important role in the outcome and the common ground is quite simple. Marketing is a social science, not physical science. This is not a trivial point, although it sometimes gets overlooked. Throughout the entire equation, people are front and center. After all, people are social animals who make conscious decisions. Naturally, with people comes uncertainty, change, unexpected behavior, motives, probabilities, culture, and a whole slew of variables that can change the buying dynamic within seconds. The operative phrase is infinite variables. There are an infinite number of reasons why people elect to buy or elect not to buy. Combine that with the fire hose of communications pushed through marketing media channels, the consumers are more informed, capricious, and more in control of the purchasing process.

This leaves Tanya and Steve choices of how to leverage their individual strengths and combine forces where applicable.

This seems like a natural collaboration of both traditional and science to win the consumer engagement battle. With a blend of insight-based thinking, strategy, and creativity, combined with process, content, and technology – these philosophies can live in harmony under one function called marketing.

Let’s use an example how each may approach the same objective but leverage their experience in combination using both offline and digital media channels. It’s a frame of mind using various skill sets, experience and tools. Here is the objective: Get John, a 37 year old male homeowner, to buy a chain saw at his nearest hardware store. This is a considered purchase given the application of the product use. The marketer doesn’t know if John is already in the category but broadly assumes that this type of consumer needs to be experienced enough to wield a chainsaw, thus this strategy is to displace a current brand, or upsell a current customer for a more contemporary model. For this use case, we will assume it’s a displacement; John is displeased with his current tool because it doesn’t start well, requires too much money to service and is seeking a new product that meets his criteria of reliability, and price/performance.

Tanya would think about the buyer’s journey from the perspective of introducing the brand in a storytelling format across media that allows the story to come to life. She is deft at knowing what techniques work best to persuade demand. In collaboration with Steve, she leverages data and insight to adjust and tweak the format to increase the consumer’s motivation. With so many channels at their disposal, and each continuing to play an important role along the purchase journey, Tanya and Steve can integrate knowledge, experience, data, models, and content strategies across both the digital and traditional landscape.

Challenged to develop a combination of national YouTube 15 second spots, they also have the chance to leverage any local remarketing lists to help drive dealer/retail traffic. Steve informs Tanya that most consumers opt out around the 5 second mark. This arms Tanya to adjust the storytelling so that the right content is played up to that point with a strong transition to get consumers to watch the remaining 10 seconds. Steve also helped Tanya realize some learnings from the multi-variant testing model he set up; speed, sound and action drive greater viewable impressions. She further refines the pitch on the next causality test and the results are overwhelmingly improved for video completions. Tanya role plays John’s persona and envisions his desired next action to product research, consumer reviews and local shopping habits based on his geo-location. Steve knows that adding local dealer tags on the end of the video moves a great portion of the consumers to take action. Tanya knows this is an informed purchase and 3rd party attribution is critical for Steve to narrow down his brand preference. Steve’s analytics informs Tanya that adding a five-star consumer review on the local dealer’s web site provides John confidence and deeper engagement.

Steve continues to collaborate with Tanya by leveraging his integrated customer buyer’s dashboard providing click through streams, tracking the buyers behavior across various information, and captures information such as landing pages, “search for dealer” prompts, and interactive POS stations carefully placed near the in store planogram. After all, a consumer’s behavior is a by-product of their intent.

With the combined knowledge, Tanya has connected to the emotional aspects of John. He is intrigued about the chain saw and the values of the manufacturer, the “Made in America” theme is riveting and it reminds John about the quality of his Ford F150 truck. It’s long lasting, and can withstand even the toughest of jobs. And a job well done. Tanya banks on the lowest cost per viewable impression with a nice balance of reach and frequency during peak buying seasons such as Spring and the Fall. Both work on other various storytelling formats, such as Cable spots, supported with local radio spots, billboards, and even includes newspaper inserts. With each viewable impression, she recognizes the role of the content in context. Steve analyses the multi-media approach, reviews the CRM unstructured text from the sales people’s notes, monitor’s the social media communities, reviews lifts in product registration and distributor sell-in data to the dealers. Both are convinced that this various combination drives even more store traffic.

While the brand work has got the door to swing open, the selling process still needs to continue. They remain curious and continue to explore the retail experience to determine if the integration of the story can create the theatre of the mind at John’s local retailer. Using best practices for “counter-back” techniques they deploy in store POS posters, planograms, hangtags, and plenty of educational materials to help John make the right purchase. John checks out the interactive POS and really loves the 3D view of the product in the 360-degree application. He scans the QR code on the hangtag just to make sure there isn’t a better deal where can buy online. While he sees there are, and could easily go home to make the purchase and have it shipped, he really wants to play with it right away and makes the purchase.

So why did I use this use case? Because it represents the exact same scenario for my client STIHL. Their entire marketing program has evolved, just as John has, just has marketing tactics have, just as Tanya and Steve have over time; and the end result is a resounding lift greater together than separate. It takes a village of subject matter experts to know exactly when to “turn on, turn off, and turn up” the media stimuli, content plays, length of videos, types of offers, media buys, email marketing, SEM, promotions, digital tracking and integration with all of the 8,000 points of retail up and through executive level reporting on success, trends and predictable analytics.

If you believe it’s better to mix the benefits of both, here are some current challenges marketing faces today.

USE CAUTION: Landmines to Avoid in the Science of Marketing

Fatigue: If technology applications and data management can enable the process of persuasion, let’s be cautious about content management. The tar pit of content being pumped out in petabytes per minute drowns the consumer. We all know consumers have been conditioned to drown out the advertiser, no matter how well Tanya thinks her message is relevant. Nobody wins.

Confusion: No matter how much Scientist Steve wants to manage the infrastructure, dozens of fractured marketing tech deployments across an enterprise can cause conflicting and confusing messages. This only frustrates the consumer. A few cases to demonstrate the point: I have one client that is about $15B, and they have over 60 different marketing technology applications. I have another around $3B that has about 35 marketing applications. When Scott Brinker, the Chief Martec, discovered the number of ambient Marketing Technology applications, he wasn’t kidding.

Clarity: Tinkering with multi-variant test models, and building advanced predictive analytics are to be built on sound hypotheses that connect back to clear and measurable objectives. Absent of this direct line of sight, it can be construed as experiments for experiment sake.

With science and traditional philosophies combined, both Tanya and Steve can understand why and how to move the needle, improve the user experience, and accelerate the purchase process.

Jeff Winsper, President of Black Ink, offers more than 20 years of leadership experience in marketing, serving companies ranging from Fortune 500 to start ups. His deep experience generated the insight that companies – in particular mid-sized enterprises – are lacking the foundation of proper big data analytics to measure marketing’s performance. Prior to launching Black Ink, Jeff founded marketing agency Winsper, part of Worldwide Partners, with 137 offices in 54 countries.

What You Can Learn About Customers Through Marketing Automation

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Did you know that there were nearly 11 times more B2B organizations using marketing automation software in 2014 than in 2011? Likewise, adoption is expected to increase by 50% in 2015, according to SiriusDecisions. Several large B2B providers have recently stepped into the arena, including Salesforce and Adobe.

What’s all the hype about? For starters, marketing automation saves time for for sales teams with automated follow ups, lead scoring, and lead grading capabilities. Perhaps more importantly, it lets marketers gain deeper insight into customers.

The true value of “understanding your audience” is a bit more intangible than the other benefits I mentioned, which is why it is often overlooked during evaluation. However, having a better understanding of your customer base will always pay dividends in the long term. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three core strategies that you can apply to marketing automation in order to gain more insight into your customer base.

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Customer Segmentation

The more segmented you can make your audience, the better targeted you can make your content. And we all know that targeted content offers a greater probability of eliciting an action from users. According to research from MarketingSherpa, 82 percent of prospects say that content targeted to their industry was more valuable, and 67 percent said content that was specific to their job title was more valuable as well.

Unfortunately, marketing automation will not segment your audience for you, but it does offer ways to simplify the process. This is accomplished through automation rules, which allow you to automate specific changes and functions within your account. These can be applied to lead scoring, grading, and follow ups, but can also be used to silo your prospects and current customers into separate lists based on the information stored in your CRM.

For instance, if for every customer in your CRM, you store information on their company size and job title, then you can begin segmenting your marketing automation platform’s database into lists of “CEO’s at Enterprise Companies” or “Sales Directors at SMBs.” You can then use your marketing automation platform to set up a drip campaign that will deliver targeted content directly to each of these niches. By monitoring click-through rates, you can determine which topics your audience finds most appealing, and use that to shape future content strategy.

Aside from the ability to A/B test different content, one of the best side effects of this functionality is that it will force you to pay more attention to customer segmentation. For instance, you may want to segment your audience based on which pages they converted on, the marketing method that brought them to your site, or even the buyer personas that you’ve defined. All of this is possible if you collect the right information in your CRM.


Segmented Surveying

Marketers have a responsibility to create channels to effectively communicate and gather feedback from current and prospective customers. The best marketing automation programs let you accomplish exactly that fairly simply.

Let’s say that you’ve successfully siloed your audience into several well-defined niches. Managing targeted drip campaigns and A/B tests are great, but what’s even more exciting is that you now have the ability to send a customized survey to each of those groups.

This is a huge opportunity to learn how they differ psychographically. You can also poll current customers on what it’s like to use your product, and see what the feedback is from each niche. For instance, you might find that SMB clients love you, but enterprise customers are dissatisfied. Whatever the results, you’ll almost certainly learn something new.

“Creepy” Behavioral Analytics

Unrelated to segmentation is the ability to see rich information about each and every prospect in your CRM. This includes both multi-touch attribution data, as well as information on which pages a prospect has visited on your site. Some might call these “creepy” analytics, and in some ways it’s hard to argue that. However, these stats are invaluable for understanding which combinations of content and marketing tactics are effective at converting leads on your website. They also help improve the overall customer experience, and allow marketers to provide more targeted, helpful content to individual visitors (especially when paired with a good marketing automation system).

Multi-touch attribution data allows marketers to see every single point of contact a customer has with your brand before they convert. Maybe they came through a Facebook post, then a PPC campaign, then an email, and then converted into a lead. There is no limit to the number of combinations that can occur, but you’ll likely find that some are more common than others. This data can help you decide where your marketing dollars should go, and how you should approach brand new prospects. Admittedly once you introduce this feature into your company, revenue attribution can become a bit of a headache. However, the value of this data is worth any temporary complexities.

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In addition to these analytics, you can also observe which pages your current prospects are visiting on your website, as well as which emails they open and click-through on. This is helpful in a number of ways. For instance, if a prospect visited your site, but wasn’t yet ready to buy, then visited your pricing page again a week later, that’s a sign that they’re considering a purchase. Cue the sales follow up!

With marketing automation adoption on the rise, it’s good for all businesses to be informed of the benefits associated with it. The software offers clear advantages to sales teams in the form of lead scoring and automated follow up, but what’s often less clear are the benefits afforded to marketing. Hopefully this article has painted a clearer picture for you.

Jordan Schneider is the director of marketing at TechnologyAdvice. He writes about project management, gamification, and other emerging technology in the marketing field. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

3 Keys to Get the Most Out of Your Data

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Today, marketers have access to more customer data than ever before, be it demographic and socioeconomic data, information about customers’ preferences, purchase histories, spending behavior and much more. In fact, many marketers have access to more than they can comfortably handle.

At the same time, though, the advantages of harnessing all of this data continues to grow. In order to stay ahead of the curve in today’s ultra-competitive landscape, it is essential for marketers to embrace the data revolution. These exploding data sources should be used as a tool to inform insights and smart decision-making – and that holds true for everyone from small companies to huge multi-national enterprises.

The good news is that data can now be rendered in flexible, innovative ways to unlock key insights from existing information, whether that means analyzing campaign revenue and survey responses or tracking social mentions and assessing buying behavior. The key to making your data do more is having a foundation of agile management systems that handle streams of complex, often unstructured data from multiple sources and present it in an actionable format.

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Here are three simple steps that all marketers should follow to make data useful:

  1. Make it Accessible

When implementing data analytics software, it is important to keep the data and the software accessible for everyone so businesses can empower marketers across all levels of an organization with the ability to quickly drill down to specific details. In this respect, self-service data analytics are fuelling a democratization process. Marketers can make day-to-day decisions based on information garnered from analysis without relying on data scientists within the business or requiring deep knowledge of things such as databases, SQL or Hadoop. When employees can easily access data to show trends, progress and outliers, they’ll be more likely to embrace it as part of their everyday routine and decision-making process.

This move towards democratizing data is pushing the marketing industry to new heights, helping people across all levels of a business to intuitively manage campaign analytics in real-time, for instance. Similarly, it’s helping these same people deploy familiar data sources in ways that can be easily disseminated in a clear and visually compelling way, whether it be to internal colleagues within an organization or during customer-facing presentations.

  1. Make it Visual

With visual analytics, marketers can more easily see and understand their data. Research shows that people can interpret visual information about 60,000 times faster than text (2012, Billion dollar graphics, The Power of Visual Communication). Accordingly, the ability to visualize data in charts and diagrams as opposed to having to scan through multiple lines of numbers not only saves time, but also allows marketers to interact with their data to discover answers that would otherwise be hidden.

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  1. Make it Actionable

Of course, accessibility and visualization on their own won’t do any good if they aren’t applied properly.

It’s important to build visualizations that inform and empower the business. Truly great dashboards help people make better decisions and inspire people to ask new questions. While there are many resources out on the web on designing great dashboards, here’s a quick guide on how to get started:

  1. Make sure you start with important questions first, rather than jumping into data gathering. Think about it in the sense of what the key questions are that your audience needs to answer from the dashboard.
  2. Stick to the few pieces of critical information. An important part of this process is to separate strategic questions from tactical questions. Separate these by audience (i.e. email campaign manager versus CMO) and deliver the right scope for each one.
  3. Break down the questions into small, meaningful indicators. Start small, identify the minimum set of data required to answer the questions with the dashboard.
  4. Think of dashboard development as an iterative process, where each new iteration brings new data and value to people.
  5. To answer key questions, you may need multiple data sources, internal and external. For example, if you are a retailer looking to maximize sales of common products, you may identify what products to stock up on/place in visible areas by combining weather data with transactional data. Tesco recently did this to prepare for customers buying barbecues on warm weekends. With this insight, the retailer ensured both barbecue food products and corresponding equipment were well stocked in their stores during the summer and in the months leading up.

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Keep in mind that strategic dashboards (for CMOs) and analytics dashboards (for analysts and people managing at the operations level) have different requirements.

For strategic dashboards, views should be clearly aligned with the core set of strategic priorities for the subject being addressed. For example, if a strategic priority for a product line is to increase repeat purchase, then have a view that is labeled exactly as that, in language typically used by the dashboard audience. Pointing out trends quickly, and the business targets and progress against those targets is what delivers the most value for this audience.

When designing analytics dashboards, they should typically include greater detail with a greater breadth of metrics. Assume they will be used daily or weekly, and make sure the data store support this level of updates.

The bottom line is that big data can lead to big value – but only if your analytics tools are implemented properly. Make sure you’re giving everyone access, giving them the tools to visualize, and using those tools to have a tangible business impact.

Elissa Fink is Tableau Software’s Chief Marketing Officer. With 20+ years helping companies improve their marketing operations through applied data analysis, Elissa has held executive positions in marketing, business strategy, product management, and product development.  Elissa’s also a frequent speaker and has spoken at conferences including the DMA, NCDM, PSAMA and others.

How to Use Color to Increase Conversions

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Did you know that 92.6% of people say that the visual dimension is the number one driver of their purchase decision (over other dimensions like taste and smell)? No wonder, colors have a significant impact on your website’s conversion rates.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about why and how colors affect conversions. You’ll also find some great tips for using color on your website!


Ruining the Online Shopping Experience: Three Common Mistakes

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E-commerce sales are steadily rising; a recent Marketing Land article notes that “a majority of retailers” experienced double-digit growth to online sales volume in 2014, with 74 percent saying they climbed 10 percent or more compared to the year before. But it’s not all wine and roses: According to Retail Customer Experience, just 27 percent of U.S. consumers say they shop online weekly, and while 68 percent have browsed in-store to buy online, this “showrooming” is actually more prevalent in the other direction, with 73 percent browsing online and then buying in-store.

What’s the bottom line? Despite massive potential in the e-commerce market, companies aren’t doing a good enough job when it comes to customer experience. Here are the top three ways they’re ruining the online shopping experience — and how to fix them.

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Fire and Forget 

What is one of the quickest ways to turn off potential customers? Stuff their inbox with spam emails and then forget they exist. Seems impossible in a technology market full of data-driven insight and powerful mobile devices, but many companies eager to make a break in the e-commerce space are tempted to rapid-fire emails at every address that signs up, in hopes of landing just one loyal customer. Here’s why it won’t work:

A recent Venture Beat article talks about the problem of spam, and more specifically, the problem of trust that e-commerce vendors encounter frequently. With so many brands vying for customer attention, it’s easy to be the loudest, brashest one on the virtual block. However, in many cases this causes the opposite reaction intended — consumers simply opt out. Now, brands must find success “rooted in authentic voice and restoration of consumer trust.” In other words, if you want to make a lasting, emotional connection, content is king.

The other problem with spam? It often goes hand-in-hand with an online experience best described as “forgettable.” This happens when companies spend too much on marketing but not enough on personalizing the consumer experience. Even after a single purchase, customers expect that payment preferences and transaction histories will be remembered. There’s also growing demand for more personalized, curated content when shopping online, much like having a dedicated sales person in store. Avoiding the problem of fire and forget is simple: Flip the equation. Spend more time managing the customer experience and less time messaging.

Limited Access 

According to a recent consumer survey from Information Age, it’s no longer enough to simply have an e-commerce website or great brand recognition: If your site doesn’t load quickly and offer the same access on mobile as desktop computers, you’re driving away customers. According to the survey, only 37 percent said they feel like they receive the best overall experience online. Major complaints include sites that don’t have the same features on mobile — such as search or even proper image formatting — or that don’t load quickly.

It gets worse: 76 percent of companies say they learn about these kind of problems when customers call to complain. There’s a double-whammy here: First, brands should never rely on shoppers for tech support and more importantly for every consumer that decided to call in, it’s a safe bet that two or three simply found another e-commerce vendor.

The fix here? Invest in design and support — make sure your site runs smoothly across devices.

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Wrong Cart, Wrong Content

Want to see a frustrated shopper? Make it impossible for them to find what they want, and if by some miracle they track down the right product, make the checkout experience a nightmare. According to, these are two of the worst missteps an online retailer can make; unfortunately, they’re all too common.

When it comes to carts, never pick the first one you see. Take advantage of any free trials offered and find out which one best suits your needs. You’re looking for three things here: Ease of use at an admin level for making changes, running sales and adding new features, ease of use and security for consumer, and solid tech support when required. Any cart that doesn’t have all three isn’t worth your time.

You also need to be careful when it comes to web content, specifically product descriptions. Too many companies copy/paste the descriptions of popular products directly from the manufacturer’s website, but that’s not what consumers want: They’re looking for your take on the item, a sense that you’ve tried it, reviewed it and found it worth selling. In effect, this content is a way to give customers insight when it comes to your brand and your message. Make sure you’re sending the right one.

Big three mistakes in the e-commerce customer experience? Treating customers like numbers, poor optimization, and skimping on cart and content. Fix what’s broken, and you’ll stand out in the crowd.

Scott Taback is the Vice President of Business Development at Highland Solutions, and has extensive knowledge of consulting and enterprise solutions services such as CRM, business development, sales, marketing automation and systems integration.  Highland Solutions is one of Chicagoland’s best resources to clients in the areas of consulting and enterprise solutions, specifically in regard to customer experience solutions.