Data Utilization Maturity

“Big Data” is an ambiguous term. Sometimes it refers to data volume, sometimes to data variety, and sometimes to data velocity. All organizations have data collection challenges on at least one of these fronts if not more. But even where these challenges are being overcome through technology, the next challenge is in advancing the use of that data for marketing beyond the “Descriptive” level of data utilization.

DataApplication

Most digital marketing organizations with “Analytics” functions are really only focused on descriptive performance analytics, and hopefully also to some extent the diagnostics that explain performance. More advanced digital marketing teams have managed to pass along their data to market research and consumer insights teams to have digital data included in consumer research, insights and segmentation work. Continue reading

Social Media Intervention for Engagement and Intelligence

Event-related communication has always been at the heart of social media, from Twitter’s debut at SXSW in 2007 to the everyday sharing of check-ins, meals and parties in Foursquare and Facebook, to Oreo’s big marketing win with a single tweet during the 2013 Superbowl.

As my colleague Daniel Honigman pointed out to me today, for brands trying to gain attention through social media, simply being event-driven does not ensure engagement. Daniel noted the social media efforts around the 2013 Oscars as an example of event-based communications that underperformed expectations because although they were clever, they were also contrived and (unlike Oreo’s superbowl message) not naturally related to the actual unfolding of the event.

So relevance and timeliness are the required characteristics for successful social media engagement, both in the proactive publicity-seeking outreach mentioned above, and in the other common form of social media communication: crisis response. Continue reading

Overlapping Disciplines for Digital Marketing

I frequently use this space to write about the dangers and downfalls of organizational silos. As we move into 2013, I thought it might be useful to share a visualization of at least one way that digital marketing organizations could more effectively be structured to deliver against the multiple considerations required for effective digital experience delivery.

At the center of this structure are the drivers of digital marketing: consumer behaviors, organizational operations, consumer attitudes, the competitive landscape and organizational objectives. The order given in this diagram is indicative of influences across these drivers; corporate operations shape consumer attitudes, attitudes shape the competitive landscape, competition shapes objectives, and objectives determine the types of experiences consumers may have with a company, and thus shape behavior. And of course, behaviors (i.e leads, purchases, referrals, complaints) determines the resources with which a company can operate – closing the loop.

The next circle out shows the disciplines that a digital marketing organization can use to understand what’s happening in the inner circle; the Analytics and Research disciplines. Research is the older and more established marketing discipline, helping to align organizational operations and objectives (i.e. through marketing mix modeling), evaluating attitudes through panels, surveys and focus groups, and evaluating the competitive landscape through survey and 3rd party data sources. Continue reading

Strategy and Tactics: A Mutual Exclusion Fallacy

Going about the work of digital marketing, I frequently hear a common theme from clients and colleagues; “I/we don’t want to be stuck doing tactical work. I/we want to do more strategic stuff”.

Being the “strategic partner” or the “strategy guru” setting direction and vision at 10,000 feet is what everyone seems to define as more important work, while the “in the weeds” business around tactics and execution seems to be considered far less sexy.

There are many things wrong with letting this veneration of “strategy” and false distancing of strategy from “tactics” take over your personal or organizational thinking.

The simple fact is that sound strategy depends on having good information, and information or data gathering is a tactical endeavor. Even more importantly, strategy that provides a unique competitive advantage only comes from having information that your competitors don’t have. Finally, even the best strategy means nothing without capabilities and effective execution. Thus strategy that doesn’t also consider tactics and logistics is useless in practical terms. Continue reading

Organizational Politics, Digital Marketing, and the Optimization of Sub-optimal Strategies

This post appeared originally on February 22, 2012 in the iMediaConnection blog.

Biased cultures of digital marketing testing in organizations exist because of risk-aversion in the management culture. In such environments, managers see little gain in expending political capital to try testing digital approaches that might not work, even if they also might work. This is especially true when they are rewarded for efforts to fine-tune what is already working.

In these cultures, digital marketers will test variations of demand generation approaches to attract more of the segments they’ve pre-determined as “qualified” consumers based on their similarity to past consumers. They will test variations of marketing pages to drive these same consumers into a purchase funnel. And they will test variations of purchase funnels to tweak conversion rates by a few points of a percent. Continue reading

Facebook versus Semantic Web

One Step Forward, One Step Back
From my standpoint as a marketing science data junkie, the Facebook changes announced at F8, while very cool from my perspective as a user, ultimately amounted to no change at all in my role as a data analyst. While personally I am already enjoying the new design and sharing elements, when I put on my marketing hat, I can only be disappointed that in their version of the “open graph”, Facebook remains the only party with full insight into any users’ integrated history, and the exchanges across the social graph created by its users.

What did not change with the redesign is that Facebook’s business is still built on targeted marketing. Its expansion of interest signaling from just “liking” to now any verb will certainly improve Facebook’s ability to target based on unique and shared interests. Every business on Facebook would benefit from an understanding of their consumers’ shared interests and key influences across their social graph, but Facebook retains a tight hold on their sole position as market-maker. Continue reading

Social Media and Marketing: Evolution Not Revolution… Part II

The first part of this blog on social media and marketing arrived at the observation that questioning the value of social media to your business is fine, but not bothering to look for an answer will be deadly.

Most businesses now understand that they cannot chose to ignore the question of how engagement in social media can benefit their business, so the search for an answer as to how this will work for them is now underway at most firms. Continue reading

A Brief History of Social Media Measurement, and a Prescription for Web Analytics

The Challenge
Common sense asserts a wealth of marketing opportunity residing in the correct analysis of consumers’ publicly shared (and digitally documented) interests and interactions. However, there are significant challenges in separating valid information from noise, then structuring that valid data to draw actionable insights with the same level of confidence that businesses expect from their market research, web analytics insights, and other Business Intelligence functions.

The first generations of social media measurement and analysis have addressed these challenges as best they could. To advance beyond pseudo-science into the realm of truly actionable business analytics, the next generation of analysis will need to draw from the established standards and best-practices of organizations’ existing analytics functions such as web analytics, with established competency in building data-driven management practices from digital analytics. Continue reading

Architecting Better Data-driven Digital