Treat Yo Self: Bound Celebrates “Plan A Solo Vacation Day”

Here at Bound, it’s fair to say that we’re pretty obsessed with travel – we can’t get enough of working with DMOs to ensure their web visitors have the personalized information they need to plan the best trip possible.  But this also comes with its own challenges, mainly that we’re constantly daydreaming about our next… Read More

The post Treat Yo Self: Bound Celebrates “Plan A Solo Vacation Day” appeared first on Bound.

Here at Bound, it’s fair to say that we’re pretty obsessed with travel – we can’t get enough of working with DMOs to ensure their web visitors have the personalized information they need to plan the best trip possible.  But this also comes with its own challenges, mainly that we’re constantly daydreaming about our next vacations.  In honor of “Plan A Solo Vacation Day” on March 1st, we’re excited to share our own solo vacations, both ones we’ve already enjoyed and those we’re still planning!

Cameron: Seattle, Washington

As much as Cameron enjoys solo trips to the PNW, he also enjoys trips with his fiancé!

I reached out to a close friend who moved to Washington that I hadn’t seen in years. Conversation led to his plans to plan a weekend in Seattle to watch San Antonio FC’s (Football Club re: Soccer) first televised game and catch a Seattle Sounders game. Sounded like an incredibly fun weekend and he mentioned if I had the money and the time I should try to come up and join them in Seattle. This was the first trip I would ever plan solely by myself and I was terrified. I didn’t know where to look for flights or how to book lodging or even really what steps were necessary to get to Seattle. I reached out to friends who I knew traveled often for advice and researched hard online for what to expect. This knowledge really helped calm me down and the trip was a truly enjoyable experience, basically a 3-day adult sleepover in Seattle. We spent an entire day in the Museum of Pop Culture, which is an incredible place I cannot recommend highly enough. We roamed through local urban breweries in preparation for the Sounders game in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. The entire experience was wonderful and being 100% responsible for my travel plans taught me the #1 rule of all travel, especially solo travel: Don’t Panic.

Jared: Month long road trip from San Francisco to NYC

Jared staring out longingly at the beautiful scenery on his trip.

I didn’t enjoy my job or living in Indianapolis, so I resigned and decided to check out SF as it was on my list of places to live and ended up road tripping for a month. I only stayed in hotels 3 nights out of the month, one of which was a Motel 1 in Albuquerque run by vampires, lost my debit card in Arkansas, won $700 playing roulette in Tunica, and couldn’t decide if I should buy a churro or a kitten from a vendor selling both on the subway in NYC to celebrate my 25th birthday. Austin wasn’t even on my radar but friends and random people in San Diego, Phoenix, and Moab said I had to check it out. I ended up moving and stayed for almost 10 years before moving to San Diego to be closer to family.

Jessica: Austin, Texas

Jessica also treated herself to some new shades for her solo vacation – she was super excited.

I had been working in the DC area for a few years when the opportunity to relocate to Austin came up. I had never been to Texas and wanted to check it out before making a decision. I had an upcoming family vacation to Vegas, so I extended my time off by a few days to then head over to Austin by myself. I arrived in Austin in August in the blazing heat, which honestly I was okay with because I hate being cold and DC had been having a lot of dreary, rainy days. My main questions when I landed were centered around food, shopping, and was it easier to navigate than DC. I spent two days making my way from one corner of the sprawling city to another, checking out shopping areas, eating at whatever random spot I found, and driving all the main roads. I loved how Austin didn’t feel like a big city, and despite doing no research beforehand every single place I stopped to eat was delicious. There were gorgeous views and I could not get enough of the warmth, spending several hours either at the pool or chilling at a porch bar. I left Austin happy, refreshed, and ready to move. In retrospect though I would do more pre-trip planning for my next solo vacation, as I somehow managed to miss all the restaurants that are now my Austin favorites.

Ali: Reykjavik, Iceland

So cold, but so so happy at one of South Iceland’s bazillion waterfalls.

I visited Iceland several years ago with a good friend and it was truly as magical as I had been told. I’ve been daydreaming about a return trip from the moment I left! We spent the week exploring the truly epic scenery of black sand beaches, swimming pools tucked into mountains and icy glaciers – there was something intimately peaceful about how small the landscape made you feel. We enjoyed adventuring hiking trails with instructions such as, “if you feel like you’re going to the wrong way, then you’re actually going the right way.” But my favorite moments may have been enjoying Reykjavik as a local might: spending time reading in coffee shops, digging through treasures at a city-wide flea market, wandering through the many book stores and main library (at the time, Iceland had the most authors per capita and most books read per capita!) and enjoying a live jazz quartet at Harpa, the gorgeous concert hall with views of both mountains and ocean. If I plan a solo trip, I imagine my itinerary would be much the same – my hardest choice would be agonizing over just how many books to pack with me!

Adriana: Bali, Indonesia

Adriana can’t WAIT to insert herself into all things Bali.

Full disclosure, I haven’t been on a solo vacation yet. In the past, I’ve preferred traveling with small groups or with just one other person so I can enjoy the experience with others. That said, I absolutely see the appeal and am considering adding a solo vacation to my yearly bucket list. One trip I’ve wanted to take for a while is to Bali, Indonesia. It seems to have a little of everything- beaches, great food, cultural hot spots, and friendly people. I would probably try to stay for a week or two and visit a few temples between beach excursions. Plus, as someone who eats mostly vegetarian, the growing number of veggie-friendly options is definitely a plus!


We hope you’re inspired to plan your own solo vacation – wherever this year takes you, we hope it will be fun, safe and a time to treat yo self! We’d love to chat with you more if you have any recommendations for solo trip planning or questions about how to personalize for solo travelers.

The post Treat Yo Self: Bound Celebrates “Plan A Solo Vacation Day” appeared first on Bound.

Comprehensive Guide to Website Usability Testing (With Tools and Software to Help)

We share the 3-step process for the website usability testing we recommend to our customers, plus the tools to pull actionable insights out of the process.
The post Comprehensive Guide to Website Usability Testing (With Tools and Software to Help) appe…

Comprehensive Guide to Website Usability Testing (With Tools and Software to Help)

We share the 3-step process for the website usability testing we recommend to our customers, plus the tools to pull actionable insights out of the process.

The post Comprehensive Guide to Website Usability Testing (With Tools and Software to Help) appeared first on The Daily Egg.

How Banking Marketers Can Deliver the Total Customer Experience

Each year, Merkle refines and updates its Marketing Imperatives; they are a distillation of our learning, vision, and experience with clients from many different verticals. The 2020 Imperatives are truly forward-looking and encourage a fresh look at ho…

Each year, Merkle refines and updates its Marketing Imperatives; they are a distillation of our learning, vision, and experience with clients from many different verticals. The 2020 Imperatives are truly forward-looking and encourage a fresh look at how you should plan and execute your marketing with an emphasis on personalization – this is especially true for those in Banking and Financial Services.  

Our 2020 Imperatives encompass the following:

1. Deliver the total customer experience – Marketing now is responsible for growth and must stretch its purview to include ownership of customer data and the overall customer experience. This can’t be achieved without a clear connection to all customer-related business functions: sales, service, finance, logistics, product, channel, etc.

2. Take ownership of identity – Brands have a common vision of right time, place, person, and message delivered in real-time across the customer journey, while also providing more effective, hyper-personalized service and commerce. This vision is only as good as a company’s ability to know who it is really talking to at every touchpoint.

3. Enable agility through strategic sourcing – Calibrating the marketing resource mix is no longer solely about cost. It is also driven by more strategic priorities, including agility, accountability, and innovation. This is not an either/or decision between bringing everything in-house or relying exclusively on external partners.

Where to Start

While all three imperatives have big implications for marketers in banking, achieving the first imperative requires a new mindset, approach, and vison. It requires buy-in from across the organization to execute, and it requires marketers to take ownership of two key dimensions: data and customer experience.

Today, many banks’ data live in disparate silos driven by product, legacy systems, and third-party relationships. The timeliness with which marketing can access that data has traditionally varied – with some data not accessible at all for marketing purposes. If marketers want to own customer experience, they must understand the full customer and all interactions with the brand. Connected data can create a 360-degree view of the customer that informs things like decision-making across channel, site and mobile experience, next-best-offer, and much more.

For example, many banks’ payment card transaction data is out of marketing’s reach due to third-party relationships. Think about how that rich data can give unique insights into customer needs and could be used to understand and communicate with customers.  Models and AI-driven analysis could identify certain purchases that indicate future needs like a wedding, home improvement, or college tuition – all of which could drive needs-based dialogues and product offers for personal loans, home equity line of credit, or student loans. 

While bringing together disparate data sources into a centralized database is not a small undertaking, marketers needs to drive the conversation and initiative by building the business case and advocating across the organization.

How it’s Done

Access to the data and the ability to activate against it in a seamless, coherent way are two different things. In banking, marketing has traditionally owned the outbound customer contact, while servicing and the branch network owned face-to-face interactions. While some coordination has existed, this has often led to a disconnect in how customers experience the brand. We are suggesting a paradigm shift that gives marketing ownership of the total customer experience. Although branches and operational teams may live outside of marketing, marketers cannot afford to abdicate responsibility for key points of customer interaction. Offers, messaging, and priorities need to be aligned whether the customer clicks, calls, or visits a branch. Customer journey planning should consider how a customer can move from offline to online to open a new product. Branch staffs should be aligned with marketing offers and messaging and support next-best-actions as defined for each customer. 

Achieving this is not simple and it takes commitment – not only from marketing leadership, but also from the CEO and the rest of the C-suite. It means a new focus on customer lifetime value instead of siloed product-level P&Ls. As we share in the Imperatives implementing this change means…

“…breaking down the internal silos…and prioritizing the experience of the customer across your different internal teams. It means aligning corporate goals and business objectives through a new set of key performance indicators that are based on building deeper customer relationships.”

We have numerous banking clients on this transformational journey – and we see differing approaches to how customer centricity gets implemented. Approaches include:

  • Naming experience officers and managers who advocate across the bank
  • Reorganizing teams around the customer lifecycle rather than products
  • Reorienting results reporting to drive a common understanding of progress against KPIs like customer lifetime value. 

Regardless of how and organization pursues driving customer centricity, because of Marketing’s unique skillset in storytelling and its understanding of the customer, Marketing must be the leader in a bank-wide conversation about how to build a cohesive customer experience across all bank touchpoints.

Want to learn more? Download Merkle’s 2020 Marketing Imperatives here.

A Deep Dive into Behavioral Targeting

Let’s imagine you’re a personalization marketer and thanks to Bound you’ve really been flexing your marketing chops. You’ve successfully set up targeting for all your geographic markets. You’re speaking to your Fly Markets and Drive Markets. You’re even personalizing to that one city in Germany that keeps reading your blog posts (Hello, Frankfurt!). You know… Read More

The post A Deep Dive into Behavioral Targeting appeared first on Bound.

Let’s imagine you’re a personalization marketer and thanks to Bound you’ve really been flexing your marketing chops. You’ve successfully set up targeting for all your geographic markets. You’re speaking to your Fly Markets and Drive Markets. You’re even personalizing to that one city in Germany that keeps reading your blog posts (Hello, Frankfurt!). You know exactly who to speak to on your website and how to speak to them. 

And that’s fantastic! Geographic targeting is a great way to personalize to your website visitors because it’s relatively easy to enable and can be highly effective. But, geographic targeting is also like hanging out in the shallow end of an Olympic-size pool. You’re going to have a good time in that shallow end, but there’s an entire pool of other opportunities to explore! And that next deeper level of segmentation is Behavioral Targeting. 

Behavioral Targeting is essentially speaking to a visitor based on their interactions with your site. Instead of targeting broadly based on a visitor’s location in the world, you’re instead targeting based on what pages they are visiting or how many times they have visited the site. It’s an expansive way to categorize audiences so it may seem daunting at first. But, with the help of your trusty personalization expert, you can easily add behavioral targeting to your personalization toolbelt. 

So, get your swim caps and floaties on, we’re diving into our favorite ways to target your on-site visitors based on behavior!

Current URL

We’ll start with segmenting based on the page a visitor is on. Targeting based on a visitor’s current URL is a natural next step after personalizing based on Geographic location. This type of segmentation involves targeting a visitor when they are on a specific URL (i.e. the homepage) or when that visitor is on a page within a set of URLs (i.e. the visitor is currently on a page that contains /blog). Often times, this brand of behavioral segmentation is dismissed as being too simplistic, but in practice, it can be highly effective.

For Example:

Imagine you have an especially tantalizing blog written about a new outdoor park in town. This would be a perfect piece of content to get in front of everyone interested in the Adventure or Outdoors area of your website. Ah-Ha! Let’s set up a fly-in to serve to every person currently on your site’s ‘Outdoors’ page to make all visitors interested in that subject aware of this wonderful resource in your city! 

Previous URL

Similar to the above targeting strategy, you can also set up personalization based on pages that a visitor has been to in the past. If a visitor returns repeatedly to a specific page or set of pages, that’s a pretty clear indication that they are interested in content of a specific nature. The most strategic personalization would be to show them related content or to offer a conversion point related to their engagement with those interest based pages once they have left those pages.

For Example:

If a visitor has gone to the dining pages on your site 2+ times they are either A) hungry or B) a ‘foodie’ (or both!) . If you’d like them to digest (pun!) the food and drink content on site without interference, you may not want to target them on a food focused page. However, if they leave the food focused area of the site and you have more related content, like a restaurant deal or a special Dining Guide, it would be fantastic practice to target them on other pages with content you know they will find interesting. Bring on that creative cuisine content!

Number of Visits 

We’ve written a blog post or two on how to speak to your repeat visitors. That’s because speaking to repeat visitors is a super effective way to target people you know are interested in your destination. Repeat visitors have seen your site and virtually said, “I should visit this site again!” What a compliment- They like you, they really like you! The trick to getting those repeat visitors to come back for more is figuring out how to show new content to keep those visitors engaged.

For Example:

Within the realm of targeting repeat visitors, there’s a ton of strategic possibilities. One of my favorite ways to target repeat visitors is to set up a waterfall system of targeting based on what visit a person is on (i.e. first, second, third, fiftieth visit??). In practice, this could look as simple as targeting a ‘first-time visitor’ with a Fly-In that promotes the Visitor Guide conversion. Then on a visitor’s 2nd visit, serving a fly-in that promotes a eNewsletter conversion. On a 3rd visit, you could serve a fly-in asking for a survey completion. This gives a repeat visitor something new to do every time they engage with your site and will keep those visitors coming back for more. Of course, this is not limited to conversion centric fly-ins. You could similarly target a repeat visitor with new blog posts or perhaps send them straight to an events page. The strategy will be dependent on your visitors and dependent on your site. 

Goal Completions

A visitor comes to your site and after a few minutes browsing, decides to download a Visitor Guide. Woo-hoo! Start the Parade! Throw the confetti! But now what? Do you want that visitor to leave the site? Chances are you want to keep them around. And you may even have more conversions that you’d like them to complete. Targeting based on Goal Completions allows you to lead a visitor down a predetermined nurture path, consistently giving that visitor a new asset to download or a new form to fill out. This is when targeting based on goal completions truly enters your segmentation strategy. 

For Example:

If a person has downloaded your visitor guide, you may segment them into a group of visitors that has already converted on that specific goal. With this information you can assume that this visitor is highly engaged, after all, they just downloaded something from your site! In theory, that visitor would be a fantastic person to serve an eNewsletter prompt. Since they’ve already converted on the Visitor Guide, you want to push them further down your nurture path and personalize content to them which promotes the next step on their journey into your website. 

The 4 Behavioral Targeting strategies listed above skim the surface of potential ways to speak to your online audiences but in this Olympic pool of personalization, there’s even more you can do! If you want to keep swimming deeper and deeper, reach out to a member of the Bound team or your designated swim instructor (CSM) to learn more! 

The post A Deep Dive into Behavioral Targeting appeared first on Bound.

3 CRM Insights from Merkle’s Q1 2020 Customer Engagement Report

We are excited to announce the release of our new Customer Engagement Report for Q1 2020! This report highlights the trends happening in the CRM world – from data and marketing technology to loyalty and customer experience.

In this quarter’s issue, we…

We are excited to announce the release of our new Customer Engagement Report for Q1 2020! This report highlights the trends happening in the CRM world - from data and marketing technology to loyalty and customer experience.

In this quarter’s issue, we dig deeper into marketers’ data usage as reported last quarter, setting out to find the barriers to “great” personalization (the common denominator is identity). With forty-nine percent of marketers spending more than twenty percent of their martech budget on identity solutions, we expect to see continued improvement in organizations’ ability to identify customers in the future. We also discuss measurement and how it can help us better understand and optimize the customer experience. Below, are a few highlights from our report that you should keep an eye on:

1. Only 54% of Marketers Have Clear KPIs

Chart 1

Marketers can also explore their measurement effectiveness by looking at how stakeholders are aligned on their program’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Just fifty-four percent of marketers have clear definitions for each metric, while sixty-three percent say their teams work together to align on a core set of KPIs. Here, we see room for refinement and growth.

2. Percent of Marketing Spend Allocated to Identity

Chart 2

Today, marketers are recognizing the value of identity and have dedicated a substantial amount of their budgets to identity solutions, with twenty percent or respondents allocating more than twenty-five percent of marketing budgets to identity. Understandably, many of the investments are related to the traditional processing of names and addresses, and to digital onboarding. While this is important, it only represents part of the picture; a large part of the identity strategy needs to be dedicated to aligning investments.

3. Measuring the Effectiveness of Customer Communications

Chart 3

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, respondents report a strong reliance on engagement metrics. Seventy-one percent of respondents say engagement is key here, yet just forty percent indicate multi-touch attribution as a tactic employed.

Want to learn more? Check out Merkle’s Q1 2020 Customer Engagement Report here for even more insights.

Neuromarketing Ethics: How Far Is Too Far?

As the marketing industry developed, researchers dove deeper into buying behavior and buyers’ minds. One early researcher was Edward Bernays—Sigmund Freud’s nephew—who coined the term “public relations.” Bernays believed that people could be influenced via crowd psychology and psychoanalysis. His “Torches of Freedom” campaign in the 1920s promoted smoking among women as a symbol of […]

The post Neuromarketing Ethics: How Far Is Too Far? appeared first on CXL.

As the marketing industry developed, researchers dove deeper into buying behavior and buyers’ minds. One early researcher was Edward Bernays—Sigmund Freud’s nephew—who coined the term “public relations.”

Bernays believed that people could be influenced via crowd psychology and psychoanalysis. His “Torches of Freedom” campaign in the 1920s promoted smoking among women as a symbol of liberation, opening a new market to cigarette companies.

Decades later, in 2002, Dutch marketing professor Ale Smidts coined the term “neuromarketing.” Neuromarketing maps neural activity to consumer behavior to help marketers craft more valuable, science-based campaigns. 

It focuses on the why and how of our decision-making, much of it unconscious, and offers a more direct view of the consumer’s “black box.” Neuromarketing has been defined as the third dimension of marketing research, along with qualitative and quantitative research.

Because neuromarketing often targets unconscious processes, it raises a number of concerns:

  • Is neuromarketing manipulation?
  • How far can subliminal marketing go?
  • Who is responsible for sharing and using sensitive findings?
  • Where do you draw the line between what data to use and not use?
  • What remains private?

Some of these ethical questions aren’t new. But neuromarketing’s potential power has made them increasingly relevant.

Why neuromarketing is so powerful

Neuroimaging techniques measure processes such as decision-making, reward processing, memory, attention, approach and withdrawal motivation, and emotional processing, all by means of specific brain-area activations.

That data isn’t available via traditional marketing research methods, whose efficacy relies on the accuracy of consumers’ stated reasons. That’s a major limitation.

We’re bad at predicting our own behavior.

“There is a very long history within psychology of people not being very good judges of what they will actually do in a future situation,” says Matthew Lieberman, a UCLA professor of psychology.

Lieberman studied the brain activity of people who watched public-service announcements about the importance of wearing sunscreen. The subjects were then asked how likely they were to use it. The researchers even gave them sunscreen to ensure they had access to it.

sunscreen on hands.

Meanwhile, neuroscientists compared subjects’ brain activity to their own predictions. A week later, it was time for measurement. About half the subjects had accurately predicted their behavior. The researchers’ model was accurate 75% of the time.

Neuroscience can also detect subtle emotional impacts. For example, using fMRI scans, researchers concluded that attractive ads activate the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the ventral striatum, which are responsible for emotions in the decision-making process and the cognition of rewards.

In another study, neuroscientists at UCLA scanned the brains of people watching Super Bowl commercials. A Doritos ad stimulated empathy and connection, while other commercials provoked fear or anxiety.

Nationwide Insurance’s ad, which featured Kevin Federline as a failed rap star stuck in a job in a fast-food restaurant, generated anxiety and feelings of insecurity—not the goal of the advertiser, even though the multi-million dollar spot was surely “focus grouped” before getting approval.

Some advance neuromarketing research probably would have saved Nationwide tons of money.

Neuromarketing delivers access to the subconscious.

Until recently, researchers relied on buyers’ abilities to report how they felt about a particular marketing message (via surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc.). This assumed that people were able to describe and predict their own cognitive processes—a dangerous assumption illustrated by the sunscreen study. 

Brain responses offer more objective insights into consumer behavior. Those insights can reduce risks for new product launches or major changes that could define a brand. At a tactical level, companies can improve their customer segmentation and personalize marketing and sales experiences.

For example, by using high-res EEG headsets and eye trackers on Polish and Dutch IKEA customers, researchers learned about consumer reactions to green business strategies, which helped identify which business models customers were likely to accept, never accept, or accept in a few years.

ikea's sustainable platform.

IKEA now has a home solar offering that enables customers to generate their own renewable energy; it also shifted to renewable plastics and offers sustainable, healthy food in its restaurants.

Neuromarketing has the potential to reveal much more.

The potential impact of neuromarketing is only increasing.

In a study, Finnish researchers created a virtual customer journey model by studying customer engagement through brain scans. 

The researchers created a virtual store with 2D and 3D shopping experiences that simulated reality. Test consumers within the virtual store could interact with store merchandise and make purchase decisions in a way that resembled real in-store behavior. 

virtual reality store tested with neuroscience.
A virtual reality walkthrough of a hypothetical bank layout. (Image source)

While test subjects were shown video clips and still pictures from a consultative sales process, their brain activation was monitored to measure engagement.

Humans have mirror-neurons related to empathy and imitation that help us relate to people or behavior we see, even in a virtual environment. (Did you ever cry at a movie? Blame it on the mirror-neurons.)

The analysis showed heightened activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, meaning that increased feelings of safety had a positive effect on individuals’ willingness to buy. The research can help companies build appealing shopping environments, plan sales processes, and develop marketing materials.

But while the potential to pair neuroscience, virtual reality, and marketing may be tantalizing, neuromarketing has limitations—and critics.

The limitations of neuromarketing

Brain scans in a controlled environment aren’t the “real world.”

A big disadvantage of fMRI is that it doesn’t give you “live” images. Consumers might behave differently in the real world, unlike in a controlled environment. Researchers might end up with a response bias—subjects are aware that they’re being analyzed, which may affect their behavior.

Also, inside the lab, many variables are controlled; in the real world, we can’t control those same variables—or the resulting behavior. Lab-derived conclusions may not hold up elsewhere, especially when experiments rely on small sample sizes.

Finally, claims that tie specific brain regions to mental functions may be exaggerated. Our brains are complex, and why test subjects feel arousal, pain, fear, or other emotions is unknown.

Research is done with small sample sizes.

Remember the case study with the Super Bowl commercials? It used 10 subjects. To create the virtual customer journey, the study recruited 16 subjects.

Those small sample sizes, researchers argue, translate to low statistical power and a reduced ability to detect a true effect. They may also overestimate effect size and lower the replicability of results.

Unreliable methods surface ethical concerns about the publication of suspect research. 

Research standards remain unclear.

According to Dan Ariely and Gregory Berns, there are no legal requirements for neuromarketing studies to protect test subjects. As researchers caution, that fact

stress[es] the need for more intense and precise training of the subjects taking part in neuromarketing experiments. Thus, companies can prevent the onset of anxiety, fear or cognitive inhibition among respondents.

Some studies might also reveal incidental findings, but researchers don’t know how to handle them—there are no reporting requirements. If an abnormality is detected, who should communicate that information? And to whom? 

Those concerns spill over into privacy concerns, too:

The use of data obtained from brain imaging poses ethical dilemmas for marketers, as some marketers seek to limit our understanding of their true intentions and some activity lack transparency. Potential moral issues emerging from neuroscience applications include awareness, consent and understanding of individuals consumers to what may be viewed as invasion of their privacy rights.

Questions persist:

  • Who owns brain scans? 
  • Who has access to the data? 
  • How is the data being used? 
  • Which measures are to be taken to ensure interpretation and confidentiality?

These aren’t hypothetical concerns. In 2012, Facebook experimented on 700,000 users without their consent when analyzing mood states.

In Mexico’s 2015 elections, citizens’ responses to the governing party ads were often recorded without their knowledge. (The party leader said they would stop hiring neuroscience consultants to register voters’ brain waves and read their facial expressions.)

Even if those issues are solved, ethical concerns remain.

The fine line between persuasion and manipulation   

Is neuromarketing capable of subverting free will and promoting compulsive buying behavior? Probably not. But it still has the potential to cross an ethical line.

James Garvey, author of The Persuaders: The Hidden Industry that Wants to Change Your Mind, argues that our ethics system hasn’t caught up with the implications of neuromarketing:

There is a question of human dignity here. Are we treating people like people with hopes and desires? Or are we treating them as things that we can manipulate based on our understanding of how brains work?

Back in 2010, Ariely and Berns cautioned that the profit motive may incentivize companies to misuse neuromarketing—encouraging them to try to cross from persuasion to manipulation.

One example is so-called “stealth neuromarketing,” which tries to manipulate consumer behavior without their being aware of its influence, threatening consumer autonomy.

Roger Dooley frames marketers’ responsibilities this way:

“roger”Roger Dooley:

“My response to the ‘manipulation’ question is always, ‘If you are being honest, and if you are helping the customer get to a better place, it’s not manipulation and it’s not unethical.’

In today’s age of enforced transparency for business, manipulative tactics that deceive the customer simply won’t work. They will be quickly exposed and, with consumer voices amplified by social media, cause far more damage to the business than any short-term benefit.”

The Neuromarketing Science and Business Association has published a code of ethics to act as guardrails for those values. Its three pillars include:

  1. Establishing public trust in neuromarketers’ integrity;
  2. Protecting the participants’ privacy;
  3. Protecting the neuromarketing service purchasers.

Other codes in the business world have similar principles: informed consent, confidentiality, privacy, etc. Even as ethics in neuromarketing continue to take shape, some boundaries are clear.

Clear boundaries: Protecting vulnerable consumers

The protection of vulnerable populations—kids, teens, and people with high debt, compulsive buying behavior, and other neurological diseases or pathological disorders—is often raised with neuromarketing. 

Children and adolescents

Children are sensitive to commercials because their neural inhibitory mechanisms are not yet mature. Advertisers could take advantage of their lack of self-control.

Of course, traditional marketing has exploited this for years—McDonald’s has long partnered with companies like Disney to serve beloved toys with nutritionally vapid Happy Meals.

disney toys at mcdonalds.
(Image source)

Neuromarketing techniques could elevate the already problematic outcomes of marketing messages to children:

  • Encouraging consumerism in children;
  • Child-parent conflicts;
  • Life dissatisfaction via promotion of a world full of beautiful people and better and nicer things;
  • Health problems due to the promotion of unhealthy products.

Researchers from Liverpool University’s appetite and obesity research group found that, in one half-hour episode of Hollyoaks (a soap opera targeting youth), more than 140,000 children were exposed to nine junk food advertisements. The very next day, during an episode of The Voice, 708,500 children watched 12 junk food ads.

The risks aren’t to young children alone. In most cases, teenagers have less control over their emotions and behavior than fully mature adults, making them vulnerable. Researchers also suggest that adolescence extends into the early 20s.

Adults aren’t immune to the subtle but powerful marketing cues neuroscience can identify either.


In a 2016 study, researchers observed that people with a high body mass index (BMI) prefer a thinly shaped bottle, even if the drink is higher in price. That implies that soda manufacturers could, for example, profit more through changes to packaging. (On the other hand, the same information could benefit healthy drinks producers.)

A 2011 study suggested that the brains of obese people respond differently to nutrition labels. When given an identical milkshake, they showed more brain activity in reward areas if the label read “regular” compared to “low-fat.”

Would obese people also respond differently to color, image, smell, or touch? And if marketers had answers to these questions, how would they use the data?

In another study, researchers found that areas of fMRI scans correlated with compulsive buying. Being presented with a product and its price resulted in higher striatal activation in compulsive buyers compared to non-compulsive buyers.

The implication is clear: If sellers learn which marketing messages hyperstimulate those areas, they could override the better judgment of buyers.

Many of these concerns, though amplified, aren’t new. 

It’s not as though traditional marketing is immune to manipulation

Take a look at these burger ads—the promise versus the reality.

hamburger portrayal vs. reality.
(Image source

And, if we’re looking at who’s sponsoring national health organizations, we see Nestle, Coca-Cola—ethical conflicts abound. 

sponsorship of government nutritional panels by unhealthy food producers.

Neuromarketing isn’t the only way to gain tacit influence over consumer behavior (or government policy). Plenty of marketing strategies (many would argue most) target our subconscious

Neuromarketing just may be a whole lot better at doing it.


In 2017, neuromarketing pioneer Gemma Calvert claimed that “Online neuromarketing will be the industry standard for testing ad campaigns, prototypes, and packaging designs within five years.”

That seems unlikely, but neuromarketing isn’t going away. And the privacy debates surrounding online advertising suggest that technology will keep outpacing regulation. Ethical issues with neuromarketing will continue to surface; they may become more pressing. 

Here’s what won’t change: Deceptive marketing tactics and promises not delivered won’t build, as Dooley rightly notes, a sustainable business. Plan accordingly.

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See how agencies are putting data-driven marketing to work

Companies looking to remain competitive must now find ways to address consumers as unique individuals with highly specific, personal preferences.

The post See how agencies are putting data-driven marketing to work appeared first on Marketing Land.

By gathering rich, relevant data on consumer behavior and demographics, businesses can target their leads and customers on a far more personal level, optimizing their engagement rates while ensuring a positive brand experience.

But delivering on this data-driven expectation can present a number of challenges – particularly for digital agencies, whose clients are throwing unprecedented amounts of data in their direction.

In an effort to find out how agencies are overcoming some of these obstacles, SharpSpring partnered with Ascend2 to field the Data-Driven Marketing Trends Survey. This paper draws on those results to offer an in-depth view of the challenges involved in successful data-driven marketing as well as the many ways in which agencies are helping their clients stay ahead of the curve.

Visit Digital Marketing Depot to download Data-Driven Marketing: Let Your Data Take the Wheel.”

The post See how agencies are putting data-driven marketing to work appeared first on Marketing Land.

Google Analytics vs. Google Analytics 360 (Based on a Decade of Implementations)

For companies that build their analytics on Google products, purchasing Google Analytics 360 is a symbol of maturity.  As a business grows, it inevitably runs up against limitations of analytics tools. For example, while the data aggregation process in Google Analytics seems like a “normal” feature, it might be a hurdle if your business needs […]

The post Google Analytics vs. Google Analytics 360 (Based on a Decade of Implementations) appeared first on CXL.

For companies that build their analytics on Google products, purchasing Google Analytics 360 is a symbol of maturity. 

As a business grows, it inevitably runs up against limitations of analytics tools. For example, while the data aggregation process in Google Analytics seems like a “normal” feature, it might be a hurdle if your business needs to process data at the hit level instead of by sessions or campaigns.

It’s one of many potential business needs that could affect your decision to upgrade to a Google Analytics 360 license. But is it worth the serious investment?

If you’ve spent hours calculating your expected ROI for Google Analytics 360 and still don’t know, this article is for you. We’ll run through a feature-by-feature comparison of Google Analytics and its paid counterpart, Google Analytics 360.

Then, we’ll break down other factors to help you figure out if you should fork over the cash. 

13 key features of Google Analytics and Google Analytics 360

What follows isn’t an exhaustive list of feature differences; they are, however, those that we’ve seen have the biggest influence on a buy-or-don’t-buy decision for Google Analytics 360.

We’ve broken them down into three categories:

  • Data collection;
  • Customization;
  • Integrations and data import/export.

A. Data collection

When upgrading to Google Analytics 360, you don’t need to retag your pages. Your hits will continue to be collected via existing Google Analytics tags.

You will experience, however, plenty of other changes.

1. Service-level agreement

A main difference between the free and paid versions of Google Analytics is that the paid version, Google Analytics 360, has service-level agreement (SLA) obligations, guaranteeing 99.9% uptime, support, and data freshness.

The data freshness period for Google Analytics is 12 to 48 hours (depending on the intensity of your traffic), but it goes all the way down to 10 minutes to an hour for most reports in Google Analytics 360.

google analytics 360 sla.
The Google Analytics 360 SLA. (Image source)

2. Hit limits

Hit limits in Google Analytics 360 are also higher than in the standard version: around a billion hits per month (and even more for an additional fee), compared to just 10 million for the standard version.

exceeding data limits google analytics.
(Image source)

When you approach the 10-million-hit limit, Google Analytics starts to warn you and offers a few options to resolve the situation:

  • Buy Google Analytics 360;
  • Send fewer hits;
  • Perform app tracking using Google Analytics for Firebase (or switch to Event tracking using the beta version of Google Analytics App + Web).

An unpleasant effect of exceeding the hit limit in Google Analytics is that “you may be prevented from accessing reports,” as the data limits support article warns. Google may also stop processing data beyond that limit:

An increased hit limit is one of the most common reasons for companies to consider Google Analytics 360. Over the past 10 years, about 90% of the companies that have contacted us were considering Google Analytics 360 primarily to avoid the hit limit. 

3. Views per Property

The limit of 50 Properties and 25 Views per Property in the free version of Google Analytics may also be too tight for a growing business. (There are some workaround solutions here.) By comparison, Google Analytics 360 generously offers more than 50 Properties along with 400+ views per Property.

More Properties and Views per Property gives companies the freedom to be creative with cross-domain tracking, filtering, and dicing data from all their websites, apps, and other properties. Google Analytics 360 works well for international companies with tens of brands, big retailers, agencies, etc.

4. Roll-up reporting

Thanks to the roll-up reporting feature in Google Analytics 360, you can grab the data you need from both web and app properties based on a certain parameter (e.g., English-only audience, those who saw your last ad campaign, etc.).

The feature tracks your customers’ Client IDs or User IDs through different sources. 

5. Attribution modeling

There’s no single way to analyze the efficiency of traffic sources in Google Analytics 360. For analyzing advertising channels, you may use the attribution modeling feature that’s part of the new data-driven attribution model, which was created exclusively for Google Analytics 360.

In the free version of Google Analytics, the standard position-based attribution models often under- or overestimate the value of channels. Even the most popular model, Last Non-Direct Click, won’t give you essential insights on how to redistribute your budget. (Those models are enough to get acquainted with the basics of attribution.)

Unlike Google Analytics, Google Analytics 360 presents a multi-channel attribution model that learns from your data on advertising channels. Google Analytics 360 shows you how channels contribute to the growth of conversions and how they interact, but it doesn’t take into account your order performance, call center activity, or brick-and-mortar sales.

How precisely does this model work? Only Google knows. But that black-box functionality is still acceptable for Google Analytics 360 users who:

  1. Have enough traffic and conversions (600+ conversions within 30 days).
  2. Use Google Ads actively and have more than 15,000 clicks on Google search.
  3. Want a reliable solution based on internal data.

Google Analytics 360 allows you to download your whole attribution model as a CSV file to rebuild it or conduct further analysis. Remember that you have to feed this model with regular traffic and conversion data for the results to be representative.

attribution 360 model.
(Image source)

Also keep in mind that your attribution model can be rebuilt only once a week and can take into account only data from the past 90 days.

Ultimately, while the Google Analytics 360 attribution options are great for working with data-driven attribution models, they won’t help companies that want a transparent mechanism and clear logic for attribution calculations. 

6. Ad cost attribution

Ad cost attribution can’t be calculated per user or per user segment in Google Analytics or Google Analytics 360, and you can’t get info on how much it costs to acquire a user who made a particular purchase.

The root of this problem is hidden in the logic of both tools. All data—even data stored in BigQuery—is already aggregated after collection via Google Analytics tags, so it’s impossible to go to the hit level to learn more about your customers.  

B. Customization

7. Unsampled reports and custom tables

Unsampled reports and custom tables in Google Analytics 360 are great for those who are tired of the yellow warning sign that indicates sampled data in reports built on 500,000+ sessions in Google Analytics (or even 100,000+ sessions depending on the number of additional parameters).

If you’ve seen this warning a thousand times, then you’ve outgrown Google Analytics. Google Analytics 360 has a 100-million-session ceiling that’s harder to reach.

sampled data warning in google analytics.

On those rare occasions when you do encounter sampling in Google Analytics 360, you can download any report in an unsampled format (up to 3 million rows for Google Analytics 360 versus only 50,000 for Google Analytics).

Alternatively, you can build a custom table for ongoing reports for which you want to see unsampled data, or you can use the Google BigQuery integration to build the report you need with an SQL request.

You can have up to 100 custom tables in Google Analytics 360, with up to 1 million unique rows in each. 

8. Custom dimension and metrics

With Google Analytics 360, you can have 200 custom dimensions and 200 custom metrics. In Google Analytics, you have one-tenth the number—20 custom dimensions and 20 custom metrics.

Having more custom dimensions and metrics is useful for analysts who like to build lots of audiences for remarketing, email, and experiments on new cohorts

(You should also check out Google’s new App + Web tool, which offers Event tracking logic. App + Web can track up to 500 custom Events and standard Events per app instance, which is awesome.)

9. Custom or calculated metrics

Custom or calculated metrics are a must if you need to observe a range of marketing parameters (like specialized lifetime value or improved customer acquisition costs) to improve your performance.

You may build up to 50 calculated metrics across all Google Analytics 360 Properties.

10. Custom funnels

Custom funnels are the most important feature in Google Analytics 360 for those who use funnels as the main tool for customer journey analysis

A custom funnel allows you to add or delete steps, personalizing the funnel to match (or, at least, better approximate) your real customer journey. With custom funnels in Google Analytics 360, you have a tool with five available steps and five different rules to modify them.

funnels google analytics

Each step can be analyzed for bottlenecks and obstacles, or can be tested to see how certain pages help or hinder customers on their way to making a purchase.

In the free version of Google Analytics, you can’t customize funnels.

C. Integrations and data import/export

11. Query time import

Query time import is a beta feature in Google Analytics 360 for those who want to improve historical hit data with imported data (e.g., offline data) from other sources and immediately build reports on it. It makes your reporting datasets more comprehensive.

For example, if you want to build a report on your last big advertising campaign (for which offline points-of-sale identified new customers), you have to use query time to import offline data into the hit sets for a certain period. By combining historical hit data with offline data, you can reveal the campaign’s true effectiveness.

Admittedly, this functionality is tiresome to use—no automatic import is available and you have to launch the query time import tool each time you need a report. This annoys even the biggest fans of Google Analytics 360.

12. Integrations

Integrations are the second most important cause for upgrading to the paid version of Google Analytics. If you plan to use certain tools, then Google Analytics 360 is the best choice for you as a single point of truth for your analytics system.

Google Analytics 360 has native integrations with:

  • BigQuery. An enterprise data warehouse for fast SQL queries.
  • Salesforce. A cloud-based CRM system.
  • Search Ads 360 (formerly DoubleClick Search), Display Video 360 (formerly DoubleClick Bid Manager), Campaign Manager (formerly DoubleClick Campaign Manager). Tools for comprehensive search and creative ad campaign management.

These integrations multiply the value of Google Analytics 360 by:

  • Making it possible to use the same metrics for all channels, touchpoints, and platforms;
  • Providing new reports based on Search Ads 360 and Display Video 360 data with special metrics for campaign optimization;
  • Delivering keyword sets and audiences from Google Analytics 360 for better targeting in Display Video 360;
  • Giving access to raw data from BigQuery (though it’s still aggregated);
  • Integrating with Salesforce to improve attribution and enrich your website data with sales data.

All of these features are available in Google Analytics but only through third-party tools, not in the native, automated format in Google Analytics 360. (Search Ads 360 and Display Video 360 still can be tracked without Google Analytics 360 thanks to Floodlight.)

The audience possibilities are extremely important here—typically, within Google Analytics, you can’t export keywords, social, or other kinds of data on the path of the customer to your website. But with Google Analytics 360, you can do this with built-in tools and native integrations. 

13. Post-view conversions

Post-view conversions—the golden dream of marketers who use media ads—are reported only at the campaign level with the help of Ads Data Hub. To overcome this challenge, you have to export DT files and run custom reports. Google Analytics 360 isn’t the best tool for that. 

Features aside, the answers to a few questions can help you find out if your company would benefit from Google Analytics 360.

Which is right for you: Google Analytics or Google Analytics 360?

Based on our experience as a major Google Analytics 360 partner and reseller, companies that benefit from Google Analytics 360 have the following characteristics:

  • They have more than 50,000 website visits per day, or they’re seeing an alert about exceeding the limits of the free version of Google Analytics. If you want to keep your analytics system stable and consistent, avoid reaching any kind of limits. With Google Analytics 360, you’ll increase your limits substantially.
  • Data sampling and delayed data availability interrupt their work. For example, you may hit data freshness limits in your reports or see the sampling flag. This means data collection isn’t consistent, and you can’t make reliable decisions based on your reports.
  • A return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) increase of at least 10% will bring an immediate jump in revenue. There’s a stage of company growth when increasing the advertising budget won’t bring expected revenue growth. At this stage, one way to grow is to improve ROAS. If your ROAS calculation shows that improving advertising efficiency is your growth zone, then Google Analytics 360 is a good choice.

Companies should reconsider their need for Google Analytics 360 if:

  • They don’t do proper UTM tagging. If you still haven’t set up UTM tags correctly, don’t even think about Google Analytics 360. The whole system of reports, attribution, cohorts, segments, and other features will be a pile of expensive junk without correctly configured UTMs. 
  • The security department forbids setting up Google Analytics 360 due to privacy concerns. Some companies that are ready to implement Google Analytics 360 can’t because of security requirements. If your security department requires you to do everything in-house, marketing analytics is still possible with other tools, just not Google Analytics.
  • They don’t trust data they haven’t manually added to the database using SQL. If you’ve built your analytics system manually, and Google Analytics wasn’t in your analytics starter pack, you may call into question the completeness of data. That’s your right. But SLA obligations aren’t just words on paper; they’re backed by Google’s reputation. 

Google Analytics 360 is not enough on its own in the following situations:

  • Companies need to analyze cost data at the user level. This is not possible due to Google Analytics 360 restrictions. It often happens that companies that have reached the greatest level of data granularity in the Google Analytics ecosystem still want to know more about their customers.
  • The black-box nature of Google Analytics 360’s data-driven attribution modeling doesn’t meet expectations. Attribution modeling involves lots of experiments, and trying new models is essential to find one that fits your business. The Google Analytics 360 model is questionable for those who want a transparently calculated attribution model. 

Other serious limitations of Google Analytics 360 that should be considered before purchasing:

  • No reprocessing is available. Revenue displayed in Google Analytics 360 isn’t reliable—no data on returns or canceled orders can be included. This is partly solved in BigQuery for manual reports, but it’s not solved in the Google Analytics 360 ecosystem.
  • Search Ads 360, Display Video 360, and Campaign Manager integrations can help companies with remarketing and view-through conversion reports built at the campaign level, but not with analyzing banner efficiency for segments and individual users.


When comparing Google Analytics and Google Analytics 360, consider the following:

  • Google Analytics 360 offers an expanded stack of basic Google Analytics features. It’s a level-up version for those who want the same Google Analytics services, only advanced.
  • Google Analytics 360 still has hit limits, integration difficulties, lack of access to historical data, etc. 
  • You can’t collect raw and unaggregated data or perform a customer-level drill-down, even with Google Analytics 360. This is a real problem if you’re aiming to personalize marketing.
  • A variety of potential integrations matters more than the offerings of any one analytics tool.

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