Bring order to chaos: Wrangling data for actionable insights

How to bring an overwhelming amount of data under control and use the insights gained throughout your business.

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Producing actionable insights is one of the most challenging issues that brands face today. Urgency is ever-present, pushing marketers and analysts to rush decisions. But urgency is only half of the problem. Making the situation more chaotic is the fact that we are simultaneously awash in waves of data from too many sources. Between the urgency to produce results combined with the massive sea of data, we are inundated us every time we wade in and then simply washed back to shore.

So where do we start? Transactional, engagement, or demographic data? Prospecting or retention? The inundation keeps pushing us back.

There are strategies to navigate the churn and turbidity, and remedy those issues. Sometimes we simply need to take a step back, narrow our focus, and even get a little ruthless.

Insights begin with goal-setting

First, we need leadership teams to get ruthless with what really matters. Analytics can’t chase the shiny object or rely on some utopian commerce breakthrough — if only we could find attribution in some rabbit-hole metric.

Think bigger. Get brutal with company and divisional goals.

Great goals have a couple of key characteristics in common. First, they’re specific — they have clear expectations and a path forward to measure and show success. Great goals also unify teams instead of dispersing them in different directions where everyone has a separate idea of how they can accomplish them.

To reach goals, every single person needs to be pulling the boat in the same direction. Great goals produce unity, which in turn helps to focus analytical firepower where it matters most. Remove the rest.

Where to start

The lowest hanging fruit is almost always customer retention. It’s the easiest behavior to shift; it has the most room to grow; it’s the most profitable. One way to understand the importance of retention is to ask this question: if a brand acquires a new customer, what does that matter if that brand can’t keep the customer engaged? Prospecting without first nailing down the current customer makes teams spin their wheels and waste energy.

Align your performance indicators

So, we have our goals narrowed down and all teams are working towards a common purpose.  The next step is to flawlessly align our performance indicators to those stringently selected goals. Again, narrow your focus and be strict with the fidelity of indicators to goals.  They should have either a clear cause-and-effect relationship or a very strong correlation to prove success.

Once we’ve identified those core components, we can simply let the rest of the data wash away.  It takes work up front, but that work will be rewarded with a strong path forward and will avoid data paralysis down the road. By deriving indicators naturally from a core set of goals, you organically narrow the data set, so we can focus on producing insights that drive change.

It’s easy to see how many brands can get stuck in the mud during this phase. There are so many temptations, so many paths to take that could work if only for one added piece that we don’t have in the model. But this is a faulty mindset and the effort will be wasted with little to show for all that added work. Put the blinders on and be strict.

Where to start

The answer is almost always transactional data, especially if we’ve felt the impact of overwhelming data paralysis. Stick to transactional indicators early. They’re reliable and strongly aligned to behavior. What shows customer sentiment better: a Facebook Like or purchasing items?

Measure, rinse, repeat

Lastly, all of that work is useless if we don’t have a measurement plan in place to prove success. If we can’t measure, it doesn’t matter.

The best approach is a rigorous test-and-learn strategy. Not only does it prove success, but it also provides actionable insights for the future to help build individual successes into larger groups of changes across channels and teams to drive and achieve goals.

Analytics teams can definitely get backed up, especially with A/B testing. Sometimes the waitlist is daunting. But there are two good options if that happens. First, consider an outside agency dedicated to helping us learn about the customer. An outside source can provide focus when things get too tight for internal teams to produce results.

The other option is to test historically. I can hear the gasps and guffaws of analytics teams, but we need to read the tea leaves however we can to produce results. That means pushing changes to market and measuring year-over-year data instead of one-off direct causations.  That option is better suited to areas where we already know best practices or have some data points to suggest the right decisions with high degrees of confidence.

Another reason it’s a viable option — and why analysts should love it — is that it frees up the testing schedule dramatically. So many tests don’t really need to be run in an A/B format; sometimes we have years of historical data or mountains of best-practice to influence our decision. In those instances, measurement is less of a read and more of a confirmation.

Bring order to chaos

These ideas may sound simple and, to a large degree, they are simple. They’re foundational. But without a foundation, how can we achieve our brand aspirations?

So many brands run before they can walk and they fall flat. To bring order to chaos, we need to start with the lowest common denominators to build on our learnings. Start small, grow big. Incrementally and soon, teams from every channel will have the learnings they need to act and provide the best experiences possible for both the brands and the customers.

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How to supercharge the Salesforce lead source field

Strategic management of the lead source field within Salesforce setup will unlock the magic of campaign tracking and measure the efforts of your paid media and content efforts. Here’s how.

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Salesforce lead source has long been the data point that has ruled measurement of marketing initiatives. This field tracks channel attribution and is used to measure return on marketing investments.

However, in today’s marketplace, the field is very limited out of the box. Absent multitouch attribution flexibility, you really only get one lead source on a record within the database. But what about second, third and fourth touches?

There are a few options utilizing just lead source on its own, but they all have limitations:

  1. We can ignore all touches after the first and stick to the original source only. This is often the method we see used at most companies, and it leads to inaccurate data
  2. The second option is to override the existing lead source with each new touch. This leaves you with the most recent lead source only. Unfortunately, this destroys info and creates inaccurate data, leading to really scary decision-making.
  3. The last option is to create a new lead record for each touch. This approach is the most disruptive, leading to mass confusion and degraded data quality.

So, how do we measure the big picture of a combination of channel influence and maintain the integrity of the database? The answer is to use campaign tracking alongside a customized lead source architecture.

In this post, we’ll focus on how to get your lead source field customized with a level of granularity that serves the business while maintaining the integrity of the data.

Lead source field review

Out of the box, the default lead source list in Salesforce is not granular enough. This list predates most of the channels we utilize in marketing today — rolling all digital channel activity into one bucket labeled “web.”

Neglecting to customize this list during a Salesforce implementation leads to pandemonium and frustration once data begins to populate the reports, and marketing can’t see the results of their efforts clearly enough. Which then leads to shooting in the dark and misalignment between sales and marketing.

We highly recommend you perform an audit of your lead source field options and customize them for your organization. Get rid of lead sources that don’t serve you and add lead sources you would like to track. This can easily be done with a simple spreadsheet to allow everyone to come together and agree on what level of granularity you would like to see.

Customize Salesforce lead source

Once you have gone through your existing lead source list and pruned the lead sources that don’t belong, you can draft the new lead sources that should be added. Now, it’s time to go through and look for missing granularity and opportunity to consolidate.

Effective marketers and data folks always want things tracked as granularly as possible. This often leads to a new lead source for every single activity, event and campaign, which creates a bloated database and makes for difficult reporting.

You’ll likely find that you have several lead sources that can be combined or eliminated. Look for opportunities to standardize your lead sources similar to Google Analytics parameters. If you need additional details, add more fields.

Standardize data entry

Once things are cleaned up, we highly recommend you standardize and automate your data entry. The lead source field should be locked down and set automatically by the system, not by human hands. You can do this using a web-to-lead form (first touch email acquisition) or by passing data from your marketing automation tool (first touch visit).

Once the data is set, don’t allow it to change or allow it to map to other objects.

Strategic management of the lead source field within your Salesforce setup will allow you to unlock the magic of campaign tracking and really measure the efforts of your paid media campaigns and content efforts.

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Who’s Hiring in September?

Pumpkin spice is not the only thing in surplus this month, take a look at some job postings around experimentation and personalization. Here are our picks: Director, Digital Strategy – Universal Orlando is looking for a Director to “champion the consumer’s journey across channels to achieve business and campaign objectives and collaborates with leaders of […]

The post Who’s Hiring in September? appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Pumpkin spice is not the only thing in surplus this month, take a look at some job postings around experimentation and personalization.

Here are our picks:

Director, Digital Strategy – Universal Orlando is looking for a Director to “champion the consumer’s journey across channels to achieve business and campaign objectives and collaborates with leaders of non-digital channels to ideate and recommend campaign integration opportunities.”

Senior Web Experimentation Lead – The marketing experimentation team at esurance is looking for a leader to “embed an experimentation culture into the esurance DNA in San Francisco. This role will deliver increased cost savings, additional revenue and industry leading user experiences through the power of site testing technology and the scientific rigor of controlled experimentation.”

Senior User Experience & Small Business Project Manager –  Lenovo is seeking a candidate in Raleigh, NC to drive “UX projects to improve the online customer experience for globally. The project manager will manage the identification, conception, definition, design, testing and implementation of UX projects with the goal of improving the customer experience, online engagement and purchase conversion.”

Manager of Digital Testing & Optimization, Analytics – Join the digital analytics and optimization team at L Brands in Reynoldsburg, Ohio and “lead digital testing and optimization efforts. This person will champion the advancement of testing and optimization capabilities and be viewed as the optimization evangelist for different brand partners.”

Digital Marketing Manager, Personalization – looking for an ambitious learner to lead a test & learn strategy through experimentation for our digital marketing channels. You will be the leader and subject matter expert of A/B testing with the goal of developing the strategy and approach on personalization.

E-Commerce & Digital Operations Manager – In New York, Zacharys Fine Wine is looking for a candidate to plan and execute “digital and website activities for retail including: content, merchandising, landing pages, site search, product recommendations, personalization, loyalty and other on-site conversion optimization tools.”

Sr. Integrated Marketing Manager – Web Analyst – Microsoft in Redmond, Washington is looking to fill a role to “work with the web lead to strategize, create, manage, execute and optimize web analytics. This includes building experimentation and personalization programs for Dynamics 365 and Power BI.”

Director, eCommerce – “Drive the strategy, development, implementation, and continued improvement of the eCommerce booking experience for Carnival Cruise Line” in Miami, Florida.  “Help lead the presentation across the eCommerce website and mobile app, supporting the integrated programs, promotions and initiatives across the organization.”

Sr Analyst A/B Testing & Site Optimization – Help “drive and support A/B and multivariate testing initiatives on the site” in Atlanta, Georgia. “The Sr Analyst will be responsible for statistical design, analysis, and reporting aimed at the continued improvement of onsite experience, with a focus on partnership for making data-driven decisions that drive improved conversion.”

User Experience (UX) Designer – Join the Brooks Bell’s UX team in Raleigh, North Carolina.  “The core function of this role is to research, concept, design, user test, and produce all files needed to execute A/B tests for our clients. This includes creating digital assets that are consistent with the development team’s standards and templates, as well as selecting images, designing layouts, and creating digital experiences that answer user issues outlined by our digital analytics and user research sessions.”

Trying to fill a position in testing and optimization? Send us your posting and we’ll include it on our next post!

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How to capitalize on the competitive advantage of real-time data analysis

Contributor Stela Yordanova explains how to capitalize on the competitive advantage provided by real-time data analysis.

The post How to capitalize on the competitive advantage of real-time data analysis appeared first on Marketing Land.

The Real-Time report in Google Analytics allows you to monitor website activity as it actually occurs on your website or app. The report is continuously updated, and website activity is reported just a few seconds after it happens. This immediacy of real-time data provides digital marketers with unique and valuable insights.

There are many ways you can use real-time reporting such as gauging the effectiveness of your mobile app through event tracking and monitoring one-day promotions on your site.  Today I want to focus on and recommend marketers use Google’s Real-Time report for three specific things:

  1. To quickly monitor results for short-term campaigns or promotional efforts.
  2. To track immediate interaction with newly published content.
  3. To test and verify Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager implementation.

Real-Time Overview

The Real-Time report contains an Overview plus five specific reports:

  • Location report.
  • Traffic Sources report.
  • Content report.
  • Events report.
  • Conversion report.

Each report is described below with suggestions on how marketers should use them to analyze real-time website data and improve marketing results.


[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]

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It’s time for the brand promise to evolve. Again.

Contributor John Nardone explains how being an empathetic marketer can help you with everything from managing data to conceiving of dynamite creative.

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With GDPR recently coming into effect, advertisers are once again fretting over their use of consumer data. In Europe, the fretting is beneath a regulatory cloud, with financial consequences for the misuse of EU consumer data.

Here in the US, we are not facing legislation, but GDPR, Cambridge Analytica and congressional hearings have nonetheless refocused us on the question of fair and appropriate use of consumer data.

It is a fundamental conundrum that’s faced marketers for years: how to manage the fine line of personalization vs. privacy. When does appropriate use of data flip over to inappropriate? When does personalization cross the line into “creepy?”

The answer to the privacy vs. personalization challenge shouldn’t be difficult for responsible and thoughtful marketers. If they want to know whether their use of data is appropriate, marketers just need to put themselves in the shoes of their consumers.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

Good marketers should always be empathetic and attentive to the needs of their consumers, but in a data-enabled environment, they should aspire to go a step farther. They should strive to deliver some value in return for using that consumer’s data and for her attention.

In other words: It can’t be about the needs of your brand (i.e., more sales!). The message you deliver to the consumer, and the way in which you deliver it, must serve the consumer’s agenda, not your own. If marketers can adhere to this very basic premise and allow attentiveness and empathy to guide their strategies and communications, concerns about inadvertently crossing into the realm of data creepiness will be largely assuaged.

While the above concept might sound obvious (albeit rarely put into practice), it’s only in recent years that the dynamic messaging capabilities needed to deliver on this premise have become available.

As industry columns like this one are quick to remind readers, we know more about the individuals seeing our ads than ever before. Now, it’s time for our brand promises to be expressed in ways that reflect that knowledge.

A singular brand promise, tailored to the individual

The brand promise has evolved significantly over the past 70 years. Pre-1950s, most brand promises were straightforward. They stated what the product did. Detergent makes your clothes cleaner. Deodorant makes your armpits drier. Car wax protects your car’s finish. Simple, sure. But certainly not personal.

In the ensuing decades, the brand promise evolved. It took on meaning relative to the consumer. Advertisers shifted away from product features to focus on end benefits. Yes, deodorant keeps you drier, but why? So you can be more confident. That’s what really matters to consumers.

But over the past decade of digital and programmatic innovation, distribution has come to outweigh the message. As marketers, we became infatuated with the precision with which we could reach consumers — to the point that we forgot to pay attention to the messages and the creative with which we were reaching them.

Thankfully, we’re headed for a correction in that ever-swinging pendulum, one that brings empathy and humanization of the consumer to the forefront in ways that were not possible in decades past.

In today’s world of personalization, the empathetic marketer has the opportunity to evolve the brand promise yet again by translating it to the individual. And that’s where some serious creative magic can happen.

How awesome creative can be

In the world of the personalized brand promise, deodorant doesn’t just make you dry. It doesn’t just make you confident. It makes a 46-year-old father of two more confident when he meets the parents of his daughter’s new boyfriend. It makes the 27-year-old account manager more confident when she gives her first company-wide presentation. If context matters, then the context of the individual matters the most.

In the hands of an attentive and empathic marketer, data can enable a new, more personally relevant expression of the brand promise. Not only can we speak to a product’s end benefit, but we can speak to that end benefit as it applies to an individual at a given moment in time.

The creative possibilities enabled by the personalized brand promise are limitless. But to get it right, we must first embrace empathy as our key guiding principle in connecting with consumers in the moment.

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Attention + intensity: Tips for navigating the new age of media strategy

Contributor Mark Williams says marketers must evolve the metrics they monitor to keep up with the changing media-consumption environment.

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As marketers and brands have seen, the prevalence of digital video has transformed how consumers access media and content.

Essentially, video is not the future, it’s the “now”.

According to Cisco, global IP video traffic will represent 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2021, up from 73 percent in 2016. Consumers no longer want to read about a brand  — they want to visualize it.

In 2018 and beyond, we’ll see a big shift from before, when advertisers were looking to buy reach and frequency with traditional media, to now, where advertisers will want to capitalize on intensity through the maximum amount of reach and frequency. In a post-pivot-to-video world, it’s time to change your video and media strategy, especially how you measure it.

To tackle all of the changes and innovations in media and digital marketing within the past few years, and especially to gear you up for the further integration of video, here are three tips for navigating the new age of media strategy.

1. Measure your audience with intensity

Rethink your approach to measurement. It’s not just about clicks and views. Viewability and reach are no longer the main indicators of success because they don’t measure how an audience is connecting with the content.

Instead, track deeper actions. Update your key performance indicators (KPIs) with different engagement metrics, such as watch time, engagements, earned metrics and follower acquisition, to track whether or not your intended audience actually viewed your message and reacted to it.

Watch time is one of the most valuable metrics to track in order to gauge whether or not audiences are actually watching your content. It’s also the most important factor for platform algorithms. If you track minutes watched, retention rate and the average percentage of those who watched through, you’ll have a better idea of how you are captivating the audience’s attention, and at what level of intensity.

Tracking engagements (e.g., likes, shares and comments) is also a key indicator of your strategy’s performance. Engagements and engagement rates indicate that fans are making a decision beyond simply watching your content. If they’re sharing, starting up a conversation, or compelled by a call to action from the content, you can measure the intensity with which your audience is consuming the material.

Also, be sure to watch your follower/subscriber acquisition. Growing a fan base is essential to the marketing efforts of advertisers, and it is important to identify what content brings in new followers so that you can focus your content strategy to consider these insights.

2. Rethink content strategy: Transform ads + make content relevant

Given the prevalence of ad blockers, it’s clear that interruptive advertising doesn’t work anymore. Instead, we’re seeing high performance through integrated brand messages. To do this, make your content relevant to your consumer.

Embed your campaign initiatives into publisher sites through partnerships to make for a smoother and natural integration of your advertising.

Consider integrating with influencers. Research conducted by Fullscreen (my employer) and MediaScience found that the percentage of viewers who would recommend a brand after watching a branded video from an influencer was 13 percent higher than the percentage for a TV ad.

Test different content strategies to see what resonates best with your audience, and for a more specific segmented analysis, A/B test different interest sets and demographics to inform your marketing plan.

3. Tailor by platform

To keep your marketing strategy specific and efficient, optimize content and advertising to reflect the platform. Utilize metadata by making campaigns that align with proper titling and tagging across all of your platforms. Keep your branding design consistent to ensure that your content is distinguishable. Ensure that your creative is designed for the specific tech specs of the platform where it will live.

Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all approach. Facebook creative must be treated differently from Snapchat and so on. Perhaps most importantly, the creative must feel endemic to the platform — which explains why repurposed television commercials have some of the lowest engagement metrics.

Identify and maintain a consistent publishing schedule that is tailored to times when platforms reach the highest number of eyes, not only to maximize viewership and engagement but also to help consumers know when to expect your content.

Further, aim to promote circular traffic: Utilize the platforms through their available interactive elements so that you can cross-promote across all channels.

When tailoring your content for specific platforms, you also want to pay attention to how the platform is accessed.

Take a look at the platform functions, according to recent data from each platform and Statista, YouTube is accessed 50 percent of the time on mobile, whereas Facebook is at 95.1 percent and Instagram is at 100 percent.

This means that when creating content for YouTube, you should pay equal attention to mobile and desktop access, whereas Facebook and Instagram should lean more heavily toward mobile usage.

In closing

You’ll want to keep these three tips at the forefront of your digital marketing and content strategy so that you quickly adapt your brand to the changing video and media environments of today.

Remember, the overarching difference in paid media targeting online versus traditional targeting is the more refined, specific targeting of individuals, which ultimately leads to higher attention and intensity, as well as greater returns.

With all of these advancements, online media has many new metrics which you absolutely must utilize to expand your reach and retention far beyond that of traditional paid media.

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