Would you have married your spouse if you only knew his or her address?

Marketers claim to know their customers because they have captured demographic and historical transaction information about them but would you have married your spouse based on age, height, address and the fact that they bought shoes once?  I think not.  Why should marketers think this enough to truly address the needs of today’s customers?

Many marketers are doing a very good job an incorporating traditional data critical to being able to target marketing efforts.

Data such as:

  • Self-declared demographic information 
  • Marketing inquiries
  • Sales leads
  • Orders, payment history

This information is a great place to start.  There is no doubt that applying advanced analytics help marketers find patterns and trends while also predicting what is likely to happen next.  

Think about being on your first date with you spouse.  The conversation starts with the basics:

First Date

  • Where are you from?
  • Where do you live now?
  • Where did you study?

But quickly moves to:

  • What is your opinion of the President?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • What do you really dislike?

Now think about applying this in a business context.  As a marketer, I would like nothing more than to put an offer in front of customers and prospects that would not only speak to their business need but would also speak to personal likes.  How can you do this?

digital thumb print

Every interaction is an opportunity to get to know your buyers better.

Traditional interaction data from a marketing automation system such as Unica, Eloqua, Marketo or Neolane is a valuable source of information about  buyers’ behavior.  By capturing all interactions, regardless of channel, allows marketing organizations to apply predictive models to predict which customers are likely to respond to marketing offers via which channel and how frequently.    Using predictive models as part of a broader  customer analytics initiative helps marketing organizations identify which buyers to target and personalize offers for cross and up-sell opportunities

Great, we now know which offers my buyers will likely respond to and how frequently!  Now, go back to my first example – the date.  Getting to know your buyers personal preferences allows you to gain a deeper understanding of customer attitudes, preferences and opinions to make them part of the decision making process. Think about collecting customer opinions, attitudes and interest via surveys or data collection.  Use the interaction opportunity to capture a hobby or other personal activity.  Then apply this in your marketing activities.  If your buyer likes golf, find a way to incorporate it into your outreach (e.g. my marketing team has used direct mail/dimensional mailers giving away a free driver!).   

Social Media is another data source which can provide tremendous insight into customer opinions, both positive and negative.  Apply social media analytics to get the real opinion of your products to ultimately engage brand advocates and detractors in a conversation. CI Social media analytics allows organizations to capture consumer data from social media to understand attitudes, opinions and trends.

They key here is not to look at each of the pieces of data as stand alone pieces of information.  It is about combining them to get a “thumb print” which identifies the uniqueness of an individual.

Please feel free to connect with me on Twitter to discuss further @BrendanRGrady

A Step by Step Plan to better B2B marketing

I am a marketer by trade.  I am feeling the tidal wave of change happening to our profession – Data, Cloud, and New ways of engaging with customer and companies are presenting us marketers with tremendous challenges but also tremendous opportunities.

The timeless responsibilities of marketers are changing.  For the longest time, we have been held to account for:

  • Know your customers:  Which segments are the most attractive?
  • Define what and how to market it:  Which products will penetrate a given segment leading to the highest amount of revenue?
  • Protect the brand promise:  How is your brand perceived in the market?

These responsibilities are morphing into a a set of new imperatives for marketers:

  • Understand your customers:  Even in B2B organizations,  marketers need to engage potential customers with individualized messaging and offers.   This is about understanding customer behaviors – what they do, have done and are likely to do.
  • Create a system of engagement:  No more “random acts of marketing”.  Establish a consistent process for engaging customers at every interaction point  – web, email, social, live event, communities.  The way you engage should be driven by analytics – what is working?  What is not?  What channels and offers should I be using?  How does my target audience like to interact with me?
  • Design your brand and culture so they are one:  Establish internal cultural norms that further your brand.  Culture will win out over brand every time. Ensure your brand is carried in a positive way in the market.

While these responsibilities and imperatives are important and need to be considered, they are not the end all be all.  In the end, marketers still need to find answers.  They need to be able to read customers expressions or body language in a world that has become increasingly digitized.

Here are some tips about how to go about this:

  • Capture all customer interactions:  Data collection is critical to meeting the demands of he segment of one.  Ask your customers for information which will uniquely identify them – e.g. email address;  BUT, offer them something in return – a white paper, a demo, attendance at webinar or event.  Ultimately you need to engage customers in a dialog across all channels.  Every interaction should be treated equally – events, web, email, social – all opportunities to capture a piece of customer info.
  • Categorize the different types of customer data:  Marketers need to understand the different type of customer data:  Descriptive:  Self identified industry, title etc; Attitudinal: Customer opinions, feelings and sentimentBehavioral: Buying history, event attendance etc.. Interactions:  Website visits,  sales calls, email, social media etc..
  • Analyze all customer data in context: With  the data from point 3, look at all of these together to develop a “digital thumb print” of your contacts – the pattern that makes the contact unique.
  • Use various types of analytics:This is where a “one size fits all” approach does not work.  You need to apply the right type of analytics to the task:  data collection, social media analysis, social network analysis and sentiment analytics for attitudinal information; reporting, statistical analysis, data mining and  advanced visualization for descriptive, behavioral and transactional information
  • Predict client behavior:  Do not wait until something bad happens…predict what your clients are likely to do next.  Will you get it right all the time?  Nope, but you can be sure that the odds are in your favor to get it right if you are following steps 1 -5.
  • Create a closed loop and global view of the customer:  Steps 1- 6 must feed a cycle of marketing.  This is similar to the instructions on your shampoo bottle: Apply, rinse and repeat.
  • Make analytics available to all:  Access to information to make critical decisions cannot be given to the select few if you truly want to drive better outcomes via your marketing activities.  Insights must be available to every marketer when they need it and how they need it – via standardized reports, dashboards, analysis etc..
  • Gain “right time” intelligence:   So much is made of “real time”.  As a B2B marketer I laugh at this….I do not need real time analytics.  (Yes, I said it!).  Would I like it?  Of course I would, but I do not need it.  What I really need is insight at the “right time” – when the buyer is ready to act.  Understanding your buyers’ “thumb print” will allow you to identify that “right time” to put an offer in front of them.
  • Discover new business models:  With all of the data available to you and analytics to help interpret it, you may be sitting on a gold mine without even knowing it.

Truly understanding customers and what they will do next is not rocket science.  It require some critical thought and intestinal fortitude to let go of long held beliefs and believe the data.

Who is afraid of analytics? I am not…anymore

I studied German at university for both my undergrad and graduate degrees.  Numbers and data were not exactly my strong suit.  In fact, I was a bit of a “numberphobe” or “arithmophobe” for many years.    arithmophobia1I am willing to bet many of my fellow marketeers are also not thrilled with having to become more of a scientist vs. artist when it comes to managing marketing activities.  Many marketers have never developed (and frankly never been asked to) develop the analytic skills required to be successful in today’s data driven marketing world.

Well guess what folks?  If you are a marketer and have not started developing analytic skills yet…you are behind the curve and may find yourself left in the dust. Now, with that said, if this German major can “get it”, I am pretty convinced anyone can!  Here is how:

  1. Get knowledgeable! Learn about the metrics and KPIs marketers should focus on and why they are important.  This is Spend time learning from those who have come before you vAnalytics Knowledgeersus inventing your own.  B2B demand marketers can turn to Sirius Decisions for a strong and simple cookbook to measure marketing effectiveness.  Their demand waterfall gives everything a demand marketer needs to know.   Additional ideas on the right measurements are laid out in The Performance Manager.   This is probably one of the most important areas I learned about:  Which metrics to choose and why.  As I did not have a background in marketing,  I spent the majority of my efforts here.
  2. Sell the metrics and KPIs to sales and marketing leaders:kpi I can not emphasize enough how important it is to gain agreement on the joint marketing and sales metrics.  Mark Emond, from Demand Spring emphasizes this in his blog posts and his engagement with customers. Defining the word “lead” and agreeing on how many marketing will deliver to sales is likely to be a huge challenge.  It is critical to select metrics which your actions can influence and will have measurable impact on business performance (e.g. # of net new leads, Average deal size, average sales cycle etc.)  These will be the easiest to sell to your execs.
  3. Put the spreadsheet down, back away slowly and no one gets injured:  Spreadsheets are nice and familiar to most people but they lead to conflict and ultimately waste more time than it is worth.  With agreed upon metrics and KPIs, it is time to explore a single version of the truth versus everyone’s OWN version of the truth.  Business Intelligencedata discoverypredictive analytics and visualization offerings have become easier and easier to use over the past several years.  Many offer the flexibility of spreadsheets (heck, some even offer a spreadsheet like interface!) while also providing one, single version of the truth.  (No more debating which version of the spreadsheet based report is “correct”).  The other thing to consider when selecting a tool to support your needs:  ensure that you select a tool that is intuitive and is not going to take a PhD to learn!  @Ventanaresearch describes the shortcomings of spreadsheets in this white paper.
  4. Invest in education and training:  Invest in yourself and/or your employees. Importantly learn how to bring analytics into your team with the maximum positive impact.  There are many educational resources out there for you and your team to get up to speed.   Connect and network with others who use analytics in their organization to learn about how they have had success.

Overall needed to become more analytical can be daunting, especially for those who may not have an analytics background.  With that said, there are many resources available to you.  If a German major can lead marketing analytics initiatives, can it really be that complicated or hard to do?

What Watson Analytics can do for YOU!

It has been a little over a year since IBM’s Watson Analytics was released.  Watson Analytics, a smart data discovery tool, continues to deliver easy analytics for everyone.  Some competitors are trying to catch and imitate what IBM has delivered but frankly, their latest news is more “snooze worthy” than newsworthy.

Because Watson Analytics is so easy to use and visually appealing, IBM has seen strong adoption (1 million plus users!).  Earlier this year, there have been some amazing additions to an already fantastic product (see Watson Analytics for Social Media).

Watson Analytics is so powerful and can address so many different uses cases.  I am frequently faced with the following query:  So, I get it!  I have a ton of data and I need a way to make sense of it.  But what exactly do I DO with it??

This really depends on what your role is.  In our work lives we each fit into some type of role:

  • sales guy
  • marketeer
  • finance professional 
  • operations director
  • supply chain manager
  • head of strategy

So, as you read this and think about what YOU can do with Watson Analytics, think about the data you need to better visualize.  Think about what finding patterns within your data could do for you.  Finally, think about how adding social media data to your analyses can make you analyses event more effective.

But most importantly let’s put this in context of some of the major roles and use cases that will matter to you:

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 9.52.01 PM.png

Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing the details behind some of these specific use cases and providing a “how to do this yourself” approach.  Check back to hear more about how #watsonanalytics can help address many of these use cases.

How to plan the BEST office party!

So, it is that time of year again….the holiday season from Thanksgiving (in the US), to Chanukah, Christmas, Festivus and New Years.  It is during this season when many companies decide to throw an office party.  If you are tasked with finding the “perfect” location to host your party, you know you have your hands full in pleasing everyone…

There is a way you can hedge your bets and find the “perfect” location which will please most people. How about using social media and your social network to understand peoples opinions and sentiment about certain locations.

Check out the steps below to get started!!!

Click here to register for a free trial of Watson Analytics for Social Media.

office-party

 

So what the heck do you do with Watson Analytics?

It has been a little over a year since IBM’s Watson Analytics was released.  Watson Analytics, a smart data discovery tool, continues to deliver easy analytics for everyone.  Some competitors are trying to catch and imitate what IBM has delivered but frankly, their latest news is more “snooze worthy” than newsworthy.

Because Watson Analytics is so easy to use and visually appealing, IBM has seen strong adoption (1 million plus users!).  Over the past couple of months there have been some amazing additions to an already fantastic product (see Watson Analytics for Social Media).

Watson Analytics is so powerful and can address so many different uses cases.  I am frequently faced with the following query:  So, I get it!  I have a ton of data and I need a way to make sense of it.  But what exactly do I DO with it??

This really depends on what your role is.  In our work lives we each fit into some type of role:

  • sales guy
  • marketeer
  • finance professional 
  • operations director
  • supply chain manager
  • head of strategy

So, as you read this and think about what YOU can do with Watson Analytics, think about the data you need to better visualize.  Think about what finding patterns within your data could do for you.  Finally, think about how adding social media data to your analyses can make you analyses event more effective.

But most importantly let’s put this in context of some of the major roles and use cases that will matter to you:

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 9.52.01 PM.png

Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing the details behind some of these specific use cases and providing a “how to do this yourself” approach.  Check back to hear more about how #watsonanalytics can help address many of these use cases.

 

 

4 reasons why I am the perfect audience for analytics

I recently joined a small company after spending 8 years at IBM. While there I was fortunate enough to be exposed to some of the world’s best analytics offerings. I also had the opportunity to work with some really strong thought leaders like: Marcus Hearne, Erick Brethenoux, Olivier Jouve, Oliver Oursin and many others. Now that I have moved out of IBM I am feeling the pain many of my former clients feel.

I have become the target audience for many of the analytics vendors out there. IBM, Qlik, Tableau and others all have a shot at my business.  So why is that?  What is it that makes my company so typical and in such need for easy to use, fast, intuitive analytics that deliver a single version of the truth?

  • What business questions to I need to answer? – This is a fundamental issue.  Helping to identify the key business drivers has proven much more challenging then I would have thought.  Many in the business do not even know what they are trying to understand.  This obviously comes with experience and time.  But it is really something organizations must do a better job with unless they want to constantly be behind.
  • Metrics for the sake of metrics: We measure EVERYTHING and I mean literally everything in our sales organization.  On the one had, I am happy from a sales performance management perspective that we have some base metrics.  But on the other hand, we have an inability to influence or take action on the metrics.  We suffer from “so-what-itis”.  I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at some of the KPIs and metrics and asked “So what?”.
  • Data:  How do i put this politely?  Our core marketing and sales date is CRAP!  We suffer from duplication,a poor data capture approach and a lack of completeness and correctness.  When  asked: Who is responsible for the data quality?  The silence was deafening.  Data is the foundation for any organization.  Currently my foundation is made of wet, clay bricks.
  • Excel!  We are excel junkies.  All analysis is done in excel…literally everything. And guess what?  The visualizations are frickin awful.  There is no one, single, governed version of the results (quarter end was particularly enjoyable with finance.  They gave one version of the numbers and sales ops provided another.)  I personally want to answer: what WILL happen? Think Excel can do that?  Yep, you are right.  No way!

So what do we need to do to become more analytically driven?  For me it is not a question of whether or not an analytics tool will help me.  It is a question of how to best approach moving forward…

Come back next week to learn about the plan to address these areas…(Oh, and if you are IBM, Qlik or Tableau…I would send a sales rep!!!) Let’s see which vendor calls me first!