January is the month of predictions and trends – with everyone proclaiming what the new year will have in store. Forbes says 2014 is the year “Big Data goes mainstream.” Wired claims 2014 is “the year of actionable data.” And a lot of folks are predicting this is the year marketers adopt a “mobile-first” mentality.
I’m on board with all of these predictions – but also know that more data, smarter technologies and a heightened interest in mobile come with an expectation of delivering a new kind of digital experience – one that is valuable for both the consumer and the marketer.
And according to Forrester, “A great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a make-or-break point for your business as we more fully enter the digital age.”
So as savvy marketers focus their sights on new tools, techniques and processes to help them deliver an impactful digital experience, here are a few key words that should be top of mind in every conversation, every investment, and every decision:
The ‘bigger is better’ mentality around data is shifting. Through a variety of experiments and launched initiatives, marketers have learned that success is not necessarily defined by the size of data but by the relevance of data to the goal at hand. The ingestion of data has become table stakes for marketers – the discovery of unique and actionable insights are the new demand.
Marketers are focused on advancing their analytics capabilities in order to identify useful data nuggets and unique insights. By changing the conversation from ‘what data do we have’ to ‘this is what we need to know’, marketers gain a better understanding of their customers’ behaviors, intentions, and motivators. It’s these learnings that allow them to know how best and when to act.
With the adoption of new marketing technologies comes the expectation of delivering better results – results that drive a systemic impact on the bottom line, not just a one-off improvement in performance. This requires the ability to continually analyze and monitor customer behavior as well as contexts to detect the moments of opportunity, followed by the ability to identify in real-time the marketing treatment sequence having the highest propensity.
Given that this always-on “listening” approach is not humanly possible – especially in the world of mobile – marketers are adopting more sophisticated technologies that incorporate automation to assume an integrated, closed-loop approach and achieve the required precision and scalability.
What’s important and often very difficult for marketers when thinking about their customer engagement efforts is to understand what’s working and what’s not and why. While new data-driven technologies have opened up significant opportunity around automated machine learning in determining how best to optimize marketing efforts, it’s important to realize that the human element is not and should never be replaced.
What marketers gain with these capabilities is a means of understanding, more scientifically, which customers respond to certain offers, which attributes drive positive and negative response, which contexts are important, the optimal messaging, the impact of offer type, timing, how responses change over time, and most importantly, how customers are changing their behaviors throughout the entirety of a campaign.
This window into what’s working across any number of strategies, messages and offers delivered in any number of contexts is essential to better understand the behaviors of customers and identify new marketing strategies.
4. (Incremental) Lift
Measuring marketing success is critical but not always straightforward. What marketers really want to achieve is incremental lift i.e., performance lift above and beyond what would already be achieved.
Appropriate measurement requires a few things. First, marketers need to test and learn whereby they trial marketing campaigns and validate their effectiveness, before deciding whether or not to scale. Next they need to set up an experimental design. This is the only way to determine, with statistical significance, whether the measured performance of a strategy that’s been tested indicates it will be successful at scale. Finally, it’s important to maintain target or test groups and control or “business-as-usual” groups of customers. Only then can marketers get a true read on incremental lift.