Archive for Scot Wheeler

A Hybrid Discipline Diagram for Digital Marketing in 2013

Posted by Scot Wheeler on December 19th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I've previously used this space to write about the dangers and downfalls of organizational silos. As we move into 2013, I thought it might be useful to share a visualization of at least one way that digital marketing organizations could more effectively be structured to deliver against the multiple considerations required for effective digital experience delivery.
At the center of this structure are the drivers of digital marketing: consumer behaviors, organizational operations, consumer attitudes, the competitive landscape and organizational objectives. The order given in this diagram is indicative of influences across these drivers; corporate operations shape consumer attitudes, attitudes shape the competitive landscape, competition shapes objectives, and objectives determine the types of experiences consumers may have with a company, and thus shape behavior. And of course, behaviors (i.e leads, purchases, referrals, complaints) determines the resources with which a company can operate – closing the loop.
The next circle out shows the disciplines that a digital marketing organization can use to understand what’s happening in the inner circle; the Analytics and Research disciplines. Research is the older and more established marketing discipline, helping to align organizational operations and objectives (i.e. through marketing mix modeling), evaluating attitudes through panels, surveys and focus groups, and... Read more

Strategy and Tactics: A Mutual Exclusion Fallacy

Posted by Scot Wheeler on August 30th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Going about the work of digital marketing, I frequently hear a common theme from clients and colleagues; “I/we don’t want to be stuck doing tactical work. I/we want to do more strategic stuff”.
Being the “strategic partner” or the “strategy guru” setting direction and vision at 10,000 feet is what everyone seems to define as more important work, while the “in the weeds” business around tactics and execution seems to be considered far less sexy.
There are many things wrong with letting this veneration of “strategy” and false distancing of strategy from “tactics” take over your personal or organizational thinking.
The simple fact is that sound strategy depends on having good information, and information or data gathering is a tactical endeavor. Even more importantly, strategy that provides a unique competitive advantage only comes from having information that your competitors don’t have. Finally, even the best strategy means nothing without capabilities and effective execution. Thus strategy that doesn’t also consider tactics and logistics is useless in practical terms.
The Mythical “Strategy Guru”
What I typically see manifesting as the result of the common notion of “strategic work” is a diminishment of the value of unique data, and the enlargement of the individual... Read more

Big Data Dreams: A Wake-up Call

Posted by Scot Wheeler on August 21st, 2012 at 7:16 am

Following on the heels of “develop our social media strategy” and “develop our model for social media ROI”, the latest critical “to-do” item for digital marketing teams is “utilize big data”.
Like the two prior objectives mentioned above, digital marketing managers are feeling pressured to take action on an approach that has become prevalent in business and mainstream media, and that has resultantly reached the general attention of executive management, prompting them to whip-up a frenzy of activity to ensure that they’re keeping their company up with the latest digital trends.
All three of these digital marketing activities have true potential to drive more effective marketing. Unfortunately, for the first two, the sense of urgency and intensity surrounding their introduction in most organizations in combination with a persistent general oversimplification of the effort required to achieve them and a risk aversion that has spawned experiments rather than true investments has resulted in unrealistic expectations, disappointment at results, and a failure to fund the subsequent effort that would actually ultimately deliver the expected returns.
The Next Big Thing
The current interest in building a “Big Data” approach to marketing runs this same risk. The topic of “Big Data” is everywhere, with promises... Read more

Preparing for Digital Marketing in 2016: An Organizational Optimization Odyssey

Posted by Scot Wheeler on June 5th, 2012 at 9:10 am

A look at any analysis or forecast of advertising spending shows that spending on digital advertising is growing faster than any other channel. This year, online spending has surpassed print spending for the first time ever, and forecasts from Forrester to Zenith Optimedia predict continued growth in digital spending, with Forrester suggesting that digital will surpass television spending by 2016.
Marketing organizations are the ones making this happen, but as was seen with the social media bubble of the last few years, simply recognizing the need to put investment into a medium does not create effective marketing.
Marketers invested in social media because they understood that there is tremendous marketing value in having their brand or product discussed casually and organically and in being referred and promoted within like-minded cohorts. Unfortunately, by carrying forward their ingrained historical tendency to control the brand and stay on-message, most marketers wound up on the wrong side of the audiences they were trying to attract.
Marketers continue to pursue a broad array of digital (and mobile) channels because they understand that this is where their audience is moving. However, if they attempt to bring their historical approach to marketing with them into these new channels,... Read more

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

Posted by Scot Wheeler on February 22nd, 2012 at 5:55 am

Biased cultures of digital marketing testing in organizations exist because of risk-aversion in the management culture. In such environments, managers see little gain in expending political capital to try testing digital approaches that might not work, even if they also might work. This is especially true when they are rewarded for efforts to fine-tune what is already working.
In these cultures, digital marketers will test variations of demand generation approaches to attract more of the segments they’ve pre-determined as “qualified” consumers based on their similarity to past consumers. They will test variations of marketing pages to drive these same consumers into a purchase funnel. And they will test variations of purchase funnels to tweak conversion rates by a few points of a percent.
What such cultures will not test is whether what’s being done now is really the best approach, or if there are ways to expand on the current approach. It will not test whether the segments of the market that aren’t being targeted, or those that are have been dismissed as “unqualified” based on attrition in the path to purchase could actually have become customers with a different approach to demand generation or their experience in the conversion... Read more