Category Archives: Analytical Culture

Measuring dis-Engagement

Engagement Matters – Until it Ends.  Right?

Here’s something that continues to puzzle me about all the efforts around measuring Engagement and using these results as a business metric or model of online behavior.

If Engagement is so important to evaluate – and it can be, depending on how you define it – then doesn’t the termination of Engagement also have to be important?  If you desire to create Engagement, shouldn’t you also care about why / how it fails or ends? And if the end is important, what about how long Engagement lasts as a “quality” metric?

Seems logical the end of Engagement might matter.  Let’s call it dis-Engagement.  Simple concept really: of the visitors / customers that are Engaged today (however you define Engagement), what percent of them are still Engaged a week later?  3 months later?

Whatever dis-Engagement metric you decide to use, a standard measurement would create an even playing field for evaluating the quality of Engagement you create.  From there, a business could invest in approaches producing the most durable outcome.

Since Engagement is almost always defined as an interaction of some kind, tracking dis-Engagement could be standardized using metrics rooted in human behavior.  Recency is one of the best metrics for an idea like this because it’s universal, easy to understand, and can be mapped across sources like products and campaigns.  Recency is also predictive; it provides comparative likelihoods, e.g. this segment is likely more engaged than that one.

Plus, using Recency would align online customer measurement with offline tools and practices.  This could have implications for ideas like defining “current channel”, e.g. customer is now engaged with this channel, has dis-engaged from that channel.

Taking this path brings up a couple of other related ideas, in line with the discussion around customer journey and entwined with the whole customer experience movement.

Peak Engagement

Let’s say there is Engagement, and because we’re now measuring dis-Engagement, we see Engagement end.  So, is Engagement a one-shot state of being, meaning the value should be measured as such?  Or, does longer lasting Engagement have value, and if so, what about when it ends? Shouldn’t we want to find the cause of dis-Engagement?

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Marketing Responsible for Customer Experience?

 The Data

According to this survey, Marketers are not now really “responsible”  for the customer experience (whatever responsible means in this context) but will be over the next 3 years.  If it was just the vendor (Marketo) trumpeting this idea, I’d be more skeptical.  But this vendor hired the Intelligence Unit from The Economist organization to do this work and the report includes the actual questions, meaning you can check for bias.  Population is 478 CMO’s and senior marketing executives worldwide, seems decent / not cherry-picked.

So I will cut the vendor some slack.   Questions though, right?  Just what is customer experience, in particular for the purposes of success measurement?  How does it fit with related ideas like Customer Journey / LifeCycle and Engagement?  Certainly if the above is a significant macro trend we ought to sort this all out first?  And of course, putting some analytical rigor (structure, process, and definitions?) in place to support the effort ;)

The Story

I know a lot of marketing people who have either had this authority for years (multi-channel database marketing) or are moving in this direction, so the results make sense to me.  To be clear(er), “experience” for these people reaches all the way back from UX into fulfillment and service.  So when they talk about experience, they are talking visitor and customer; not just navigation and landing pages, but also shipping times and return rates.

Perhaps increased access to customer data is revealing the significant impact customer experience in this larger sense has on long-term customer value?  This idea, coupled with increased focus on accountability (also covered in the survey) could be driving this trend.

Worth the read, only 20 pages long with a lot of charts.  Here’s 4 snippets to hook you:

Continue reading Marketing Responsible for Customer Experience?

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Is Your Digital Budget Big Enough?

At a high level, 2014 has been a year of questioning the productivity of digital marketing and related measurement of success.  For example, the most frequent C-level complaint about digital is not having a clear understanding of bottom-line digital impact. For background on this topic, see articles herehere, and here.

I’d guess this general view probably has not been helped by the trade reporting on widespread problems in digital ad delivery and accountability systems, where (depending on who you ask) up to 60% of delivered “impressions” were likely fraudulent in one way or another.  People have commented on this problem for years; why it took so long for the industry as a whole to fess up and start taking action on this is an interesting question!

If the trends above continue to play out, over the next 5 years or so we may expect increasing management focus on more accurately defining the contribution of digital – as long as management thinks digital is important to the future of the business.

If the people running companies are having a hard time determining the value of digital to their business, the next logical thought is marketers / analysts probably need to do a better job demonstrating these linkages, yes?  Along those lines, I think it would be helpful for both digital marketers and marketing analytics folks to spend some time this year thinking about and working through two of the primary issues driving this situation:

1.  Got Causation?  How success is measured

In the early days of digital, many people loved quoting the number of “hits” as a success measure.  It took a surprisingly long time to convince these same people the number of files downloaded during a page view did not predict business success ;)

Today, we’re pretty good at finding actions that correlate with specific business metrics like visits or sales, but as the old saying goes, correlation does not imply causation.

If we move to a more causal and demonstrable success measurement system, one of the first ideas you will encounter, particularly if there are some serious data scientists around, in the idea of incremental impact or lift.  This model is the gold standard for determining cause in much of the scientific community.  Personally, I don’t see why with all the data we have access to now, this type of testing is not more widely embraced in digital.

Continue reading Is Your Digital Budget Big Enough?

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Omni-Channel Cost Shifting

One of the great benefits customer lifecycle programs bring to the party is unearthing cross-divisional or functional profitability opportunities that otherwise would fall into the cracks between units and not be addressed.  What I think most managers in the omni-channel space may not realize (yet) is how significant many of these issues can be.

To provide some context for those purely interested in the marketing side, this idea joins quite closely to the optimizing for worst customers and sales cannibalization discussions, but is more concerned with downstream operational issues and finance.  Cost shifting scenarios will become a lot more common as omnichannel concepts pick up speed.

Shifty Sales OK, Costs Not?

Why is cost shifting important to understand?  Many corporate cultures can easily tolerate sales shifting between channels because of the view that “any sale is good”.  On the ground, this means sourcing sales accurately in an omni-channel environment requires too much effort relative to the perceived benefits to be gained.  Fair enough; some corporate cultures simply believe any sale is a good sale even if they lose money on it!

Cost shifting  tends to be a different story though, because the outcomes show up as budget variances and have to be explained.  In many ways, cost shifting is also easier to measure, because the source is typically simple to capture once the issue surfaces.  And as a cultural issue, people are used to the concept of dealing with budget variances.

Here’s a common case:

Continue reading Omni-Channel Cost Shifting

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“Missing” Social Media Value

I have no doubt there is some value in social beyond what can be measured, as this has been the case for all marketing since it began ;)  The problem is this value is often situational, not too mention not properly measured using an incremental basis (as you point out).
For example,  to small local businesses who do no other form of advertising, there is a huge amount of relative value to using social media, versus no advertising at all.  Some advertising is much better than none, and since it’s free, the incremental value created by (properly) using social is huge.
On the other hand, I wonder why social analysis seems to forget that people have to be aware of you to “Like” you in the first place.  Further, it seems unlikely a person would “Like” a brand or product if they have not already experienced it, and are already a fan.  If this is not true, if people “Like” a company even thought they do not (paid to Like?), then the problems with social go way beyond analysis…
But if true, , the number of “Likes” doesn’t have as much to do with awareness as it does with size of customer base, and is much more aligned with tracking customer issues (retention, loyalty) than anything to do with awareness / acquisition.
Add the fact many companies are running lots of advertising designed to create awareness, and the incremental value of social as a “media” may be close to zero, or at least less than the cost to analyze the true value of it.
And this last, really, is the core of the issue.  It’s simply not possible to measure “all” the value created by any kind of marketing, and there are hugely diminishing returns as you try to capture the last bits.  I think it’s quite possible the optimism for “value beyond what can be measured” is less than the cost of measuring it *if* people keep looking in the awareness / acquisition field.
Folks who want to find this “missing” social value should start doing customer analysis, and look in the “retention / loyalty” area, where the whole idea of social is a natural, rather than a forced, fit.

Has to be There

I find it really interesting that whenever there is a discussion of measuring the value of social media, there’s such a bias towards believing there is value in social beyond what can be properly measured.  See the comments following this post by Avinash for a good example.  Speculation is fine, but the confidence being expressed that a new tool or method will uncover a treasure trove of social media value seems un-scientific (as in scientific method) at best.

I don’t doubt there is some value in social media beyond what can be measured, as this has been the case for all marketing since marketing measurement began.  These measurement problems are not new to social either:  Marketing value created is often situational, it depends on the business model and environment.  What works in one situation may not work in another.

For example:

To small local businesses who do no other form of advertising, there is a huge amount of relative value to using social media versus no advertising at all.  Social advertising is much better than none, and since it’s free, the incremental value created by (properly) using social is huge.  It’s also really easy to measure the impact and true value, since the baseline control is “no advertising”.  Lift, or actual net marketing performance, can be pretty obvious in his case.

On the other hand, many companies are running lots of advertising designed to create awareness, and the incremental value of social as a “media” may be close to zero for these companies, or at least less than the cost to analyze the true value of it.  Possible explanation:  Social events such as “Likes” or comments are simply representations or affirmations of awareness already created by other media, so by themselves, create little value.  In other words, events such as Likes might track the value of other media spending, but may not create much additional marketing value.

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All Talk, No #Measure

Hypocrisy in Web Analytics?

Before every eMetrics (I’ll be in San Fran teaching Basecamp, at the Gala, etc.), I try to ask myself, what is the most critical issue facing the web analyst community right now?  Then, at the show, I ask everyone I run into what they think about this issue.

There’s lots of issues to choose from.  Career path I think is a big area of discussion, given the mergers in the space and trend towards outsourcing.  Then there’s the “we don’t get no respect” thing; senior management doesn’t seem to listen / understand / act on the information provided.  And one of my favorites from the past is still out there, data torture – people being pressured to manipulate data to reach a predetermined analytical outcome.

But seems to me, more important at this juncture is trying to resolve why there is so much written about the importance of “the customer” but very little measurement at the customer level.  Think about it.  Customer experience, customer centricity, the entire social thing, it’s all about customers.

But when folks wants to trot out “proof” that this or that approach is the road to the promised land, they analyze impressions, visits, clicks, etc.  Visitor-level stuff.  Does that seem like the correct approach to you?  Seems to me, if you want to provide knowledge about customers, you should measure customers.

Continue reading All Talk, No #Measure

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But What is an Impression Worth?

Seems like coming up with a value for social media has become a cottage industry, for example, $3.60 Facebook Fan Valuation Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg.  These values are often derived from what is paid for online media.  So you have to ask, if someone is basing the value of a Facebook fan on the value of impressions generated, what is the real value of those impressions?  Because unless this is known, the whole framework is faulty.

Just because you pay $5 / CPM for impressions, does not mean they are worth $5 / CPM, does it?  Do people really still have that kind of mentality?  Is the price of the media equivalent to its value?

For example, I’m sure you have heard of multi-million dollar campaigns that generate very little lift in sales.  Happens frequently in fast food, for example.  What is the value of that media?  Is it the millions paid?

What really blows my mind about this approach is it’s so offline, so old school PR. Do the folks who put forth these kinds of models believe nothing has changed in 50 years?  What happened to the whole rap of online being “different”, that you can’t measure it like offline, blah blah.

Except when it’s convenient to do so?

If you want to know the value of a Facebook fan, why not measure the value of a Facebook fan?  Because it’s hard, and would require organizational discipline?  Too bad.   Substituting the kind of models used in the example above for actually measuring the value of a Facebook fan is misleading at the very best.

Continue reading But What is an Impression Worth?

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When Does a Visitor Need a Coupon?

The following is from the November 2010 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: First off, I very much appreciate you sharing all this wonderful content on your blog and conferences such as eMetrics.

A: Thanks for that!

Q: My question is a simple one, but I think the answer may be hard: When does a visitor “need” a coupon?  *Need* defined as: visitor would not have placed an order unless presented with the coupon.

A: Hmmm…methinks we’re going to have to define a few concepts and be clear on the goals to make sure we are nailing this down… visitor versus customer, sales versus profit, etc.  In other words, answer is not hard, but could be complex without defining context.

Q: It’s still a mystery to me why so many retailers seem more than willing to hand over all their margins to Groupon or give coupons to basically all visitors.  I am curious whether you would approach this question using  observational data (eg web analytics) or experiments (eg AB testing), or both.

A: Right – is a mystery to me too!

There are certain situations where this approach might be appropriate, but the problem with much web “marketing” (which often is really just advertising without much thought about marketing) is often there is success in a narrow or special situation.  Then the pundits jump on and say “if you’re not doing this you are stupid”, regardless of the business situation and / or without recognizing the special circumstances that are driving success.  This is all the real Marketing stuff people leave out; understanding why it works, under what circumstances, for which segments, involving which products.

Continue reading When Does a Visitor Need a Coupon?

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LTV, RFM, LifeCycles – the Framework

The following is from the May 2010 Drilling Down Newsletter.  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply.

Want to see the answers to previous questions?  Here’s the blog archive; the pre-blog newsletter archives are here.

Q: I visited your website because I am trying to understand how to develop a customer LifeTime Value model for the company that I work at.  The reason is we are looking at LTV as a way to standardize the ROI measurement of different customer programs.

Not all of these programs are Marketing, some are Service, and some could be considered “Operations”.  But they all touch the customer, so we were thinking changes in customer value might be a common way to measure and compare the success of these programs.

A: Absolutely!  I just answered a question very much like this the other day, it’s great that people are becoming interested in customer value as the cross-enterprise common denominator for understanding success in any customer program!

If I am the CEO, I control dollars I can invest.  How do I decide where budget is best invested if every silo uses different metrics to prove success?  And even worse, different metrics for success within the same silo?

By establishing changes in customer value as the platform for all customer-related programs to be measured against, everyone is on an equal footing and can “fight” fairly for their share of the budget (or testing?) pie.  By using controlled testing, customers can be exposed to different treatments and lift in value can be compared on an apples to apples basis – even if you are comparing the effect of a Marketing Campaign to changes in the Service Center.

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Inside WAA Certification: Any Questions?

The WAA has published a lot of info about the new WAA Certification Exam; you might want to first read the FAQ and take a look at the application information and Exam Handbook for the organizational details, and you can see sample questions from the Test at the bottom of the page here.  But something I can just about guarantee about the Certification – no matter how much info the WAA publishes about it, many people will still have questions!

So here, I will attempt to answer other kinds of questions I think people might have based on my discussions with WAA members.

Update: The WAA has answered many Certification questions here.

However, I’m going to approach this topic a bit differently than most of the published documentation – from a Product / Marketing perspective, rather than an Educational / WAA POV.  I can do this because (if you don’t know) I have worn all the hats on this project – developer, marketer, WAA project owner – and I think it might be helpful to tell the business story of the WAA Certification, from the bottom up.

And if you have other questions, feel free to leave them in Comments and I will do my best to answer them!

Continue reading Inside WAA Certification: Any Questions?

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