Category Archives: DataBase Marketing

Optimizing for Customer Value

The following is from the February 2011 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: Thank you for creating this useful website!

A: You’re welcome!

Q: When figuring out retention rate for an annual or a 8 months life time cycle period, how do I pick the starting period?  Do I look at their first orders on a date?  Or I pick a time frame such as one month?

A: It depends on:

1. What kind of “retention” you are talking about, the definition, which is probably impacted by the audience for the data

2.  What you will do with the retention data, what kind of decisions will be made and actions be taken because of the data

You should always ask these questions above  when someone requests “retention data” – or any other kind of analysis, for that matter!  For example, there probably is a huge difference in what you would provide to the Board of Directors for an annual benchmark and what you would provide to Marketing people for executing campaigns.

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Freemium Customer Conversion

The following is from the October 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 was wondering if you’ve done any work with, or given thought to, companies who have a cloud based Freemium business model?

Should they be tracking usage (or anything) at the free level?  Should they be tracking usage at the paid level?  I’m sure defection rates are a big problem, but I’m wondering how many focus on engagement thru mass marketing versus trying to keep what they’ve got, or influence the free users to make the leap to paid.  Any thoughts on this?  Maybe you could do a blog post on it.  It seems like a good fit with your brand of analysis but I’m just starting to think it through…

A: I just finished an analysis that’s a good example of this problem.  Behavior during the Freemium period can predict who is highly likely to become a paying customer, who will need marketing efforts like additional sampling / package discounts, and who will not become a customer no matter what you do.

Continue reading Freemium Customer Conversion

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Segmentation by LTD & LifeCycle

The following is from the July 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: One of the first things I am doing in my new job is to identify the Customer Lifecycle pattern – how many periods (month, year) will it be before a customer is likely buy again.  In enterprise software industry, where software cost easily 6 figures, # of years is a reasonable time frame.

A: Yes, one would assume this.  But these notions would most likely be based on a feeling of the “average” behavior, and on average, it probably does take a long time.

What is not known is this:  if the “average” is composed of short-cycle and long-cycle buyers, who are the short cycle buyers, and what are they like?  What industry SIC code, for example?  And can we get more of them, or at least focus more resources on them, if they are the most profitable?  So the challenge is not only to look for the “average”, but then understand how this average is composed.  If you can break down the average by industry, or by salesperson, for example, this might be highly directional information.

Q: From my internal analysis, however, I discerned from the sales figures something quite counterintuitive – the period between first and next sale is much shorter than I would have thought for the SW industry in general.

Continue reading Segmentation by LTD & LifeCycle

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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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Control Groups in Small Populations

The following is from the January 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: Thank you for your recent article about Control Groups.  Our organization launched an online distance learning program this past August, and I’ve just completed some student behavior analysis for this past semester.

Using weekly RF-Scores based on Recently and Frequently they’ve logged in to courses within the previous three weeks, I’m able to assess their “Risk Level”– how likely they are to stop using the program.  We had a percentage who discontinued the program, but in retrospect, their login behavior and changes in their login behavior gave strong indication they were having trouble before they completely stopped using it.

A: Fantastic!  I have spoken with numerous online educators about this application of Recency – Frequency modeling, as well online research subscriptions, a similar behavioral model.  All reported great results predicting student / subscriber defection rates.

Q: I’m preparing to propose a program for the upcoming semester where we contact students by email and / or phone when their login behavior gives indication that they’re having trouble.  My hope is that by proactively contacting these students, we can resolve issues or provide assistance before things escalate to the point they defect completely.

A: Absolutely, the yield (% students / revenue retained) on a project like this should be excellent.  Plus, you will end up learning a lot about “why”, which will lead to better executions of the “potential dropout” program the more you test it.

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Acting on Buyer Engagement

Over the years I’ve argued that there is a single, easy to track metric for buyer engagement – Recency.  Though you can develop really complex models for purchase likelihood, just knowing “weeks since last purchase” gets you a long way to understanding how to optimize Marketing and Service programs for profit.

Which brings me to the latest Marketing Science article I have reviewed for the Web Analytics Association, Dynamic Customer Management and the Value of One-to-One Marketing, where the researchers find “customized promotions yield large increases in revenue and profits relative to uniform promotion policies”.  And what variable is most effective when customizing promotions?

The researchers took 56 weeks of purchase behavior from an online store, and used the first 50 weeks to construct a predictive model of purchase behavior.   Inputs to the model included Price, presence of Banner Ads, 3 types of promotions, order sizes, number of orders, merchandise category, demographics, and weeks since last purchase (Recency).

The last 6 weeks of data were used to test the predictive power of the model, and the answer to which variable is most predictive of purchase is displayed in the chart below, click to enlarge:

Weeks since last purchase dominated the predictive power of the model, controlling not only the Natural purchase rate (labeled Baseline in chart above, people who received no promotions) but the response to all three different types of promotion.

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Choosing the Size of Control Groups

The following is from the December 2009 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 am a big fan of your web site and read your Drilling Down book. Great work!

A:  Thanks for the kind words!

Q:  I was wondering if you could help me picking the right control group size for a project of ours?  The population is 25 million telco customers that for which we want to do a long term impact analysis (month by month) in regards to revenue increase versus control group.  The marketing initiatives are mix of retention, lifecycle and tactical/seasonal activities.  We want to measure revenue increase through any of the marketing activities compared to control group.

A:   Great project, this is the kind of idea that can really improve margins if you can find out which specific tactics drop the most profit to the bottom line.

Q:   I have searched the web for some help and found calculators that say: On 25 million and smallest expected uplift of 0.1% and highest likely rate of > 5% the calculator gives 250k (1%).  Is that sufficient to calculate the net impact on the remaining base?  Would be very grateful if you could give me your thoughts.

A:  Well, it could be and might not be…

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Customer Value in the Freemium Model

The following is from the November 2009 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: You kindly clarified a few issues when I was reading Drilling Down earlier this year – so I hope you don’t mind the direct email.

A: Yes, I remember!

I am working for www.XYZ.com, a social networking / virtual world site based abroad but visitors are 85% US.

Our growth up to now has been mainly viral and in the summer we hit 1.2M UVs operating on the Freemium model with only 5% of our registered users converting to paying customers and a significant portion of our revenue coming from ads.  On average our customers are active on the site for something like 4 months making their first purchase around day 28. 

But to take us to the next stage we are embarking on some marketing for the first time using AdWords and various revenue share campaigns, and of course to do this sensibly we need to arrive at a reasonable estimate of LTV.

A: Makes sense!

Q: To calculate an adjusted LTV I removed all customers with a lifetime of less than 4 months but this gives a low estimate as this calculation ignores the bumper summer months and the extra paid for features put in place earlier this year.  Calculating LTV using ARPU and monthly churn (not sure how to calculate this in our environment) gives another different estimate.  Is there any help or advice you could perhaps give us?  If not in the US then perhaps you could recommend somebody abroad – can’t find anything in the literature relevant for start-up like us.

A:  It sounds to me like you’re trying to make this too complicated, at least for the place you are at this time.  Monthly churn and the “28 day” threshold are nice to know on a tactical level, but LTV is more of a Strategic idea that does not necessarily benefit from analysis at that level.  And you may not really want LTV, but a derivative that might be more helpful.

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“X Month” Value

The basic concept of LifeTime Value (LTV) was ably outlined by Seth Godin in a great post here.  If you know the average net value of a customer is $2500 over their “Life”, why would you not spend  $50 (or $200, really) to acquire each one?  As long as you stuck to the model, your company would be insanely profitable over time.

Their are 2 primary challenges to implementing this idea.

1.  “Over time” is a concept many management folks have a hard time embracing; what matters are the profits this year, or this quarter, or this month.  Unless the whole company embraces an “over time” measurement approach it is difficult for Marketers and Analysts to drive towards programs and practices supporting the LTV outcome.

2.  The $2500 is an average figure.  Most customers are worth less; 10% or 20% are worth much more.

Most people I talk to embrace the general idea of LTV models intuitively.  It’s really a cash flow concept, isn’t it?

So Financial people get it right away, and if Marketers could align with it, there would be no conflicts and the Marketing budget becomes virtually unlimited.

In fact, many folks in the PPC world follow just this model – they have unlimited budget as long as each conversion costs no more than “X”.  Because the company knows if it spends no more than X on a conversion, it always makes money.   Marketers and Analysts involved with these “Cost < X” PPC programs love them, because Management loves them. 

And Management loves them, why?  Because the CFO loves these programs  Why?  Because they are based on Cash Flow analysis, which CFO’s understand very, very well.

So then, what will it take to get more acquisition budgets like these Cost < X  PPC programs?  We have to address the two challenges above:

Continue reading “X Month” Value

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Member Retention in Professional Orgs

The following is from the October 2009 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 have recently purchased your book Drilling Down and going through the many interesting concepts.

A: Thanks for that!

Q:  I work for a membership Organization and we would like to conduct some analysis into who we may lose and approach them even before their membership lapses.  But the only problem here is that we carry data only on the purchases made (though many of our members do not purchase our products and stay a member) and web site visits.

A:  Are you *sure* that’s all the data you collect?  I once worked with a professional membership org that thought they only had one data source, but turns out they had 8 – from 8 different areas of the org – that nobody really knew about.

Q:  How do I know if a particular member is going to resign and lapse soon with this limited amount of behavioral data.  Recently it’s been a concern that we are losing members who have been with us for more than 10 years and who are in their mid career profession (aged between 30 to 45) and indicated no specific reason for resignation. 

This has been going on for the last few months and now we would like to strategically target these customers and approach them even before they react negative.  What concepts could help me to do this? Your guidance would be much appreciated.

A:  OK, my answer will be in two sections: if you (hopefully) find you have more data than you think, and if you really don’t have any other data to fall back on.

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