Category Archives: Marketing thru Operations

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?

Continue reading Measuring 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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Do NPS / CES Feedback Metrics Predict Retention? Depends…

Survey Says?

Several questions came in on the ability of surveys to predict actual behavior, covered in the post Measuring the $$ Value of Customer Experience (see 2. Data with Surveys). My advice is this: if you are interested in taking action on survey results, make sure to survey specific visitors / people with known behavior if possible, then track subjects over time to see if there is a linkage between survey response and actual behavior.  You should do this at least the first time out for any new type of survey you launch.

Why?  Many times, you will find segments don’t behave as they say they will.  In fact, I have seen quite a few cases where people do the opposite of what was implied from the survey.  This happens particularly frequently with best customers – the specific people you most want to please with modifications to product or process.   So this is important stuff.

You’ve Got Data!

Turns out there’s a new academic (meaning no ax to grind) research study out addressing this area, and it’s especially interesting because the topic of study is ability of customer feedback metrics to predict customer retention.  You know, Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score and so forth, as well as standard customer satisfaction efforts like top-2-box.

The authors find the ability of any of one of these metrics to predict customer retention varies dramatically by industry.  In other words, you might want to verify the approach / metric you are using by tying survey response to actual retention behavior over time.

Continue reading Do NPS / CES Feedback Metrics Predict Retention? Depends…

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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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Does Advertising Success = Business Success?

Digital Analytics / Business Alignment is Getting Better

I recently attended eMetrics Boston and was encouraged to hear a lot of presentations hitting on the idea of tying digital analytics reporting more directly to business outcomes, a topic we cover extensively in the Applying Digital Analytics class I taught after the show. This same kind of idea is also more popular lately in streams coming out of the eMetrics conferences in London and other conferences.  A good thing, given the most frequent C-Level complaint about digital analytics is not having a clear understanding of bottom-line digital impact (for background on this topic, see articles herehere, and here).

Yes, we’ve largely moved beyond counting Visits, Clicks, Likes and Followers to more meaningful outcome-oriented measures like Conversions, Events, Downloads, Installs and so forth.  No doubt the C-Level put some gentle pressure on Marketing to get more specific about value creation, and analysts were more than happy to oblige!

Is Marketing Math the Same as C-Level Math?

Here’s the next thing we need to think about: the context used to define “success”.

In my experience, achieving a Marketing goal does not necessarily deliver results that C-Level folks would term a success.  And here’s what you need to know: C-Level folks absolutely know the difference between these two types of success and in many cases can translate between the two in their heads using simple business math.

Here’s an example.  Let’s say Marketing presents this campaign as a success story:

Continue reading Does Advertising Success = Business Success?

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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.

Continue reading Member Retention in Professional Orgs

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Relational vs. Transactional

The following is from the September 2009 Drilling Down Newsletter (original title:  Customer Retention for Restaurants).  Got a question about Customer Measurement, Management, Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection?  Just ask your question.  Also, feel free to leave a comment.

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

Q:  I am hoping you can help answer a question for our team.  By way of introduction, I am the CEO of XXXX.  We are a specialty retailer / restaurant of gourmet pizza, salads and sandwiches.  We would like to know  restaurant industry averages (pizza industry if possible) for customer retention – What percentage of customers that have ordered once from a particular restaurant order from them a second time?  I am hoping with your years of expertise and harnessing data you may be able to assist us with this question.  Look forward to hearing from you.

A:  Unfortunately, in those said years of experience, I have found little hard information on customer retention rates in QSR and restaurants in general (if anyone has data, please leave in Comments).  It’s just the nature of the business that little hard data, if collected, is stored in such a way that one can aggregate at the customer level.  The high percentage of cash transactions doesn’t help matters much; there’s a lot of data missing.

Over the years, sometimes you see data leak out for tests of loyalty programs, and of course clients sometimes have anecdotal or survey data, but this is not much help in getting to a “true” retention rate.  More often than not you discover serious biases in the way the data was collected so at best, you have a biased view of a narrow segment.  Often what you get is a notion of retention among best customers, or customers willing to sign up for a loyalty card, but not all customers.  And the large “middle” group of customers is where all the Marketing leverage is.

What to do about this predicament?  

There are really two issues in your question; the idea of using industry benchmarks when analyzing customer performance, and the measurement of retention in restaurants.

Continue reading Relational vs. Transactional

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The Other 3 P’s

It’s interesting most folks that consider themselves Marketers, especially of the online variety, seem to only discuss and have ideas about Advertising.  But of the 4 P’s that make up Marketing – Product (which includes People), Price, Place (channel), and Promotion – Promotion (Advertising) is the weakest element of the four.

I say weakest because Advertising cannot fix a poorly thought out Product, Pricing Strategy, or Distribution system.  It just can’t.  Yet huge amounts of money are wasted trying to do exactly that.

Perhaps this why someone feels they need to publish a book that tells people Product is important in Marketing.  To me, that’s the most circular or redundant idea for a Marketing book I’ve ever heard.

Marketing starts with Product, which should include all the audience or market segmentation studies (People) that drive the creation of the Product – defining the need.  If you do this first and develop a Product which truly fills the need, AND you get the Pricing and Distribution right, the Product will literally sell itself to the core audience.

If you can make it that far, THEN the Product can perhaps be sold to the next segment out from the core through Advertising.  All “Marketers” should know this.

Continue reading The Other 3 P’s

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Post-Action Dissonance

You may have heard of this concept as Post-Purchase Dissonance, an area where more research has been done, but the fact is that many actions other than purchase create dissonance.

This area of  Psychology is more generally referred to as Cognitive Dissonance.  Along with Norms of Reciprocity, Dissonance is one of the most important pieces of Psychology for today’s Marketing folks to understand.   This is doubly true if you are serious about using a two-way Social model in Marketing.

Here’s why:  The Social sword has two edges.  If you are going to use a two-way Relationship Marketing approach, you will create higher expectations with those who Engage.  If you fail to perform, or just act like an Advertiser would, then you will end up creating more damage than if you had simply ignored the two-way idea.

For Marketing, the important idea to understand is the human brain always questions actions taken, however briefly, and tries to resolve conflict.  Any unresolved conflicts tend to taint the action, they create Friction, and drive down the Potential Value of the experience.

The important action item for Marketers is to know this will happen beforehand, and take steps to counteract the Dissonance.  The result will be customers who have generally better experiences, and you know what that means, right?

In other words, by planning for Post-Action Dissonance you are using a Prediction that increases Profits or cuts Costs down the road.

Continue reading Post-Action Dissonance

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Marketing Jump Ball

Marketing Accountability.

Brand is what you do, not what you say

Marketing Alignment.

Here are 3 free webinars you might want to take advantage of.  You might not agree with these opinions, but hey, it’s a good idea to get out of the echo chamber once and awhile, don’t you think?  Try these online sessions for a little brain stretching:


Moving Marketing From “The Money Spenders” to The Money MAKERS
April 15, 2009  noon ET    Jonathan Salem Baskin, Jim Sterne, Jim Novo

With 10% of marketing executives being perceived as strategic and influential by the C-suite there’s clearly a crisis of confidence.  I’ve mentioned Jonathan’s blog and book before and here’s a chance to hear a bit of the inside story.  You’ll learn how to exceed expectations of both C-suite executives and customers, neutralize political feuds by organizing cross-departmentally, and how to stop thinking like a reporter and start acting like an advisor


Everything They’ve Told You About Marketing Is Wrong
April 21, 2009   1pm ET  Ron Shevlin

Are you sick and tired of reading the same old blah, blah, blah, from the so- called marketing experts who just tell you stuff you already know? Then you need to attend this session as the grumpy old man cuts through the morass of bad advice and introduces you to the must-dos in the new world of marketing.  I know Ron personally (as in offline) and even if you disagree, you will be entertained.


What Online Marketers Can Teach Offline Colleagues (and vice versa)
May 19, 2009  noon ET     Kevin Hillstrom, Akin Arikan, and Jim Novo

A WAA event, open to both members and non-members.  Web analysts are not the first to grapple with multiple channels.  Traditional marketers have always had to illuminate customer behavior across stores, call center, direct mail, etc.  So, rather than reinventing the wheel in each camp, what proven methods can you teach each other?  Three different but aligned approaches on solving the multichannel puzzle, should be something for everyone here.


Take your brain out for some exercise, will ya?


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