Category Archives: Measuring Engagement

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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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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Defining Behavioral Segments

The following is from the April 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: I purchased your book and have a few questions you can hopefully help me out with.

A: Thanks for that, and sure!

Q: We have 4 product lines and 2 of them are seasonal. i.e we have customers that year in year out purchase these items consistently but seasonally, for example, every spring and summer.  Then they are dormant for Fall and Winter.  Should I include these customers along with everyone else when doing an RFM segmentation?

A: Well, it kind of depends what you will using the RF(M) model for, what kinds of marketing programs will be activated by using the scores. If you know you have seasonal customers and their habit is to buy each year, AND you wish to aim retention or reactivation programs at them, I would be tempted to divide the customer base so that seasonal customers are their own segment.  Then run two RF(M)  models – one for the seasonals, and one for everyone else.

Q: If I include seasonal customers, and I run RFM say on a monthly basis, these seasonal customers will climb / fall drastically with time depending on the season, so it seems like it may complicate the scoring process.

A: Sure, and you could segment as I said above.  Or, you could run across a longer time frame, say across 2 – 3 years worth of data. This would “normalize” the two segments into one and take account of the seasonality in the scoring – perhaps be more representative of the business model.  However, the scores would become less sensitive due to the long time frame so the actions of customers less accurately predicted by the model.

Q: Can you provide me with some examples as to how segmentation is carried out?  Let’s say I being with RFM and all my customers are rated 5-5, 5-4, 4-5 etc.  What are the next steps, do we overlay with other characteristics like age, gender, etc?  Or are the 5-3 etc. our actual segments?

A: This goes back to what you want to use the RF(M) model for.  In the standard usage, each score will have roughly the same number of customers in it, those with higher scores will be more likely to respond to marketing and purchase, lower scores less likely.

Continue reading Defining Behavioral Segments

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Increase Profit Using Customer State

The following is from the March 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: We’ve been playing around with Recency / Frequency scoring in our customer email campaigns as described in your book.  To start, we’re targeting best customers who have stopped interacting with us.  I have just completed a piece of analysis that shows after one of these targeted emails:

1. Purchasers increased 22.9%
2. Transactions increased 69%
3. Revenue increased 71%

A: There you go!

Q: My concern is that what I am seeing is merely a seasonal effect – our revenue peaks in July and August.  So what I should have done is use a control group as you described in the book – which is what I am doing for the October Email.

A: Yep, that’s exactly what control groups are for – to strain out the noise of seasonality, other promotions, etc.  But don’t beat yourself up over it, nothing wrong with poking around and trying to figure out where the levers are first.

Q: Two questions:

1.  What statistical test do I use to demonstrate that the observed changes are not down to chance

2.  How big should my control group be – typically our cohort is 500-800 individuals

A: Good questions…

Continue reading Increase Profit Using Customer State

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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.

Continue reading LTV, RFM, LifeCycles – the Framework

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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.

Continue reading Acting on Buyer Engagement

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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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RFM versus LifeCycle Grids

The following is from the August 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. 

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

Q:  First of all, thank you for the excellent book!  I’m really excited about digging into our own customer data to see what we’ll learn.

A:  Thank you for the kind words!

Q:  However, when you’re creating the RF Scores, what is the standard timeframe you should use?  I have access to about 5 years worth of purchase data – should I create RF scores based on the last 5 years, 3 years, 2 years, 6 months?

Our sales are quite cyclical, so I think the baseline should probably be at least a year, and I’m considering doing two years.  It seems as though if I get too much larger than that, my results will be too watered down. 

I’m also planning on generating “historical” RF scores by filtering my data to reflect the purchases only up to a certain point.  So, to generate a Q1-09 score, I’d create it from sales data of Q1-07 through Q1-09.  The Q2-09 score would be from Q2-07 through Q2-09, etc.  Does this make sense?  It will allow us to see the changes that have been happening in our company even though we’re only just now looking at the data.  It will give me a picture of what it would have looked like, had I looked at it back then.

A:  I think you have accurately understood the situation and have the right approach!  This type of analysis is very sensitive to time frame.

There are really 2 broad types of customer analysis.  There is analysis for action in the present, a Tactical approach driving towards a “we should do this now” result, and the more Strategic analysis, which is informational and says “this is what we should have done then” and / or “this is why we should make these business changes”.  The shorter time frame is Tactical, the longer timeframe Strategic.

Continue reading RFM versus LifeCycle Grids

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