Tag Archives: Relationship Marketing

Marketing to Focus on Customer. Analytics?

It’s been very popular among marketing types to talk about “the customer” but seek metrics for affirmation other than those based on or derived from the customer.  Web analysts have followed their lead, and provided Marketers plenty of awareness, engagement, and campaign metrics.  As I’ve said in the past, this is a huge disconnect.  Does it make sense (analytically) to have discussions about customer centricity,  customer experience, customer service, the social customer, etc.  and measure these effects at the impression or visit level?

Is someone who visits or purchases or comments one time really a customer, for the purposes of analyzing “centricity” ideas and concepts?  I think not.  Visit metrics simply don’t work for understanding these customer concepts, because by definition they unfold over time, not as single events.   Add in the fact most web activity is 1x in nature – even buyers – and you begin to realize that analyzing “traffic” yields very little in the way of “customer” insight.

From a Marketing perspective, hey, happy to have the 1x revenue, but these are interactions I’m not really excited about increasing spend on, knowing they will be a one-night stands.  This is especially true when you also know re-allocating some of the funds spent on the 90% 1x-ers to the other 10% could double company profits!

If you have followed my writings over the past 12 years, none of the above perspective is new.  What might be changing is this: more people in the online world are beginning to think the same way.

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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.

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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.

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Adoption and Abandonment

Out of the Wharton School we have a nice piece of behavioral research on the effect speed of Adoption has on longer-term commitment.  The article, The Long-term Downside of Overnight Success, describes research finding “the adoption velocity has a negative effect on the cumulative number of adopters”. 

This research dovetails nicely with a lot of the topics discussed here on the blog lately, so I thought I’d use it (with a nod to Godin’s post on Strategy vs. Tactics today) to provide some fodder for thought.

First, the importance of Psychology in Marketing.  So many of the “discoveries” arrived at through  brute force testing of Online Advertising are already well known in the greater discipline of Marketing through Psychology.  For more on this read “The Other 3P’s” and if you’d like to do something about lack of knowledge in this area, make sure to read this comment on source books.

Second, this research is a great example of isolating the true drivers of behavior.  The idea of looking at baby names to isolate the real behavior from “technology and other commercial effects” while including “symbolic meaning about identity” results in a broad, Strategic-level answer to the question, not a Tactical one. 

Why is this important?  It means the results can be applied across a host of different Marketing situations, rather than only a specific one. 

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Loyalty Program Structure & Tracking

The following is from the July 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:  I’m involved in a loyalty program analytics project.  This client is a local pharmacy.  All sales are done directly in store, the web site is just for communication purposes.  The general problem we are trying to solve is the manager doesn’t have any detailed ideas about shoppers behavior apart from human observation. 

The idea is to launch a card-based loyalty program which will track sales activity and give insight into customer behavior.  The program will be points-based calculated on amount spent.  Points can be redeemed as rebates, coupons, gift certificates, or use points to buy items in loyalty program catalog.

The task is to segment customers according to their recent purchase behavior and determine the customer lifecycle.  I’ve been able to do some basic analysis using the R package and MySQL database, but am unable to detect customer lifecycle. 

Can you please give me guidance on this?

A:  What is the Objective of detecting the LifeCycle, to create a more “active” customer retention program?  Loyalty programs can be quite “passive” and often benefit from a more active overlay.  But there can be many reasons to want to understand the LifeCycle…

Q:  My 2nd task is to use the behavioral data with demographics to  build a direct marketing strategy and provide management with insight into the customer base, for example: percent new customers, % of Gold customers who passed to Silver in last quarter.

A:  Again, it would be helpful to understand how management would take action on this data.  But I suppose you are in the common position of not knowing the tactical approach, and nobody will lay it out for you (a.k.a. they are clueless)…and you don’t know the right questions to ask or how to ask them.

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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.

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Norms of Reciprocity

Social Marketing Doesn’t Rely on Social Media

Do you believe human beings share certain fundamental traits that define “being human”?

If so, do you believe that human beings tend to behave in certain ways under certain circumstances?

If so, do you then believe since human behavior has these tendencies, it can often be predicted?

If so, then do you think perhaps the study of Psychology and Sociology might provide you some clues to creating successful businesses, campaigns, products, and services?  While your friends and competitors are all iterating their way into oblivion?

On the web, time and time again, we see the same themes repeating.  Yet with each introduction of a new technology, these themes tend to be treated like a new discovery, even though the theme has been well established in the past.

Norms of Reciprocity is a constant human theme.  You may know the expression of these norms as “Sharing”.  Web old timers will probably recognize this idea as “Give, then Take” from the I-Sales discussion list as early as 1995.  In various forms, this theme goes back to the beginning of human history, all the way back to the handshake and other greeting gestures.  This same theme is embedded in countless Religions all over the world: “Do onto others as you would wish them do onto you”.  At least a couple centuries old, this idea.

Norms of Reciprocity simply means this: When you do something nice for a human being, help them in some way, this human tends to feel Gratitude towards “the doer” and tends to do something nice back.  Gratitude drives the desire to Reciprocate, because it’s just what humans do, it’s normal, a “norm”.

Norms of Reciprocity.

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Relationship Marketing in Manufacturing

The following is from the February 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:  Do the principals in the Drilling Down book apply to manufacturing?  I was first introduced to Relationship Marketing in an MBA course years ago.  I have been looking for an opportunity to test these ideas and now find that chance in this job (I was and still am a foot soldier, but now have more responsibility in these areas).  

Manufacturers typically look at the highest revenue-producing customer, then pull out the manufacturing directory and start calling every company in the same business.  Not really marketing.  Can CRM be used to mine the data we need to be predictive and focused on the value of customers and retention?

ASure, same core issues and metrics apply:

1. Retention: Identify best customers, determine order cycles, set up a report that tells you who “should have” ordered but did not based past on past history, either market to them or send this info to sales, depending on the value of the customer.

2. Recapture / Defection: Identify best customers who have stopped purchasing and find out why, take action aligned with the value of the customer.  You may not get these customers back, but you will learn critically valuable information that will help you retain customers in the future – is there reason in common why these customers left you?  Was there a common Salesperson?  A common Product line?  A common type of Machine used?  A common Material?  Take these findings back into Operations and find out if the issue can be corrected.

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Best Seller Gone Bad

Electronic keyboards were expensive in the 80’s and early 90’s, especially good ones.  Then came Casio, and the whole business changed.  At HSN, we loved the electronic keyboard business.

The category was made for TV shopping – the demonstrations were killer, and with all the new-fangled automation on board, “anybody can play the keyboard”.  In HSN language, “keyboards screamed” and you always got a call center “whoosh” – the sound you hear when inbound calls ramp from 100 to 1000 in 30 seconds.

So I’m talking with the keys merchant, and he says they’re having a supply disruption, and there will be challenges keeping the keys in stock because they sell so well.  This is a problem for me, because I’m publishing the monthly customer (offline) magazine and we’ve got some layouts and articles on the product.

I ask for a simple merchandising run on the SKUs to get a feeling for product in pipeline, to see if maybe I have to kill the spread.  We’ve sold 45,000 of the little beggars, which is pretty good for (what was then) a $500+ item.  It averages about $1,000 a minute in Margin, which is great versus network overhead cost of $300 per minute.

Problem is, we’ve only ever purchased 17,000 of them.

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