Using Predictive Analytics, Without Ever Making A Prediction

Last week I had the privilege of participating on the Advisory Board for the Retail Marketing Analytics Program (ReMAP) at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD). Perhaps the best part of these sessions is the opportunity to meet with the students, many of which will be tomorrow’s marketing scientists.

During a few conversations on this visit, I was asked how to secure an entry-level position that would involve lots of cool predictive analytics. I want to focus on one of the answers I shared — don’t tell anyone you’re doing predictive analytics. What do I mean? Imagine you’re a freshly minted analyst in the following situation:

  • Your manager asks you to quickly evaluate who responded to a promotion.
  • You have many factors to investigate (because you have lots of data).
  • You have very limited time to find a great answer and build a deliverable.
  • The required deliverable needs to be simple and free of analytic jargon.
Read more

Take The “Big” Out Of Big Data With Customer Recognition

James McCormick

I remember my first day at high school. Yikes it was scary. The older kids were BIG! The teachers were BIG (the phys ed teacher was even a little mean), the school was BIG . . . Everything felt so BIG! But as the year ticked by, l became familiar and comfortable with my classmates, teachers, and the school -- the place shrunk to a more comforting size.

Today marketers feel about data as I did about my first day at big school -- it’s BIG. There is lots of it, and it’s coming at them from many directions and in many forms. But data does not feel so big and daunting to the marketer who recognizes their customers buried in the fog of big data. The fact is, customer recognition is the key for marketers to make sense of big data; and it is at the heart of all effective marketing activities. I write about this in my most recent report: “Customer Recognition: The CI Keystone.”

So what is customer recognition?

  • Recognition associates interactions with individuals or segments across time and interactions. The strength of recognition is gauged on its ability to associate interactions to anything from individuals to a broad segment; and to persist those associations across different touchpoints over time.
  • Keys are needed for recognition at touchpoints. There are many types of keys, ranging from IP addresses, to cookie-based TPIKs, to phone numbers and customer account numbers. At Forrester we call them touchpoint interaction keys (TPIKs)
Read more

What Will Jason Cover At Forrester?

You don’t need to be a fine woodworker to sit in a chair. An inability to precisely construct an angled mortise and tenon joint does not preclude you from resting your feet. Similarly the time is rapidly approaching where you won’t need to be a marketing scientist to deploy analytics. Ignorance of neural networks will no longer impede your ability to use them to improve a campaign. The democratization of predictive modeling or other trends involving the intersection of customer analytics and marketing technology is much of what I will cover for Forrester Research.

In my new role as a senior analyst I look forward to helping Customer Insight professionals increase marketing and business returns through becoming more intelligent enterprises. This might involve guiding clients on technology decisions, organizational strategy, or benchmarking to their peers. What topics would you like to see me cover?

Read more

Set Your Digital Marketing Programs On Fire With Tag Management

James McCormick

This year tag management is a sizzling hot topic. Why? Firms are really struggling to with their JavaScript tags and scripts on their websites and other digital channels.  As they get serious about their digital marketing programs the number and types of digital tags being managed is exploding. Costs are increasing, errors are creeping in, customer experience is negatively impacted, and costly digital marketing programs have been rendered useless in some cases.

Tag management tools are much more than the management of tags. Strategic use can:

  1. give control of digital marketing campaigns to marketers – relieving significant IT burden,
  2. significantly reduce digital marketing implementation and operational costs,
  3. garner support for digital marketing programs – even in highly regulated firms – by offering detailed multi-stakeholder visibility and control of scripts and digital data,
  4. reduce the “stickiness” and dependence on digital technology vendors, and
  5. enable digital data syndication, which in turn drives dynamic segmentation and bottom-up attribution programs.

Forrester is currently assessing the tag management capabilities of top global brands, advising on their strategies and guiding them with their digital marketing road maps.  Also; tag management research is ongoing with a few papers due for release later this year. 

Analytics Democratization Continues As KXEN Finds A New Home

Srividya Sridharan

SAP today announced plans to acquire KXEN, a provider of predictive analytics technology. The terms of the deal are not known. This is an interesting development for both companies and highlights the focus on the democratization of predictive analytics, especially for marketers. The proposed deal puts the spotlight on two shifts in the analytics landscape:

  • Expert user to casual user. Our research shows that finding top analytics talent is a key inhibitor to greater customer analytics adoption. As a result, users expect analytical tools to cater to nontechnical, nonstatistician business and marketing users.
Read more

Acxiom's Untied Kimono

Fatemeh Khatibloo

Yesterday, Acxiom, one of the world's largest data brokers and a key player in the marketing services ecosystem, launched an important new consumer service (still in Beta) called "About The Data."  It's an initiative to show consumers some of the data that Acxiom has compiled about them, to provide education around how certain types of data are sourced and used, and to let users correct and/or suppress the use of these datapoints for marketing purposes. 

This is a big deal. Why? Because it's pushing Acxiom (and, frankly, the entire third-party data industry) way out of its comfort zone on a few levels.

  1. First, this is not a company that is used to dealing with consumers on a mass scale. Acxiom's DNA is fundamentally B2B; learning how to communicate to, and design tools for, individual consumers is a massive undertaking, and it shows in the UI. For example, when I attempted to register my address with a "#" preceding my apartment number, the format was rejected without any indication that symbols were disallowed in that field. As a tech-savant, it only took me one more attempt to figure that out, but not all consumers are so savvy. Similarly, clicking the "Home" button on the navigation bar logs users out without any notice or warning. 
     
Read more

Google Steps It Up With Data Driven Attribution

Tina Moffett

More news from Mountain View on Tuesday, where Internet powerhouse Google released the much-anticipated Data Driven Attribution (DDA) feature for its Premium users. The release of Google’s DDA approach comes as no surprise to the analytics and measurement community. The world of attribution measurement is constantly evolving and new attribution approaches, new players, and new tools regularly enter the market, enabling marketers to select the right attribution tool for their business needs. It was only a matter of time before Google released a persuasive, more advanced measurement offering.

First, the Data Driven Attribution feature is only available for Google Analytics Premium users. It has several notable features worth highlighting:

  • Google DDA’s approach is statistically driven methodology. Google’s DDA approach is a huge improvement over its rules-based Attribution Modeling tool (which is available for FREE for Google Analytics users). The DDA approach uses probability modeling to best estimate the values of each interaction. The approach itself is transparent, understandable, and Google is extremely open about how it calculates the value parameters.
Read more

What Is Your Customer Analytics Persona?

Srividya Sridharan

Buy analytics software, hire marketing scientists, and engage analytics consultants. Now wait for the magic of customer analytics to happen. Right?

Wrong. Building a successful customer analytics capability involves careful orchestration of several capabilities and requires customer insights (CI) professionals to answer some key questions about their current state of customer analytics:

  • What is the level of importance given to customer analytics in your organization?  
  • Have you clearly defined where you will use the output of customer analytics?
  • How is your analytics team structured and supported?
  • How do you manage and process your customer data?
  • Do you have clear line of sight between analytics efforts and business outcomes?
  • What is the process of sharing insights from analytics projects?
  • What type of technology do you need to produce, consume and activate analytics?
Read more

Adobe Acquires Neolane: Marketing Tech Gains An Accent

Rob Brosnan

Adobe's announcement that the company will acquire Neolane comes nearly on the heels of Salesforce's acquisition of ExactTarget. Even at $600 million, the deal size won't draw attention like Benioff's blockbuster, but it shouldn't be downplayed. Adobe's reach across the marketing technology landscape — and campaign management's central position within it — means it will have an outsized effect on marketers. On it's face, the acquisition:

  • Addresses a market that Adobe previously ignored. Neolane closes Adobe's strategic and longstanding gap in campaign management. Whether you call it a marketing platform, suite, or cloud, Adobe now offers a broad spectrum of products to marketing departments, and now extends into offline. It is now also a much more serious competitor to the large, enterprise marketing providers: IBM, Oracle, SAS, and Teradata.
  • Offers a moderate extension of Adobe's marketing cloud. Neolane offers its products through a mix on-premises, hosted, and multi-tenant cloud delivery, though most clients opt for on-premises. While Neolane doesn't immediately transform the marketing cloud, Adobe's success with CQ5 shows that it's comfortable with hybrid delivery. Over time, however, Neolane's unified architecture and Adobe's SaaS-bonafides will allow it to shift more and more clients into campaign management as a subscription.
Read more

Key Findings From Forrester's EMEA Marketing Leadership Forum

Tina Moffett

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders in London and met some members of the Forrester Leadership Board (FLB) for Customer Insights (CI) professionals. I was eager to share my research on attribution measurement and (selfishly) get their point of view on measurement successes and challenges in Europe. Here are a few key takeaways from our CI colleagues across the pond:

  • Attribution measurement is a growing topic among European firms. When I met with the FLB members, I was delighted to learn that attribution is being widely adapted in most organizations, with the same challenges that we face in America. In fact, it seems that the firms I spoke with adapted attribution for quite a while, and they’re really looking to advance their attribution approach in the near future. Overall, they are making significant investments in the right data, resources, and tools to have a more sophisticated measurement approach.
Read more