Welcome back to aimClear’s continuing coverage from SES Chicago! Day 2 may have been bleak outside with a bit of rain and wind, but the fire continues to burn brightly in the minds of marketers here at the conference.
We attended Big Data Uncovered: How to Gather, Analyze, & React to New Customer Behavior, moderated by Jamie Smith, founder of Engine Ready, and with speakers Thad Kahlow, CEO of BusinessOnline and Kevin Lee, CEO of Didit telling us what’s what. Let’s dive in!
First up, Thad Kahlow, described himself as “fired up!” and it was evident quickly that he has a passion for big data and its many uses. He began with his opinion about why big data has become so relevant in recent years. It’s more than just the progression of technology; it’s the currents of change everywhere in our daily lives. One example is General Motors, a company that was in business for more than a century, was at the height of its profits nearly a decade ago. In less than that very decade, GM went from a profitable company to bankrupt, and we all saw it happen before our very eyes. That’s really fast.
Thad believes there has been a large shift in the way that enterprises are assessing value. Value has shifted away from product and brand and resides in the customer relationship. Because, let’s face it, without customers, we don’t have much. As digital marketers, we have one of the largest conduits for building and maintaining customer relationships. Indeed, it is the age of the customer!
There are four fundamental concepts Thad outlined affecting the shift toward big data:
- Customers have control and the fundamentals of interaction have changed greatly.
- The barriers to entry are minimal; competition can enter quickly and win with effective use of data.
- Customer relationships have become the focal point and the largest asset of many businesses.
- Data is introduction, enabler, and insight.
According to an IBM study, 78% of CEOs have the overall goal of building stronger, better customer relationships. This, in turn, is getting pushed down the organization to everyone. In addition to that, there’s pressure on managers and agencies to prove that every dollar they spend is producing value. There’s only one way to prove that and it’s, you guessed it, big data.
The Primary Marketing Challenge
Marketers worldwide are finding themselves in a never-ending cycle of expectations. The key question is, how do we as marketers efficiently and effectively generate leads that turn into sales? Beyond that, how do we figure out where it’s all coming from?
This is where the three main points of Thad’s presentation come in.
Close the loop between channels and data sources; find solutions that help you to automate data collection and aggregation. Often, multiple data sources can be pulled into a single dashboard to make analysis simpler, Google Analytics is a great example.
Attribute your success correctly. There are three methodologies to consider:
Single Touch. This model assigns 100% credit to either the first or last exposure before a sale; we know these things as first click or last click, generally. Obviously, this does not paint a complete picture – the potential to overlook the rest of the customer journey is great. It could also undervalue other influencers or interactions.
Rules-Based. This method assigns credit to each interaction based on business rules. This can be as simple as applying weights to certain actions within your website. Someone scheduling an appointment is certainly more valuable than them calling for a quote. It’s important to recognize that these values may be subjective and lack the rigors of analysis to determine the weights.
Statistically Driven. If you’re a fan of advanced regression formulas or probability models, then this approach is something you’ll love. This will be different based on your vertical and business goals, but it will be the most accurate of the three methods for attribution. The major pitfalls involved in this type of analysis are the time needed, cost, and knowledge necessary to work with algorithmic approaches.
Attribution alone, however, is not enough by itself. These prospects need to be validated in some way. Thad has a relatively complicated and in-depth method for doing this. The basics steps are outlined below, the focus is on normalizing the data and assigning scores in order to evaluate the relative value of leads:
- Analyze prospect engagement activity over a period of time, preferably a month or longer.
- Create a normalized scoring method based on your analysis. This means assigning a scoring system to different metrics that will rate the quality of your lead. The idea is to look for patterns in users that you know converted in order to profile a typical converter.
- Analyze your data for insights. Patterns will emerge among converting customers, find them and harness the power! These people were actively in your sales funnel, this should help inform what is working for you and what isn’t.
For B2B in particular, measuring these interactions at the individual level can paint only a partial picture. Many business decisions are made by more than one person. For every known lead, there can be 10 or more unknown visitors that are connected to your lead—that’s right people, from the same company. It’s crucial to view these opportunities at the aggregate level.
From here, the final step is to actually drive business outcomes with all of your data.
Engage and get personal. Create more opportunities for engagement at key points in the funnel. This could include content personalization, remarketing, or the option to chat with a sales representative right then and there. Base this on your past, validated success! Drive it with data!
Here’s a diagram from Thad’s presentation that can sum up what this process should look like very simply.
Whew, that’s a lot to take in! We’re not done yet, so buckle up.
Next up, was Kevin Lee who also paneled on the morning’s keynote address. He outlined the many faces of big data:
- Paid media
- Earned and shared media
- Site data
- CRM and SFA management systems
These are the major places that you can gather data from and it’s important to use as many as you can for a complete picture.
Kevin believes that the needle can be shifted in a positive direction through the use of data. The positive shifts can happen in the following areas:
- Increased conversions
- Larger purchases in a shorter amount of time
- More profitable immediate purchases
- Higher lifetime customer value
- Increased probability of influencing peers
- Increased likelihood to convert offline
- Helps minimize the cost of increasing coverage
Next, he touched on attribution models and two key pitfalls:
- New media choices or platforms
- New touch points in the sales funnel
Finding a system that works with all of the potential platforms and touch points across your internet marketing efforts is one of the key components of success. That makes sense to us intuitively but sometimes finding the right product is difficult (this ties back into Thad’s points about the pace of change being so rapid).
No matter your industry, Kevin believes there is likely data out there about what content and messaging will work in your vertical. In the case there isn’t, here are some quick tips:
- Boring doesn’t go viral.
- Boring doesn’t get links.
- Boring landing pages don’t convert.
In short, find out what’s boring your customers and fix it!
Kevin touched next on the idea of indirect link building by posting content that your customers won’t find boring, or as he put it, fun links! Often, posting or sharing things that are indirectly related to your business or topics that a typical customer cares about (for example, gun buyers from Montana are likely to enjoy hunting as well) can foster both engagement and free links. Talk about SEO gold!
This extends into all channels, including social. Perhaps even especially social, where users are there to relax and kick back, not delve into the nitty gritty of their daily jobs. This presents a unique opportunity to create content that is interesting and fun.
Kevin, like Thad, believes that personalizing the user experience with a brand is of the utmost important. So important, in fact, that his current mantra is: Audience, Audience, Audience!
The key question from there is, “How do I reach these audiences?” This is especially true in competitive areas such as search ads in Google. Almost the entire ‘hot zone,’ where the eye naturally gravitates to on-screen, is covered in ads and it can be expensive to be in that zone. How can you afford to oust your competition from those spots? Kevin believes that keywords don’t tell you as much about your audience as other factors, mentioning geography as one of the driving forces behind demographic and psychographic tendencies. These differences can be noted in how your campaigns perform segmented by geography as measured by metrics such as conversion rate and CTR.
Let’s take it a step further. Say, for example, that you advertise nationally, but you want to examine the San Diego area in particular because that is where your headquarters is located. Perhaps you find that your national average conversion rate is 1.5% but the conversion rate in the San Diego area is approaching 2.1%. That tells you that there’s something about San Diego that differentiates them from the national average. In order to find out what that something is, it’s a good idea to look at geographical areas with similar demographic breakdowns and compare the conversion data in order to piece together what it is about the people in these cities that gets them clicking your ads.
What this boils down to is the basic benefits of geo-targeting:
- Weed out areas where quality of traffic is low.
- Increase exposure in areas where people are clicking and converting.
- Granular testing
- Smart and strategic spending of media dollars
- Customizable creative based on geography
And there you have it! Day 2 went by quickly, Day 3 is almost over, and we’re feeling like our brains are hard drives full of data. No sweat though, we’ll recharge and be back at it again for another great day at SES Chicago, so stay tuned, folks!