Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Fallacy of Purchase Data

By now, most marketers have gotten the message that some data have greater meaning than others.  Knowing, for instance, a customer’s gender would help the Gap sell sweaters; knowing whether they own a chainsaw, however, would probably not.

Of all data, purchase data generally represent the absolute peak of value.  After all, nothing tells a marketer what a customer wants than what she has already bought.  Moreover, many offers flow naturally from specific purchases, such as laptop cases for laptop buyers.

Let me introduce to you the counter-argument:

Seats 7, has 83 cupholders and can change your perspective on marketing data

Green minivans tell another story about purchase data, one that should give a smart marketer pause before blindly trusting them.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Enter (to win) the Dragon

:Few acquisition tactics appeal to marketers as much as the sweepstakes does.  Spend any amount of time on Facebook or in your email inbox and you’ll find a request like this one:

Please don’t enter; this one’s mine

From personal experience, I can tell you that no matter how little effort a marketers put into promoting sweepstakes, thousands and sometimes millions of consumers will enter.  I can also tell you from personal experience that many if not most of those marketers will over-value the entrants.  So allow me to propose an alternative approach for using all those entrants.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How to deliver bad (data) news

Today’s Dilbert comic strip seemed to reflect something I’ve been thinking about lately: what to do when marketing data say something your client or stakeholder doesn’t want to hear.

Although marketers--particularly direct marketers--have used data to tell their stories for years, the prominence of data brought about by the Internet has made data more important than ever to anyone involved with marketing.  As a result, many more marketers now have to contend with unequivocal results, good or bad.  So I’d like to share some of my tips for delivering the news when results fail to meet expectations.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vroom Vroom, Ding, Ding Part III

Pity the new car buyer of the 1960s or 1970s.  He or she had to worry about things many drivers today don’t know anything about, such as vapor lock or adding water to the battery.  Care to guess what ranks as the number one complaint of new car buyers today?  According to J.D. Power, they complain about their vehicle’s electronics more than anything else.

Moreover, the complaints may only increase.  Just two weeks ago, Apple announced that it had struck deals with several carmakers to integrate Siri, their voice-response app, into new vehicles starting within a year.

Siri, please tell them to shut the hell up

These developments, while no secret to auto industry watchers, should fall with a thud on the desks of the automakers’ marketing departments and agencies.  Marketing cars with these new features depends on a close study of autobuyer data and, in turn, setting proper expectations.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How much do you need to know, really?

Companies have a lot of data, as I’ve discussed before.  The New York Times reported on Sunday that my alma mater, Acxiom, keeps 1,500 or more data elements on just about every person in the United States.

However, every time I think about all these data, I wonder if any of these companies--Acxiom, Google or Target, has any advantage over a middle-aged Nissan dealer in Livingston, New Jersey.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Bytes

Your digital photos tell a lot about you.  Obviously, they tell you whether you travel, like to go to parties with friends or just can’t stop taking pictures of your kids (who, me?).  However, they tell a lot more than that, such as what kind of camera you used, the camera’s settings, when you took the photo and, sometimes, location.

While photographers use these data, called EXIF for “exchangeable image file format,” to help them categorize and improve their photos, I’d like to think that camera manufacturers could get a lot out of those data as well.  Specifically, the manufacturers could use EXIF data to improve their products and their marketing.

So, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax et al., here’s what I’d do with those data if I were in your shoes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Limits of Data

In my last post, I discussed an old saw of  data-driven marketing: more data are always better.  Today, I’d like to discuss another central tenet: marketers can reduce all information that matters into data.

Given a reasonably sophisticated marketing database, a marketer can record every interaction between customer and brand--every visit to the website (with permission, of course), every in-store purchase, every call to the call center.  Again, given the proper technology, the marketing database can make decisions based on those actions: send good customers first dibs on new offers, send reluctant customers offers to make them buy and so on.

Indeed, modern marketing databases generate so much data that many marketers start to see their customers as piles of data.  However, data have their limits.

With these beliefs in mind, I am currently tackling a different sort of marketing challenge.  To wit: how many rapes equal one murder?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Less is More (Data)

In theory, more marketing data mean more insights.  Essentially, a sufficiently smart approach using modern (i.e. relatively inexpensive and powerful) hardware can boil down vast quantities of data to find the few bits that really matter.  Simple math, really.

In theory, a pint of Haagen-Dazs serves four.

One serving.  Two if my wife uses a VERY small spoon,

Here in the real world where it rains and sometimes dogs bark for no reason at all, less data work better than more data.