Browsing posts in: Analytics

Marketing to normals

My wife and I held our annual holiday party last weekend for a few dozen close friends. As usual, it was awesome: Southern cocktails, homemade treats, a nice fire going, two dogs and a decked-out tree. Good times. Over some drinks, I took the opportunity to conduct a totally unscientific poll about something I was curious about – the mobile commerce behavior of our friends. Specifically, I wanted to know: do you actually buy stuff on your phone?

phoneThe reason I asked was because of a weird pattern I’d seen while trawling through the annual ecommerce reporting data from the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. According to IBM, on Cyber Monday, roughly 1 in 10 online sales was on a smartphone, with an average order value of approximately $100. ($100!) Nor was this an outlier – similar figures were cited by Adobe Digital Index and comScore.

The idea that some people are not only actually shopping for stuff on their iPhones (the percentage of sales on Android devices is far lower), but also spending quite a bit of money on them, honestly mystifies me. I don’t understand the use case at all. Yet – the data is there, and I’m not one to argue with hard evidence. This paradox has gotten me thinking quite a bit about the ongoing fragmentation of paths to purchase, and what it means for 2014’s emerging marketing buzzword: customer journeys.

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How Apple Pay will accelerate adoption of marketing technology

A few months ago, I went shopping for clothes in a real, brick-and-mortar store at the mall. I don’t particularly enjoy shopping, and my experience inspired a blog post about the future of brick-and-mortar retail that has now become one of my most-viewed/linked posts ever. In it, I basically pointed out that the physical store shopping experience hasn’t really changed in decades, and that that’s a huge problem for retailers catering to consumers in the midst of a massive shift in buying behavior.

jumping

The retail sector broadly is grappling with any number of new ways to connect to customers digitally: the now-table stakes ecommerce offering, to social presence, to in-store analytics and beacons and much, much more. Some retailers have embraced this new paradigm of selling enthusiastically, while others have ignored or even fought it. While this is often framed as a cultural issue (cue “legacy retailers resist change!” lede), I’ve long suspected that it often has a lot more to do with incentives and business strategy.

Since I wrote that post, Apple Pay was released to much acclaim (my take here). The reception to Apple Pay in the retail world has created some key signals that I believe are relevant to everyone in ecommerce and marketing tech today. Namely: how important are building relationships with customer experiences, really? And what are each company’s priorities for its own (inevitable) digital transformation? Apple Pay has helped answer these questions and gives us some clues about how different retailers see themselves relating to their customers.

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Analysts confirm: no one has any idea what’s going on in MarTech

dog and ponyTwo pieces of analyst research have hit the wires recently that confirm what many of us already knew: no one really knows which way is up or down in marketing tech.

The Forrester Enterprise Marketing Software Suites Wave (thank you for not saying “marketing cloud”) and Gartner’s Integrated Marketing Management Magic Quadrant both hit within a week of each other last month, and have now created a lot more confusion than they resolved. While these reports aren’t technically direct comparators (or, for their firms, competitors), you sure wouldn’t know that by reading their respective descriptions of the market, which sound substantially identical.

Between the hair-splitting that included/excluded vendors from participation and the obvious heavy influence of vendor marketing in report rankings, it remains to be seen how this research will be received. Nevertheless, these conflicting reports suggest two things to me: first, the analyst community continues to struggle to comprehensively understand the burgeoning marketing tech space; and second, that a crowded market space has promoted vendor marketing near the top as a source of information.

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Salesforce/ExactTarget is about to shake up the digital marketing and analytics space

Some pretty interesting news came out of the Salesforce/ExactTarget Connections event in Indianapolis the other week.

sfdc

The first, nearest and dearest to my own heart, was the announcement of new web and mobile analytics features in the “ExactTarget Marketing Cloud,” as well as new enhancements to the Journey Builder application, which uses Salesforce CRM data to personalize mobile application experiences. Interestingly, SFDC/ET has chosen not to brand their digital analytics module. It’s simply an “embedded” (read: standard) feature in the ET Marketing Cloud. Analytics, once again, as table stakes to the marketing platform.

The second, and potentially more groundbreaking, item was less of a formal announcement than it was a clever form of “leak” from Marc Benioff via Twitter:

There on Wednesday, October 15th, the first major product keynote of Dreamforce 2014 is titled “Analytics Cloud Keynote.” Yep – Salesforce is about to (formally) get into the analytics business.

These developments are directly related, and aimed squarely at incumbents like Adobe, IBM and Google (in different ways).

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Some real talk on the question: “Should I get an MBA?”

Recently, I’ve been asked for career advice from a couple of undergraduates and recent grads who are interested in technology and analytics. I’m always happy to talk with these folks – it wasn’t so long since I was in their shoes, and in the years since, I’ve enjoyed the benefit of some very generous professionals who were happy to share their experience and career advice with me. I believe it’s very important to pass the favor forward.

MBA

One big question that I hear a lot is: should I get an MBA? (Sometimes, another graduate school program is mentioned, but the MBA is far and away the most frequent.) If so, when? And from what school? Do I have any tips or advice for getting into School X?

There are any number of viewpoints on this question: myriad online MBA applicant forums, recruiting networks, and a whole cottage industry of application and GMAT consultants (not to mention the test prep textbooks). I am, of course, not a part of any of those, and as such hold a relatively contrarian view of the grad school question.

Nevertheless, my advice comes down to a supremely unsatisfying: it depends. A person’s suitability for an MBA program depends on a lot of factors which I’ll try to outline in this post. Here goes.

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