Posts Tagged ‘conversion’


Creativity Without Conversion Equals Zero

Written by Rand Schulman. Posted in Analytics

conversion funnel strategiesA few months ago I had the opportunity to lecture in the content engineering class at the University of the Pacific (UOP), where I’m an executive-in-residence for digital marketing and media and where I have helped design the curriculum. For the last few years, I lecture every semester on the newest technology-drivers

What a difference a few years make and I am pleased to say that change is afoot at the university and across the U.S., as schools are now building programs geared to meet the critical requirements of business in some of the most sought-after areas of marketing: social media, content marketing, and content analytics, where clearly an imbalance exists between skills taught in classrooms and the skills sought in the marketplace. A few years ago many of the students questioned the value of analytics.

This time I presented my case study of a consumer packaged goods (CPG) company using cross-channel analytics, correlating online and retail behavior, utilizing mobile apps, iBeacons, and augmented reality. I’ve written about it here. In class we mapped out just where content was created, who created it, and where measurements are needed. We talked about CPG company goal of increasing lifetime value (LTV), greater customer engagement, and we designed calls to action and discussed and identified conversion events and stages. We talked about metrics for augmented reality, profile information, and purchase history and their relationship and how we look to normalize structured and unstructured information in analytic applications. We discussed what person in the process is responsible for what action. They get it.

Universities and their business partners are indeed looking for ways to leverage their current curriculum toward a higher technological quotient. They see the need to produce graduates with the skills geared for today’s competitive environment. Yet teaching “Internet marketing” and “how to” classes – most often a minor repackaging of traditional marketing – is only a quick fix when instead we need an earth-moving overhaul at a foundational level.

For the last four years, UOP has been creating a program that addresses the needs of graduates, one that leverages the university’s existing curriculum in business, liberal arts, and engineering, but also remains adaptable to train students in new competencies as the market changes dynamically. When we started the program, few students in the liberal arts school studied the scientific method of test and control or used analytic tools. Today, students in the content engineering course build websites and use analytic tools to test and optimize the results. Some sites have thousands of visitors a day. They are learning that creativity without conversion equals zero.

We need to create a stronger culture of measurement in higher education, one that is market-based and rewards innovation. Anthony P. Carnevale, director of The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, has called for a fundamental shift in thinking about the way students are educated. He writes, “The old model, where you go to college and then go out and find a job, is largely outmoded. It needs to be replaced with a new model, in which college years are spent explicitly preparing for an occupation.”

U.S. higher education – long a source of pride and differentiation across the globe – is undergoing a true crisis of value and identity. Pundits wonder whether universities are the next “bubble” of the U.S. economy, and university students are questioning whether their high-priced education and gargantuan debt loads – up more than 50 percent after inflation from a dozen years ago – will position them for a college-worthy career.

Says Jim Sterne, chairman of the Digital Analytics Association, “The need for analysts and content engineers who can determine the value of content is so great that our association’s online courses have been steadily sold out since inception in 2006. When times are good, companies invest in tools and systems.”

The market needs well-trained content marketers who can create compelling content and measure and optimize that content using new analytics, predictive modeling, business intelligence (BI), marketing, and content management tools.

Marketing students should be given rigorous, cross-disciplinary training in writing, analytics, and technology; engineering students should be taught to create content; and English, journalism, and communications students should be taught about optimizing content for business value.

“I’m pioneering content engineering in our English department focusing on teaching the latest tools of analysis, analytics, and optimization alongside traditional writing and marketing techniques,” says Dr. Eric Sonstroem, the UOP English department chair. “I’m determined that my students really understand how content works on the Web, how it can be tested and measured, and how you can act on the data you get back.”

While classroom teaching is critical, UOP is also in the planning stage of a “hands on” content lab for its new campus in downtown San Francisco, opened last month near Twitter, Adobe, and in the city’s start-up SoMa district. It is envisioned that the lab will create, utilize and test software applications, conduct research, and educate students on content creation and analytic applications, and that students will intern within the tech community headquartered in the area.

UOP is certainly not the only institution of higher learning to address the data-driven marketplace needs, but the one I’m most familiar with, and other schools are today launching their own programs. Innovation is part of the U.S. DNA, and has been for centuries. Our institutions of higher education have been moving at a glacial pace but it’s beginning to thaw as the heat of market demand for digital sophisticates is “melting” the slow rate of change in higher education. We need to turn up the heat.


4 Ways Digital Analytics Is Changing Forever

Written by Andrew Edwards. Posted in Digital Analytics

If you plan on getting your digital analytics done the way you’ve done it in the past, you may want to scrap those plans and start fresh.

Because in 2013, an entirely new approach to digital marketing and analytics is taking hold. Some have called it multi-channel analytics; some have called it business intelligence for marketers; some have called it (somewhat one-dimensionally) big data. I have called it convergence analytics.

Whatever you or your advisors want to call it, the facts about these important changes remain the same, and here are the four most important:

1. Everybody is measuring everything. And putting the reports in a dashboard. By everything, I mean everything. Begin with the desktop (this now means ” web”); add “mobile” (which means several things not very well-defined); add what is euphemistically referred to as “unstructured data” or social media; then add census or other data; CRM (like Salesforce); CDNs; predictive models; ad network data; geographic data; add in revenue data; add any data from any tool that has an API or SDK (and that includes about everyone). And you begin to get a sense of what “everything” is.

From the vendor side, the level of activity is nothing short of spectacular. To say that every company that ever measured a digital property now says they can connect to any data and visualize it for you might be an overstatement, but not by much.

From the marketer side, it’s going to suggest a need for re-architecting your entire approach to data. And possibly an entire new round of tool selections and skill enhancements.

2. Digital is getting married to television. We thought we were done with TV, right? Wrong.

All television is now digital (pretty much by government mandate). Which means TV really is just another IP address-driven content container.

Here’s why it’s important: people still love television. It’s engaging and compelling in ways that websites and apps never will be. It’s the movies. Except on a big flat screen (or a small flat screen) in your own home or office. And we haven’t yet figured out how much it will distort or even destroy the rest of the digital content universe. No matter what, we will have to figure out how to market there (again). Because it will be more like YouTube or perhaps Netflix than like “primetime.” And we will have to measure usership in more sophisticated ways than ever before.

3. Privacy may be dead, but nobody likes surveillance. I’m a digital analyst. So I’m not going to climb on a holy soapbox and complain about how corporations are tracking your every move online. They are. But then again, they’re not charging you any money for most of the stuff you use online. That’s the price users pay for “free stuff.” They pay with information about the way they interact with the content.

While Europe has gone buggy about privacy, in the U.S., only a few people really care about it. And even fewer ever do anything about it (like, for instance, reject or delete cookies at intervals).

But now that we’re starting to see so-called “surveillance scandals” at the government level, especially as regards the news media and beyond, the subject of privacy may well come into focus for the American consumer. The government can get records of almost anything it wants (and the recent advances in digital tracking make this a more important factor than ever). Most people try not to think about this. And they shouldn’t, as long as the government respects the individual’s right to due process. But we are one or two scandals away from folks deciding they don’t want to be tracked anymore because they’ve become paranoid of the Feds.

We don’t want that. So we should try to make sure the government understands that there is a huge difference between the shopkeeper knowing what frock you looked at while you were in the store, versus Big Brother knowing where you were the night of September 17.

4. Marketers are losing control of the data. To be fair, the concepts of “marketing” and “data,” while not quite an oxymoronic pairing, have never been a comfortable fit. Marketers aren’t typically wired for data. Measurement has landed on them and they have embraced it; and some of the most agile and forward-thinking have made big wins with data-driven decision-making.

But that was when we were talking about web analytics and a dash of campaign attribution. Now we are talking about an enormous new push by vendors and senior management to squeeze the marketer on measurement of ROI. Vendors have created powerful new technologies that need selling. Management has gotten the sense they can somehow know successful marketing through measurement; and thereby save tons of money. Both vendors and management are more or less correct. And marketers, caught in between, will again be forced to adapt to rapidly advancing technology.

It’s an open question whether they will, as a group, be able to do it. Or whether the entire task of digital measurement, having grown far more complex than it was even a couple of years ago, gets yanked from marketing and put back in the hands of data people who don’t report to marketers.

Marketers will need to get out in front and lead on this – or they will find themselves roasting in a rather hot sweatbox, penned in by data scientists using sophisticated tools that until recently were far too difficult to build and too expensive to buy except for the very largest and most data-intensive organizations.

Digital analytics is changing forever. Some might say it’s about time.


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