Delivering the Right Message to the Right Person: The Importance of Data Driven Marketing

The concept of data driven marketing is simple – know your customer – and not just the basic demographics either. Knowing and understanding the types of messages that your customers want to receive will greatly enhance your customers’ experience. And research proves that customers will spend more based on a great user experience. Let’s look at two recent examples from my inbox.

Exhibit A – Don’t Advertise Dog Food in Cat Fancy

A few years ago at a carnival, my son won a fish. This was a big deal because it was the closest thing to a pet my son would ever know (as long as he was living under MY roof). So off we went to one of the larger chain pet stores in our area for fish supplies. After spending the better part of a car payment, we were all set. I even joined a rewards program to help us save on things like fish food and tank filters in the future…or so I thought. About a week later I received an email boasting huge savings on dog food. The following week it was cat food, then bird seed, then ferret foot; you get the gist. I attempted to update my email preferences but my only option was to receive weekly, bi-weekly or monthly emails. Because I didn’t want to miss out on a potential gold mine of savings on fish filters, I agreed to keep the emails coming. In the years since, the fish has died, new fish were purchased and new fish have died. Apathetically, I haven’t adjusted my email preferences, mostly because it is easier to delete the email simply based on the sender.

If I had the chance to opt-into emails about fish supplies, I’d be a happy shopper, but as it stands, I am a data marketer’s worst nightmare…or am I?

Exhibit B – Did the Foundmodclothers of ModCloth Just Send ME an Email?

I’m a BIG fan of ModCloth. I love their clothes, I love their culture, and I even love their behavioral retargeting (you know, that ad for a cute dress that follows you around to other sites you tend to visit). ModCloth does such a great job following me around that sometimes I don’t open their emails when they arrive. So when I received a message directly from the co-founders of ModCloth expressing concern for my lack of response to their emails, I was surprised (although as a marketer, I was happy). Has it really been three months since I opened an email, certainly not, but maybe? Initially I selected the “Don’t change a thing” option regarding my preferences, but the curious marketer, who recently sat in on a presentation about data driven marketing, wanted to see the options.

Fortunately for me, my preferences were set just as I wanted them. But I appreciated the options. Frankly, I appreciated the email asking me if I still wanted to receive emails.

modcloth preferences

The Importance of Data Driven Marketing

Knowing and understanding the messages your customers want to receive is paramount. Engaged customers are repeat customers.

  • Don’t trap your customers into receiving emails they don’t want.
  • Make updating preferences easy for your customers.
  • Skip the step that requires users to sign into an account with a username and password that was created three years ago.

Learn more about the five steps of data driven marketing or leave us a comment with your questions!

Advanced Google Analytics: Understanding Conversions with Funnels

Conversions are arguably the most significant aspect of Google Analytics – if you aren’t measuring conversions, why do you have a website? But that is a sermon for another day. Let’s assume that you are measuring conversions, what is the next step to understanding the flow of traffic on your site? Funnels.

goal funnelsFunnels or Goal Steps are a way to identify not just the goal or conversion, but the steps that lead to a conversion. For example: let’s say your have a 3 part form that you use to collect leads. The goal is to get people to complete the form, but equally important: why aren’t people completing the form? By adding goal steps for each section of the form it becomes easy to see how many people are lost at each step in the process. This can be very helpful in deciding which steps in your process are worth keeping and which ones should be eliminated – or at least improved.

Another use for funnels can take advantage of the “Required First Step” setting. If there are two goals that share a final step, for example you use a single form for quote requests, but it is accessed from two separate page, each targeting a different industry. By setting up separate goals, each with a required first step of an industry page, Google Analytics would divide the form completions based on which industry page they came from, helping to align your reporting with your goals.

And now for the clever combo move: in my last post I talked about virtual page views, specifically as a way to track forms that open in a lightbox. By adding the virtual page view as a funnel step, it is easy to see what percentage of visitors completed a form after opening it.

Want to learn more about Google Analytics? Join us in person at TKG’s Google Analytics Advanced Breakfast Bootcamp on September 18 . Click here to register for this FREE session!

The Five Steps of Data Driven Marketing

data driven marketingYep – I’m eeking out as much as I can about my recent visit to the Interaction Marketing Summit hosted by The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron. We heard from experts in the field of content marketing, creative design, and data. The event was kicked off by marketing super-genius Lisa Arthur, CMO at Teradata one of the largest data warehousing & marketing firms in the country. Arthur not only kicked off the event with a keynote address that inspired attendees to “…lift up marketing to new heights,” she was also the recipient of the event’s Direct Marketer of the Year award. So, long story short, she knows her stuff.

Long ago I had a boss who used to tell us, “Don’t try to sell vinyl siding to a brick house.” The optimist in me says that many brick houses have a small amount of siding, but I knew what he was getting at. His words were spoken to a team dedicated to outbound call campaigns. Fortunately, 12 years later, the message still rings true. Whether you are making phone calls or designing marketing campaigns that cross over multiple mediums, knowing your audience is the key.

During Arthur’s presentation, she provided some insight from her recent book Big Data Marketing, and shared the importance of collecting and using customer data to provide a great customer experience.

The Five Steps of Data Driven Marketing

  1. Get Smart: Get Strategic: Plan your campaigns appropriately. Know your audience and make sure you aren’t wasting your marketing dollars targeting the wrong audience.
  2. Tear Down the Silos: The relationship between Marketing and IT is crucial. Your IT department can help you track and report on important customer data. Your marketing team should have a dedicated IT liaison who can help to communicate the information that is needed to
  3. Untangle the Data Hairball: This sounds gross but it really needs to be done. Only 18% of marketers believe that they have complete and useful data. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers to update their preferences or go a step further by having them request the specific types of messages they want to receive from you. Don’t try to sell vinyl siding to a brick house.
  4. Make Metrics Your Mantra: Find a good method for collecting and categorizing your customer data. Use your CRM system to its fullest potential – use your newly-broken-down silo approach and ask your IT contacts for customizations of your CRM so you are able to report on and use your customer data. Track your open and click through rates. Take advantage of Google Analytics by adding UTM tracking codes to your campaigns.
  5. Process is the New Black: Make a list, check it twice and all that jazz. Create a process for each of your campaigns and stick to them. If you want to be able to respond to your customers in real-time, process is the way to succeed.

Do you have any other advice for data driven marketing? Share it in the comments!

Image Credit

The Agency Model is Dead (Why You Need to Know and What’s Going to Fix It) #CMWorld2014

Kirk-Cheyfitz-photo_rev-150x150TKG is, of course, known for web development and online marketing strategies. But, what about more traditional offline marketing strategies? Well, it turns out we are actually pretty good at many of those too! From branding to print advertising to… well, lots of things, we help our clients in a lot of different ways. In this session, Kirk Cheyfitz, the CEO and Chief Storyteller at Story Worldwide makes kind of a radical statement: The Agency Model is Dead! But, not to worry, Kirk promises that this session offers a blueprint and practical discussion about how to build the agency of the future (you know, one that does all kinds of things online and offline) and create unparalleled results for clients. We’re totally up for that! Let’s see what we can learn:

Kirk poses the question of what killed the agency model… and he said it’s simple: reality. The old ways of doing advertising aren’t working very well, but they persist against all odds. Budgets going primarily to tv, and the turn is coming very, very slowly.  In fact, Kirk argues that the future happened some 8 years ago when Facebook was opened up to everyone over 13, and when Twitter became a network. And we are still reacting. Slowly.

So, what do we know now? We know you must go digital. Digital is a lot of media and collectively they are #1.

So, what can digital do for marketers? ANYTHING. Drive mass or niche awareness, consideration, validation, purchase, re-purchase. There is nothing that digital can’t do. (This is OLD NEWS.) And, it’s projected that digital spending will overtake TV spending in 2017.

One of the problems with all of this digital though is that it’s spawned an agency fragmentation, where agency’s each do a small part of something. He gives the example of one company reporting that 150 different agencies are touching their business. Wow, that’s a crazy number! Could you imagine having to manage 150 different agencies?

And they’re all disconnected, not talking to each other.

So, Kirk’s proposition is that clients need an agency that understands it all – advertising, content, branding, etc and make it all work together. And there’s no one better suited to do that than content people. (We couldn’t agree more – content and other online marketing initiatives drive so many of the strategies for our clients – and that is only going to grow as brands develop their brands online before offline!)

So, Kirk says you need an Agency of Integration, that brings it all together.

But, there’s a battle to determine who will earn that trust and drive both strategies. And it’s a serious battle because there’s a lot of money at stake (he says $600 billion)

Why choose the content people? Because a great tv idea (advertising idea) is all about a burst of disruption, whereas a great content strategy is about creating content that sustains conversations, drive engagement and keeps people talking for a long time.

Kirk says that the only way to reach audiences is to create media that is entertaining, informative and engaging.

And Kirk says that brand storytelling should win this battle because it can differentiate the story, not offer interruptions just invitations and it’s always on.

But, if we’re going to take advertising away from traditional agencies, then digital agencies have to also embrace and learn basic skills of brand management including branding, strategic planning, media planning and measurement.

First comes brand management. This is a traditional skill that most agencies haven’t touched. To take on brand management, you must be insight-driven with a strong planning and research capability. To insure audiences are assembled quickly, you must have a sophisticated media planning program. And, of course, to know what’s working, you have to measure things with advanced analytics, tied to business results. That’s the only way you’ll ever get a budget.

So what’s the takeaway on all this? To survive the future, content agencies are going to have to expand their skill base and deliver more for clients in an integrated strategy and there’s no one better to do this than content marketers. We agree, Kirk, we agree!

Checkout Content: The power of content marketing on retail sites #CMWorld2014

DonataMaggipinto_rev-150x150I must admit – getting the chance to learn the theory behind how Walmart is using content on their site is pretty cool, and since I have a few clients who are B2C, I’m definitely up for learning some tips and tricks from a company that is undeniably the largest retailer in the world. This session is lead by Donata Maggipinto, the Creative Director of Content for Donata promises we’ll learn:

  • How to leverage content at retail to build customer trust and guide the customer on the path to and through purchase.

  • A mix of storytelling, inspiration and education can influence customer behavior and drive both in-store and online sales.

  • How and why content from supplier brands works on a retailer’s site.

Let’s listen in:

Our speaker today comes from a lot of niche brands and is now working for a brand that, as she says, serves women who have a grocery budget that equals the same thing as 4 glasses of wine on the west coast. So, it’s important to really serve this audience well. And, obviously, Walmart is doing that.

Walmart employs a content funnel that is designed to help guide customers down the path to and through purchase. Reaching this audience means providing content that’s the right style, length and tone for the audience.

Walmart has content centers designed around different topics (i.e tech, mom/baby), category pages and shelf pages. Category pages might be “baking” and shelf pages that are more product related with supplementary content that speaks to it (how to find the right juicer). And then of course there are the products and descriptions.

Donata says: Our goal is to attract, influence and retain customers. We do this with beautiful content that is changed regularly through a combination of evergreen content and seasonal content. For example, a corn page – how to cook it and other things related to the topic, then branded content and products that she can learn about and purchase to go along with the topic. We try to create never-ending inspiration, subtle native advertising, product recommendations and a deep relationship.

Customers love content, but it needs to be genuine, in the right voice and is recognizable. And for retailers it must be actionable, bringing the brand’s purpose to life.

Every brand has to find it’s own voice. Walmart is helpful and approachable. The goal is to help customers learn to manage their resources to save money but not sacrificing living well. We can all relate to this!

Walmart is a generalist, selling millions of products, so its solutions need to go across the aisle into real life.

i.e. She comes to the food and entertaining center, plans recipes, downloads a grocery list to her phone and in the store, she can access that list. She feels in control. And, when she’s in the store, she can adjust that list and add to it as needed (like when her kid calls in the store).

How does Walmart measure success? There isn’t just one way. Donata says, We regularly look at our metrics and adjust. Our overall goal is customer lifetime engagement. It’s not just about conversion, it’s about building this over time. Finding the site, engaging, going deeper with it, sharing it and then have everyone come back again and again. (It’s a lot of pressure!)

To do this we must create content that is appealing, distinctive and distinguishes us from our competitor. (Kinda what we all need to do – whether we are B2B or B2C!)

It’s how we position it to distinguish ourselves, knowing what keywords the customer is searching, optimizing that content and then creating it. And then doing it over and over and over.

Walmart’s flagship content center is food and entertaining, and drives purchase primarily in stores. It’s the hub for an ecosystem that encompasses every other platform they are in. It includes deep, rich content, recipes, blogger contributions, Walmart Mom contributions and a tool that is a dynamic grocery list that they can use to view recipes and then add to the grocery list. It also offers coupons and the ability to print, email it, etc. And, this is where they have other companies sponsoring content with an already engaged audience.

Walmart also does emotional storytelling to create a connection with real people. They do stories around Walmart produce, that it’s fresh and local. This is huge for customers who want to shop local, but need to shop in big box stores like Walmart.

A lot of Walmart’s advertising focuses around inspiring a visitor to want to do something that they might need to buy more things (i.e. I want to tailgate, now I need this, and this and this… and guess what, Walmart has all of that)

Another thing Walmart does is develop content that can work across multiple channels all at once. i.e a video shoot and then do photography for other properties etc.

We’re talking about the Meat Campaign – that was wildly successful, tho Donata can’t give us details or she will go to “Walmart jail” :)

Walmart’s newest content is the dynamic weekly ad. Customers come online to see the weekly ad, to plan their grocery lists, etc. So, they thought, why not enrich it with content that enriches the shopping experience… and upsell. For example, a jam recipe in the ad that leads to additional purchases (i.e. the ingredients, the canning supplies) And, this can become a part of storytelling. She will make the jam, she will share the recipe, new people will come to the site and hopefully also make purchases and engage with our content and also come back.

Takeaways? Create ongoing conversation, offer solutions and make your content liquid – so that it goes beyond your site, to people accessing content wherever they are.

And that’s it! Thanks for sharing with us today!


Content Marketing World: How to Market Your Content “Off-Site” and Why it’s Critical to Get it Right

Darla and I are super excited to be up in Cleveland today and tomorrow for Content Marketing World! Make sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with everything happening! We’re hoping to bring you some “live”ish blog posts so that even if you can’t make it, you can still taste a bit of the action! Without further adieu… Here’s my first session!

How to Market Your Content “Off-Site” and Why it’s Critical to Get it Right

Chad-Zimmerman-photo_rev-150x150We’re here today with Chad Zimmerman, the co-founder and President of STACK Media Inc. According to the description of this session, great content is only half the battle. Off-site marketing and on-site funneling are the next critical steps that turn great content into new customers and greater revenue. Let’s see what he has to say…

Chad likes flow charts and he’s an honest guy. Just what we like. So here’s how it works. You publish content on your site, people visit and don’t do what you want them to do – they go surf the web somewhere else.

So, how do we capture that traffic? Several ways. One of the ways is to use services that create content ads that share your content on other sites and drive people back to your site. Even if they don’t know who you are already (which most people don’t), this is a way to get your content in front of people who are interested in the kinds of content you are producing.

Some providers that can help you do this are:


The real key is to find the service that gets you access to the kind of audience that you’re trying to reach. Most are based on CPC so you only have to pay for what you actually get.

How does this help? Well, it drives traffic to very specific pieces of content on your site, where you have the opportunity to have this content shared with others and the opportunity to sell to this person or promote additional content/services you offer.

They key to doing this successfully is to know your goals, know your kpis, decide how you will measure performance and how you will define success. And start with test.

In your test, remember that headlines matter (you can use lots of different ones and see which one works best), thumbnails matter (try different ones) and pay attention to CPC, CTR and timing.

Also: Make sure to do online funneling so that you get more out of users than just their time. Get them to do something else. Promote email signups or downloads. Promote special tools and sections. Gather more information with forms and link to other relevant content.

One thing that has been really successful for them is footer flyins – so when a user scrolls down 1/2 way through an article, ask them to sign up for a newsletter.

Finally, follow this all up with retargeting, so that when a visitor leaves your site, you follow them around (kinda creepy, we know, but effective!) and get them back so that they can get another chance to convert.

That’s all for this session… Thanks for all the ideas!

4 Interoffice email crimes that will make everyone hate you

email crimesLet’s say an office is like, I don’t know, how about an engine (someone’s probably said that before, people say a lot of stupid things). If we go ahead and run with that, email would be the fuel. Or possibly the oil. Definitely something petroleum based. It’s important, that’s where I’m going with this.

With a little care, it can keep everything running smoothly. But get a little careless, and you can be left with a lone tire rolling away from an inferno. The metaphor actually falls apart at this point, but it still leaves us with some exciting imagery. That’s always nice.

Anyway, here are four habits that turn email from an efficient communication tool into a weapon of mass confusion. You should probably not do them.

  1. The Blank Forward: Like dumping a box from IKEA on someone’s floor minus the instructions. Forwarding an 8-page email without comment while assuming the recipient will figure it out for themselves may sound like a good idea but … actually no, no it does not. Hitting them in the face with a balled-up printout of it would be just as productive, and far less annoying.
  2. Reply vs Reply All:  Much like what the word “literally” actually means, proper use of the Reply All button is something the modern human brain can’t seem to grasp. Which is odd, considering how simple the decision between Reply and Reply All should be:
    • Are you replying with information that everyone originally copied wants/needs/should be forced to accept even if it’s against their will? That’s a Reply All, and simply hitting Reply instead is going to result in a mess of forwards and multiple threads. This is how parallel universes are born.
    • Are you fessing up to being the person who clogged the sink with their oatmeal this time? That’s just a Reply. Because I literally couldn’t care less.
  3. CC Sniping: Let’s say I send you a message, and it includes something less than complimentary about Sally (because Sally is the worst). A few messages later, a question comes up where you think Sally might be able to help. You briefly consider just CC’ing Sally into the thread, but then you remember that this would mean she would see my initial comment, and so you either cut that part out first or email her separately instead. Congratulations, you are an intelligent, thoughtful person. Many people are not. People such as Sally.
  4. Hoarding: While I respect the idea of setting aside one block of time each day to respond to email, I cannot defend it in practice. Email is the perfect mix of real time communication and “I’ll deal with that later when I’m ready for my day to be ruined.” Don’t mess that up for everyone else by sending out a day’s worth of answers at 4:55. You monster.

What are your pet peeves when it comes to email? Share with us in the comments!

Advanced Google Analytics: Virtual Pageviews and Event Tracking

The basic functionality of Google Analytics is based on the page view. It serves as the foundation of all of the measurements, being grouped into sessions and users. It reflects the basic functionality of a website: each page is a different set of information, loaded one at a time. But you don’t have a basic website, so why settle for basic analytics?

event tracking

Virtual page views and events are two methods for tracking activity on your site that isn’t a new page loading. While they can seem similar, they serve separate functions. A virtual page view can add page views in Google Analytics for things that are similar to a new page. For example, a lightbox on your site for images or a form won’t count as a page view, but a virtual page view can be added so that you can monitor the usage of the lightbox along with the other pages on your site.

Events are great for tracking other activity on a site. One of my favorite examples is tracking clicks on email addresses, files and offsite links. This can be done manually by adding additional information to the <a> tags in your HTML on specific links, but it can be implemented using JavaScript so that all of the links of a certain type are tracked as events in Google Analytics. Using this approach it is possible to start to understand why a page has such a high exit rate (people are following a specific link to another site or downloading a few files) or why a contact form isn’t getting filled out (people are opting for the email address on the side of the page).

What are some other ways that you have used virtual page views or events to understand what is happening on your site? Let us know in the comments!

Want to learn more about Google Analytics? See my previous post on URL tagging or join us in person at TKG’s Google Analytics Advanced Breakfast Bootcamp on September 18 . Click here to register for this FREE session!

Meet Josh Moyers, our new Front End Developer at TKG

Josh Moyers Bio ImageJosh specializes in HTML5, CSS3, jQuery, SASS and responsive design. He studied web development at Stark State College and gained experience as a web developer and IT administrator while working in Akron for six years.

Josh took a break from web development and was in the Army as an Infantryman. He was stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY with the 101st Airborne division for three years. Nine months of those three years were spent deployed in Afghanistan on the Pakistan border

“We do our best to produce the best sites on the web, and in order to do that we need quality front end developers. I believe we found one with the recent hiring of Josh Moyers. He is homegrown, has travelled the world serving our country, and has quite a few years of online development experience under his belt,” said David Brown, director of Client Services. “And when he wears a suit, which we normally don’t do around here, he looks like a young James Bond!”

Welcome to the team, Josh!

Improve Your Conversion Rate: Keep Your Eye on the Funnel

conversion rateOnce you have established consistent traffic to your ecommerce store, the conversion rate should become a statistic that you invest to improve.  According to the Monetate Quarterly Ecommerce Report Q1 2014, the average conversion rate for US ecommerce stores is 3.05%, meaning that only 3% of all shoppers that visit an average store will end up making a purchase. I’ve worked with businesses whose stores brought in a large amount of revenue with a 1% conversion rate. What would it look like for these businesses to bring that conversion up to the average 3.05%?  It would immediately TRIPLE their revenue!

So what’s the checkout funnel and what does it have to do with my conversion rate?  Fortunately, Kyle has laid it out for us in his post, Using Google Analytics to Understand Your Site’s Performance. This is the funnel that you should keep your eye on. Sure, a good metric of site performance is the increase of sales from month to month and year to year, but that won’t show you how to make more with what you have.  That’s the beauty of the checkout funnel.  By using and applying the funnel, you can actually generate more business with no increase to traffic.

The checkout funnel allows us to analyze the success of the checkout process and see where you lose shoppers. You can view your overall success rate from Shopping Cart to Order Receipt as well as the success rate between each individual step. With this information, you can quickly see where you’re losing people.  For example, if your average success rate from step-to-step is 85%, but the Delivery step to Payment step is 55%, there’s something significantly wrong with the Delivery step.

Once you have problem steps identified, you can begin to dig into the usability of that page to find loopholes.  Have a friend or family member that’s inexperienced with the site walk through the steps with you and explain what they’re thinking or feeling while going through the process  (You could also get advice from an expert ;) ).  You’ll probably learn things about your shopping experience that you’ve never considered.  Maybe the button isn’t located in a spot that’s easy to see.  Perhaps there’s a form value that everyone misses and the site isn’t doing a good job of telling them what’s missing.  Maybe the phone number field is cumbersome.  There are more business related things that could be contributing to the poor success of the step as well.  Maybe your shipping charges are higher than your competitors, or the payment information step doesn’t appear to be secure.

There are endless possibilities for what subtle things could be turning people away from purchasing, but using the checkout funnel correctly can be an invaluable tool to identify problem areas of your store.  Remember, by the time a customer enters the checkout flow, they WANT to buy the items in their carts.  We need to make that as painless as possible so they don’t change their minds.

What’s your conversion rate?

Image Credit