Disrupt Your Strategy – Planning for Audiences not Generations

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I have never been a fan of demographic profiling. Sure, this information, at scale, can reveal certain things about a population – and this can be useful to understand whether there might be a connection between our age and (for example) our propensity to over-eat. Or contract disease. Or buy new cars every four years.

But populations don’t interest me. They feel like a dead weight around my sense of, and interest in, humanity. Instead, I prefer audiences – which is perhaps why I studied theatre rather than statistics.

It’s also why I am continually fascinated by digital technology and transformation – and it is why social media continues to attract the attention of people, corporations and governments. For digital transformation is not just about bringing the non-digital world online – it’s challenging the very nature of what we consider “our selves” to be.

As marketers, we are constantly drawn to the idea of demographics – the cashed up profiling of the Baby Boomers, the anxious, try-harder Gen X-ers and the slacker Gen Ys. But like any generalisation, these labels are easily unpicked. There are plenty of Baby Boomers who are slackers and plenty of cashed up, power wielding Gen X-ers. And Gen Y are just starting to flex their creative, financial and intellectual powers – and there is more goodness to come. Rather than simply relying on this style of profiling, we should be working harder to understand these audiences. We need to map their behaviours, attitudes and interests, not just their age, sex and location.

This is why I quite like the work that marketing automation firm, Marketo, has done on Generation Z. And while, yes, they have started out with the age-focused label, the research carried out by agency, Sparks and Honey, reveals the patterns of behaviour, interests, attitudes and insights that can help build a deeper understanding of this audience. While the data reflects a US-based audience, there are cultural parallels that are useful indicators such as:

  • Do-Gooders – an interest in making a difference in the world
  • Shift FROM Facebook – Facebook lost its allure when the parents arrived. Gen Z are embracing newer platforms like snapchat, secret and whisper
  • Creation trumps sharing – Gen Z embrace the prosumer ethic of digital media creativity.

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But to really understand this “Gen Z” audience, I would go further. I wouldn’t stop at the age of 19. I would ask:

  • Why would my brand be relevant to audiences exhibiting these behaviours
  • Why would these audiences choose to purchase my product/service/thing
  • Which values embodied by my brand augments the life, behaviour, experience or purpose of this audience
  • How do these behavioural profiles help me understand my customers regardless of age / demographics

And when it comes to planning, insight and future proofing your brand, I’d look to opportunities to self-disrupt your strategy. Ditch the path of lazy profiling, put the work in to really understand your audiences, and then invite them into the process of creating a brand that has a purpose. Start by delving into the data behind the Sparks and Honey research (below) – and then work on your own business by starting with the audiences you rely upon.

ADMA Experts – 56 Trends Shaping Australian Marketing

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Each couple of months, Association of Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) convenes their expert groups on a wide range of topics. Drawn from across the marketing landscape, these groups hash out important, practical topics and challenges that impact their daily work. There are groups that focus on multi-channel, and acquisition and lead generation through email, B2B, search and social media to data and analytics – and everything else between.

Having been a participant for the last two years, it can be a fascinating process to go through. It’s a chance to share your own business and marketing challenges and to learn from others.

Earlier this year, each member of every group was asked to put together a brief prediction for 2014. All of these have now been collated and published. And you can download the report for free. The report outlines 56 trends from data and privacy to wearable tech. It may be the most useful 22 page report you’ll read this year. It will, at the very least, challenge your plans and strategies for the months ahead – and hopefully validate your own work. Download it free here.

The Buyer’s Journey Takes the Long Road

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A marketer’s job would be so much easier of customers followed a set path. In fact, if buyers could fit into a convenient model that allowed us to identify, track, monitor, engage and convert them, life would be rosy. But this is never the case.

If we take a moment to consider the buyer’s journey based on our own experiences, we can yield insight but also understanding. Think, for example, of your last major purchase:

  • How much time did you devote to research before your purchase?
  • How many times did you test, validate and change your mind?
  • How long did you wait before you actually engaged with a salesperson?
  • Who did you ask for advice, reviews and input?
  • What were the prompts that helped to trigger your decision and purchase?
  • How much time did you spend online (email and mobile included) in the leadup to the decision?

Now, consider that your customers are going through very similar processes. Oracle Eloqua’s latest infographic provides some insight into this process. Clearly, their focus is on automating the process of marketing, but importantly, they are also showcasing the important role of integrated marketing. After all, we rarely make a decision based on a single interaction.

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ADMA Young Marketer of the Year Finalists Announced

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adma-marketersThe finalists for the ADMA Young Marketer and Young Creative of the Year have been announced, celebrating and showcasing the work of the Australians under the age of 30. It’s hotly contested, with winners flying to New York City in 2014 on an all-expenses paid trip to meet with leading marketers, creatives and agencies including Google Creative lab, OgilvyOne Worldwide and Anomaly.

In the running for Young Marketer of the Year are:

  • Leigh Allen, Marketing and International Marketing Solutions Manager, ESPN Australia/NZ
  • Anna Guerchenzon, Marketing Team Manager, Telstra
  • Jasmine Hildebrand, BTL Manager-Marketing, AAMI Insurance
  • Chris Howatson, Managing Director, CHE Proximity, Melbourne

Young Creatives have entered their work for judging – and you can check it out yourself at the ADMA site.

  • Jardin Anderson, art director, Rapp DBB, for Get ahead of yourself.com.au which calls on young creatives and marketers to ditch an old award in favour of one from ADMA.
  • Michael Gagliardi, creative/art director For KWP! Advertising, for #YoungPeopleGetIt – getting young marketers and creatives to enter YMYC by speaking to them in the language only they understand.
  • James Nguyen, art director at OBM, for Follow the Follower –  for a fresh twist in getting the leading lights in the marketing and advertising industries to follow the young person on Twitter.
  • Tony Simmons, art director at The Brand Agency –  for See Where It Can Take You – for showing junior marketers and creatives where their career can take them with YMYC using their own Facebook timeline as the narrative.

The overall winners will be announced on Friday 1 November at the ADMA Awards at The Star, Pyrmont.

Is there something you see that you love? Leave me a comment below.

Clearing the Marketing Cloud Fog – Adobe Completes Neolane Acquisition

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The sunset factoryWhen I began researching the marketing automation market late last year, it seemed like a crowded market. It seemed clear at the time that the competitive fog produced by the various marketing platforms was obscuring the very real benefits that technology delivers to marketers, and that the end result would be consolidation.

Yesterday, Adobe helped clear some of this fog by completing its acquisition of privately held marketing automation vendor, Neolane. What impact will this have? My news analysis can be found here – and the official release here.

From a platform point of view, Adobe is filling the gaps in marketing technology arsenal, with:

  • Analytics – the data and data crunching at your fingertips
  • Target – personalisation and targeting
  • Social – executing and measuring social marketing programs
  • Experience Manager – cross platform content digital asset management and optimisation
  • Media Optimizer – managing and optimising cross channel campaigns

And with Neolane joining the Marketing Cloud offering, Adobe is aiming to be the marketing technology partner of choice. Expect to see more activity in this crowded market.
Image: Creative Commons License Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Data-Driven Code of Practice Updated

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There has been a great deal of change in marketing practice over the last decade. There are new channels like social and mobile, new technologies like apps and new ways to measure effectiveness.

To take account of the changes, ADMA is kicking off a consultation process to engage marketers with the aim of updating the ADMA Code of Practice by the end of the year. You can participate in a two minute survey on the code here.

Key points to remember:

  • ADMA’s existing Code was developed in the late 1990s to address issues around telemarketing and fair trading. The Code needs updating for the self-regulatory challenges facing marketers using new data-driven channels, techniques and technologies.
  • Data volumes are growing exponentially and this is giving rise to renewed privacy and data security challenges that can be addressed via the Code.
  • With new privacy laws about to come into effect (March 2014), a revised Code will enable ADMA to establish best practice under the new privacy regime and help members ensure they are meeting their legal requirements.
  • The revised Code will become an enabling tool for marketers and advertisers committed to excellence in customer data management in the era of “Big Data”.

Creative Commons License Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Don’t Market Like it’s 2003. Get With the Program

La Gustadera, G0! 1986. Diseño revista Vectores

Over the last six months or so, I have taken a deep dive into the world of Marketing Automation, Digital Disruption and Mobility and Marketing Trends. And with every report, I see evidence of the situation playing over and over again – there is a growing distance between business and customers. It’s not just a gap anymore – it’s a chasm:

In reality, we are not really dealing with a gap. It could be better described as a “mismatch” – after all, a “gap” would indicate some alignment. But the problem for brands is that the distance between the two sets of expectations [customers and businesses] is growing.

The pressure in this relationship rests firmly with the marketing team. Digital and social media has not only transformed the way that most marketers work, it has significantly added to the process of marketing. There’s so much more technology involved, more analytics, reporting and monitoring. There are more agencies to deal with and more relationships to manage. And targets. And budgets. And so on.

So the title of Mitch Joel’s new book struck a chord with me. Ctrl Alt Delete – we certainly need a reboot in the world of marketing. Let’s take a look at just a couple of the mind blowing stats he starts with:

  • 14% of businesses are not prepared to deal with the speed of today’s competitive landscape. Think about it. What happens to them? Do they just disappear Kodak-style? What happens to their customers and their employees?
  • 74% of businesses don’t have a plan to stay competitive in the mobile world. How many nimble competitors are already eyeing the potential markets that will become available?

The cost of entry to existing markets is so much lower than the cost of TRANSFORMATION. This is why new business models and disruptive competitors are able to quickly gain traction in YOUR markets. Here are a few ideas that you can use to help you cope:

  • Start a customer conversation: Who are your customers? I don’t mean “segments” or “personas” … I mean “real names”. Run a quick check over your records and identify 10 of your best customers and 10 of your worst. Reach out to them and ask them what they like and don’t like about you. See what you can fix and what you can do more of.
  • Run a poll on your website: Get feedback on one or two of your products by running a poll on your website. SurveyMonkey is great – or you could just use Twtpoll. You might be surprised about what you learn.
  • Dig into your website analytics: Don’t tell me you haven’t even installed Google Analytics on your website! If you haven’t, do so. It’s easy. And if you don’t know how, ask Twitter. Once you have stats coming through, look up “Traffic Sources” and learn about how your customers find you. Look at the search terms they use and the links they click to come to your site. Are you solving the right problems?
  • Make your website mobile friendly: “Responsive design” is a hot topic at the moment. But most of the robust content management systems have responsive design templates or plugins that can be easily added to your site. At the minimum, add responsive design templates/capabilities to your blog – after all, Google Analytics will show you that about 25% of traffic comes from mobiles.
  • Start or update your blog: What? Still no blog? That’s so 2003. If you haven’t started a blog, it’s never too late to do so. Start today (just check out IBM’s cool Tumblr as an easy-to-run example). Download WordPress and get going. And if you have a blog that hasn’t been updated for months, write a post and link to this article. Explain you are getting back on the bandwagon because you WANT to hear from your customers.
  • Go social: Whether you like it or not, social is here to stay. But you need to get your hands dirty. Setup an account on Twitter or on Facebook. Do a little stalking to find out what your customers are talking about. Connect and slowly build out a strategy. Be sure to own that strategy – and don’t delegate it to the intern. Make it part of your business and use it to learn more about your customers, partners, suppliers and even employees. CEOs all over the world are doing it, why can’t you?

Mid-Year Digital Marketing Trends 2013

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Report-2013trendsAs we begin to ramp up our efforts for the second half of 2013, it’s always worth taking a moment to reflect on what has emerged, what is emerging and the gaps that are becoming obvious in our marketing strategy and tactics.

For me, one of the things that has solidified is the notion that consumers are not only king, but the entire universe. As such they have become the centre of gravity around which brands now orbit.

Understanding and navigating this new “consumerverse” is a core requirement for any marketer.

My snapshot report on Succeeding in the New Consumerverse reveals four strategies to help marketers win in a state of disruption as usual:

  • The shift from participating to serving with purpose
  • Becoming connected and connectable
  • Realising that channels are dead
  • Embracing tech sector innovation

Register and download the report from the Constellation Research Inc website.

And if you would like to learn more about how this connects to real businesses, some of the interesting proof points that are emerging and how businesses can embrace disruption as a business imperative, take a look at my interview with Which-50’s Andrew Birmingham.

News Analysis: Adobe Acquires Cross Channel Marketing Expert Neolane For $600M

The NORAD of ABC in Austin

On June 27th, Adobe announced a letter of intent to acquire Neolane for $600M.  Neolane is a privately held, French-headquartered marketing automation software company with 47 of the top Fortune 500 companies as customers.

Marketers are thinking less about “digital marketing” and more about how to market in a world driven by digital engagement, interaction and commerce. The shift to digital has seen 20% of ad spending move to the digital domain, and is expected to reach over $50 billion in the US by 2015. And with 64% of advertisers planning to increase their paid social media ad budget and strong overall ad budget growth expected through 2015, the need for cross-channel analytics and automation is becoming pronounced.

For existing customers of Adobe, this has become a whole lot easier from today. With the announcement that Adobe is to acquire Marketing Automation leader, Neolane for $600 million in an all-cash transaction, real meat has been added to the Adobe marketing automation bone.

Forming part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, integration plans will begin from today with the transaction expected to close in Q3 2013.

Marketers may not realize it yet, but the only way that they can deliver on their customers expectations is to begin investing not just spending. And a core part of this investment through 2015 is to establish scalable marketing platforms, that deliver right time insight, robust analytics and cross-channel capabilities.

What this means for Adobe

Powerful segmentation, cross-channel segmentation augments the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

The consumer master data record was one of the major benefits of the Neolane platform.  Combining anonymous and known data will connect the dots between customer data, activity in channel and behaviour which is where the Adobe Marketing Cloud’s sweet spot lays.

The fact that Neolane also operates from a single, unified code base has obvious integration appeal from Adobe’s point of view. This should allow a more rapid integration of the Neolane functionality into the Adobe platform.

Neolane’s strong client base also provides Adobe with a stronger route to market in EMEA. The Neolane team will continue to report into CEO Stefane Dehoche. Stefan will report into Brad Rencher.

What this means for Neolane

Neolane’s strong business performance in 2012 – with 40% consolidated growth – largely led by North American market push – will benefit from the acquisition. This deal extends the Neolane footprint providing access to the Adobe partner network. This will help the push into the large/enterprise segment and see the Adobe Marketing Cloud go head to head with Salesforce, IBM and Oracle.

What does this mean for customers?

In Constellation Research’s Scaling Up with Marketing Automation Software – market overview report, Neolane was consistently ranked among the leaders in the industry. The gaps in their offering dovetail neatly with the strengths offered in the Adobe Marketing Cloud and combined, they represent a powerful change in the industry landscape.

Combine this acquisition with the recent Marketo IPO and Oracle’s purchase of Eloqua, and it shows not only consolidation across the market but a strategic strengthening of the offerings in the marketing platform space. With this deepening will also come a maturing in the market both in terms of platform buying and process automation.

  • One record to rule them all. Connecting the dots between known and unknown customers delivers significant value not just to marketers but to a whole business. Bridging the various social, digital, customer service and sales profiles that are required by the modern enterprise has contributed to the fragmentation of roles and the wasting of budgets. The use of a customer master data record opens the door to the “whole of customer” view which is not just an aspiration – but is like the marketer’s ring of power.
  • Lead nurturing and scoring reduce funnel leakage. In complex sales cycles, the buyer’s journey can take months or even years. Reducing funnel leakage through automated scoring of prospects against customer segmentation data and audience profiling provides light touch marketing that can increase lead quality and improve yield on marketing campaign investment over time. The new Adobe Marketing Cloud – combining the strength of Neolane with Adobe Analytics – provides marketers with the decision-ready analytics that help optimize cross-channel marketing programs
  • Consistency of user experience drives adoption: Business users already familiar with the logic, systems and interface of the Adobe Marketing Cloud will be able to transition easily to the integrated suite. Existing internal supporters of the platform become change advocates and further spur internal adoption and rollout through enterprise marketing teams. This, in turn, will lead to accelerated ROI
  • Connecting the Creative and Marketing Clouds: The widespread use of Adobe Creative Cloud in the execution of marketing campaigns has the potential to make the job of marketing execution much more streamlined. And in a world of right time and near-real time marketing, combining the creative and marketing clouds could provide not only market leading responsiveness – but game changing competitive advantage
  • Accelerated return on investment: With change champions and wider acceptance within the user community, organizations see accelerated return on investment (ROI) as use cases proliferate and uptake is spurred.

What does this mean for consumers?

Today’s connected consumers don’t care about a business’ digital strategy. They don’t care about your mobile strategy. What they care about is the products and services that are delivered and the consumable experience that is packaged as part of that delivery. The promise of marketing platforms is that some of the clunkiness of branded experience will disappear – and that the experience will become seamless and ubiquitous. Removing the friction in the customer experience is transformative.

What else can we expect?

For some time we have been tracking the shift away from the B2B and B2C classifications of marketing to what is essentially peer-to-peer (P2P) marketing. While this is essentially an innovation driven by consumers, this kind of acquisition helps marketers to respond to that market demand.

Like all acquisitions, the success of this will be driven by the ability of Adobe to integrate the substantial benefits and features that Neolane offers. As the deal closes and new combined product roadmap begins to take shape, this combined offering represents significant upside not only for existing Adobe and Neolane customers, but for businesses seeking greater value from their marketing investments.

Full Press Release:  Adobe to Acquire Neolane

Blog from Adobe SVP, Brad Rencher, sharing his perspective on the announcement:   Advancing the Marketing Cloud with Neolane

Announcement FAQ:  Acquisition FAQ

The NORAD of ABC in Austin Trey Ratcliff via Compfight

Marketing to Marketers – Just Add ICE

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The five forces of the Consumerization of Information Technology (CoIT) do not just affect the chief information officer (CIO). The impact of social media, Big Data, analytics, mobility, cloud computing and unified communications will be felt across every business unit and across every enterprise.

However, it is the office of the CMO – the organizational executive responsible for the “front of house” – which will be increasingly exposed to the challenges presented by consumerization. As a result, marketing leaders will face significant new strategic and technology decisions in the next two years.

Outdated theories and metrics, however, frame the practice of business marketing and continue to inhibit the ability of marketers to respond to the rapidly changing consumerized landscape. CMOs need to plan and execute against a new vision of the connected consumer.

The connected consumer, who uses a range of digital and social networking technologies, discovers, debates and decides on purchases in a completely new way. These processes occur almost completely independent of your brand, your communications and the messages they carry. The connected consumer may share your Facebook fan page with friends and buy your products on the way home. She or he may be your greatest critic or your staunchest defender. They blog, tweet, write reviews, self-publish books and hold online film festivals. They are influencers in their own right.

Marketers need to adopt a long-term view that demotes the campaign-based thinking that has dominated the marketing agenda for decades, replacing it with a focus on relationships, value and customer experience.

Companies that are prepared for the future do three things right when it comes to digital marketing. First, they understand the customer journey as a series of flows between touch points over time – and plan and execute their marketing plans accordingly. Second, they understand the power of data and analytics to create a deeper understanding of that customer and the approaches that can deliver customer engagement at scale. And finally, CMOs are recasting the marketing funnel to model and map the customer journey to better direct their marketing investments.

My report into re-casting the marketing funnel for consumer engagement set out the new touchpoints that marketers need to map against their buyers journey. But this, of course, requires an understanding of that journey not from the brand point of view – which is inside-out – but from the outside-in. And this requires additional thought, planning and preparation. In fact, it needs education.

One of the great successes of Google has been it’s relentless focus on technology. This has also been one of its great failings – and lies at the heart of its lack of success with social networking. With search – where Google clearly dominates, they have followed the ICE approach:

  • Interest – create interest and intrigue in the solution by generating immediate VALUE
  • Contextualise – help EDUCATE the audience in this new world by contextualising the old vs new with patterns of user behaviour
  • Evangelise – show, support and evangelise the OUTCOMES of the new behaviour in the new context

Not only have new behaviours emerged thanks to Google search – whole industries have been built, careers have flourished and our personal and professional lives have been shaped in new ways. Except in small pockets, this has not happened with other Google solutions.

But things are slowly changing.

GoogleBuyers The Think with Google website has become one of my favourites over the last year or so. Their recent work on the How to Go Mo website took a huge step in educating and empowering marketers in their quest to understand mobile marketing. And now, this planning tool on the customer journey helps explain some of the complexity around multi-channel / omni-channel marketing, analytics and attribution.

If Google wants to see more marketers getting value out of their digital marketing investments (which is in everyone’s best interest), then more of this work will be required. Having great technology is only half of any answer (or maybe even less). Without the people, you don’t have a party. For that, you need ICE.