Smart And Crazy: The Double-Life Of Digital Marketers

You've done the noble work. As a consumer business in a competitive market, you have aligned your management team on vision and are versed enough in your competitive set. You've made sure you know your strengths and weaknesses, and that everyone on your management team does too.

You just hired a killer creative team, led by adults and staffed by rich media wizards. You've got a marketing strategy and objectives that not only make sense, but are on the tips of the tongues of everyone in the organization, up and down the food chain and across departments.

You know your consumer reasonably well. You know not just how old they are, where they live and how much they make, but quite a bit about lifestyle points. And, finally, you've gotten your organization to embrace an approach heavily fed by data, insights and analysis.

One of the weird truths in today's marketing environment is that, no matter how sound you are on the supposedly tougher stuff of strategy and operating intelligence, you could still be off track in some very important areas. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say there are at least four areas that may drive you completely nuts if you don't commit to getting them right. The infrastructure, mechanics and data utilization imperative of a cross-channel, digitally oriented world are very demanding.



Today, we see several areas of continued strife, if not mania, inside even the strongest marketing organizations:

Consumer segmentation. We all inherently know it's not enough to rely on consumer demographics alone. Even layering in lifestyle points and anecdotal attitudinal information does not lead you to the holy grail of consumer intelligence, i.e., understanding who your best, most productive and profitable customers are. And then understanding how to create segmentation that allows you to strategically attract, retain and earn their loyalty and ongoing business.

Getting to this point requires exercising a certain discipline with the data -- and exploring the ability of your team, agency or a third party to create usable segmentation and predictive models. The data will not speak for itself, and making it sing is a big, heady job.

Testing. Many a marketer has thrown around the term multi-variate testing without being entirely sure what it is or whether it's within their reach. This is one of those areas that doesn't have to be complicated. It just means slowing down enough to confirm the testing construct and agree on what shall be tested. I think it gets complicated out of fear or lack of sureness on the best way forward.

It's one thing to have a matrix and another to have a robust testing system that allows you to auto-optimize based on results. Knowing where to start and how to scale means keeping everyone on board true to your intentions. If you haven't done the "slowing down" thing and taken the time to truly organize the situation at the outset and sync up on those intentions, your life as you know it will get muddied by a chaotic data picture.

Landing pages. This remains one of the most delicate, slow-to-adapt, aspects of digital marketing work. This is often due to all the interests involved on a website: sales, marketing, editorial, community, ad operations, merchandising, IT, and so on. The savvy marketer knows that the best landing pages deliver on brand, promise, relevancy and a swift path to conversation.

Data and site analytics often reveal the need for tuning or overhaul to service any of those requirements. And such change is not always easy to negotiate in a pool of cross-department interests that may not be as aligned as they should be when it comes to the site.

Further, if you want to engage in testing and optimization, there's no time for consensus-building on the fly. That has to happen up front, getting parties to agree that landing pages will be tested, tuned, overhauled, swapped and generally optimized to service shared business and marketing objectives. Yes, the thought of making that happen in your organization makes your eyelashes wilt.

Cross-media and custom metrics. In today's converged media world, establishing metrics is not as simple as rattling them off based on your marketing objectives. If you are crossing traditional and digital lines, you are dealing with measures that are not necessarily portable.

And, anymore, a real picture of your performance across key measures, customer segments and in service of different departments requires cross-referencing data and establishing custom metrics. Not every brain can deal with custom metrics. Hire or engage your talent well.

So much of this is the product of indecision within companies. Most of us have heard the expression, "His looks are out there writing checks his personality cannot cash." Same deal here. Beyond the business and marketing savvy front end, there remains a lot of hairy, lingering stuff that can derail the most noble and sound intentions.

Remarkably, even in a reasonably mature media environment, much of this is still stressing the system and making good men and women crazy. There are solutions for all. Crazy thought: slow down for a minute and make some choices.

2 comments about "Smart And Crazy: The Double-Life Of Digital Marketers ".
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  1. Karri Carlson from Leadtail, August 30, 2010 at 2:47 p.m.

    Truth is, you can work your tail off to ensure you're doing everything "right", and by the time you get there... "right" has shifted and you're still behind the curve! That being said, totally agree that a moment of calm focus on the 4 points above can save weeks of painful debate later on.

    Data is both a blessing and a curse in marketing. It's increasingly trendy to claim to be "data driven" in your marketing, but unless you know what question(s) you're trying to answer in the first place, data just provides blunt weaponry for the pitched battles over website content, ad creative, and campaign performance.

    What's worked in my experience: get clear on the questions you're trying to answer, agree on the data points that will provide a satisfactory answer (what kind, how many, measured by what?), and like a shark, just keep swimming.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 30, 2010 at 3:29 p.m.

    How Don Draper of you ! Or not......You are the best, Kendall.

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