Deliver Step Change Impact: Marketing & Analytics Obsessions

Some moments in time are perfect to reflect on where you are, what your priorities are, and then consider what you should start-stop-continue. In those moments, you are not thinking of delivering incremental change… You are driven by a desire to deliver a step change (a large or sudden discontinuous change, especially one that makes things better – I’m borrowing the concept from mathematics and technology, from “step function”).
In those moments – common around new years or new annual planning cycles – the difference between delivering an incremental change vs. a step change is the quality of ideas you are considering. In this post, my hope is to both enrich your consideration set and encourage the breadth of your goals.
My professional areas of interest cover Customer Service, User Experience and Finance, though here on Occam’s Razor my focus is on influencing incredible Marketing through the use of innovative Analytics. To help kick-start your 2019 step change, I’ve written two “Top 10” lists, one for Marketing and one for Analytics – consisting of things I recommend you obsess about.
Each chosen obsession is very much in the spirit of my beloved principle of the aggregation of marginal gains. My recommendation is that you deeply reflect on the impact of the 10 x 2 obsessions in your unique circumstance, and then distill the ten you’ll focus on in the next twelve months. Regardless of the then you choose, I’m confident you’ll end up working on challenging things that will push your professional growth forward and bring new joy from the work you do for your employer.
Ready?
First… The Analytics top ten things to focus on to elevate your game this year…
The Step

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Six Nudges: Creating A Sense Of Urgency For Higher Conversion Rates!

By every indicator available, ecommerce is continuing to grow at an insane speed. Although it may seem impossible to imagine with ecommerce already totaling up to 5% of overall commerce, there’s astronomical growth still to come.
Still, I’m heartbroken that some the simplest elements of ecommerce stink so much.
It is 2018—why are there still light gray below-the-fold add to cart buttons?
#youarekillingme
There are numerous subtle issues as well. One strategic issue is illustrated by Timbuk2.

Timbuk2 pays a huge margin to its resellers to sell their messenger bags. These resellers, in turn, give a bigger cut to Amazon, who then sells the Timbuk2 bag for 30% off. Yet, when I want to pay full price on www.timbuk2.com, I have to buy a minimum of $99 to get free shipping!
I understand channel conflict, Timbuk2, but this is just plain not being hungry. You could win bigger by cultivating higher more profitable direct relationships, especially when the old world order of commerce is collapsing all around you.
And I’m ignoring the extremely light gray font reviews…on a shade grayer background!

Painful.
(I really want to buy the Closer Laptop bag. The small one in Jet Black looks cool. I refused to buy it because I don’t want to reward a lack of ecommerce imagination. I am one person, I know it is not going to really hurt them, but I don’t know how else to protest a brand I love.)
Pause. Deep breath.
I do get excited about this stuff. My heart bleeds digital.
There is an ocean of opportunities when it comes to elevating ecommerce. In this post, I want to focus my passion and zero in on something that is difficult to

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Smarter Career Choices #3: Solve for the Global Maxima!

Today, a simple lesson that so many of us miss at great peril. In fact in your role, at this very moment, your company is making a mistake in terms of how it values your impact on the business.
The lesson is about the limitation of optimizing for a local maxima, usually in a silo.
We are going to internalize this lesson by learning from Microsoft. It is a company I love (am typing this on my beloved ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 5, using Windows Live Writer blogging software!). I bumped into the lesson thanks to their NFL sponsorship.
If you were watching the Oakland Raiders beating the hapless New York Giants (so sad about Eli) this past Sunday, you surely saw a scene like this one:

Quarterback Geno Smith using his Microsoft Surface tablet to figure out how he added two more fumbles to this career total of 43. Or, maybe it was him replaying the 360 degrees view of the three times he was sacked during the game.
The Surface tablet is everywhere in an NFL game. Microsoft paid $400 million for four years for the rights, and just renewed the deal for another year (for an as yet undisclosed sum).
For all this expense, you’ll see players and coaches using them during the game (as above). The Surface branding also gets prominent placement on the sidelines – on benches, on movable trollies and more. It is all quite prominent.
Here’s one more example: Beast mode!

I adore Mr. Lynch’s passion. Oh, and did you notice the Surface branding?
Now, let’s talk analytics and accountability.
NFL ratings are down, but an average game still gets between 15 m – 20 m viewers. That is

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The Artificial Intelligence Opportunity: A Camel to Cars Moment

Over the last couple years, I’ve spent an increasing amount of time diving into the possibilities Deep Learning (DL) offers in terms of what we can do with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Some of these possibilities have already been realized (more on this later in the post). And, I could not be more excited to see them out in the world.
Through it all, I’ve felt there are a handful of breath-taking realities that most people are not grasping when it comes to an AI-Powered world. Why the implications are far deeper for humanity than we imagine. Why in my areas of expertise, marketing, sales, customer service and analytics, the impact will be deep and wide. Why is this not yet another programmatic moment. Why the scale at which we can (/have to) solve the problems is already well beyond the grasp of the fundamental strategy most companies follow: We have a bigger revenue opportunity, but we don’t know how to take advantage? Let’s buy more hamster wheels, hire more hamsters and train them to spin faster!
Today I want shed some light on these whys, and a bit more. My goal is to try to cause a shift in your thinking, to get you to take a leadership role in taking advantage of this opportunity both at a personal and professional level.
I’ve covered AI earlier: Artificial Intelligence: Implications On Marketing, Analytics, And You. You’ll learn all about the Global Maxima, definitions of AI/ML/DL, and the implications related to the work we do day to day. If you’ve not read that post, I do encourage you to do so as it will have valuable context.
In this post, I’ve organized my

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Stop All Social Media Activity (Organic) | Solve For A Profitable Reality

Life is short.
It is time to point out an ugly truth, and to be the brave person that you are, the intelligent rational assessor of reality that you are, and kill all the organic social media activity by your company.
All of it.
Seems radical, but let’s take it one step at a time.
To give you a sense of the depth and breadth of ideas I’ll cover today, here are the sections in this post:

+ The Promise of Marketing Utopia.
+ The Broken Promise of Marketing Utopia, Implications.
+ The Broken Promise of Marketing Utopia: Examples.
+ Win Big: Stop Posting Content for Organic Reach On Social Channels.
+ Is the Huge Audience on Social Media Platforms Completely Useless?
+ Is the Idea of Marketing Utopia Permanently Dead?
+ Bottom-line.

I urge you to have an open mind. My plan is to challenge your critical thinking skills, and share lessons that will apply broadly across the professional effort you put day in and day out. Most of all, I’m excited to frame an important problem, and present solutions that will transform an important part of your marketing strategy.
Let’s go!
The Promise of Marketing Utopia. 
I hate pimping (what marketing has come to be). I adore building meaningful relationships – the kind of long-term connections where a brand truly gives a f about their customers, and gives something of value in exchange for their attention. I LOVE brands that can pull this off, and support them with my un-asked-for evangelism and precious $$$s.
Hence, you can imagine how gosh darn excited I was at the advent of Facebook and Twitter (first real social networks). There were a billion people

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Cookies To Humans: Implications Of Identity Systems On Incentives!

A story where data is the hero, followed by two mind-challenging business-shifting ideas.
At a previous employer customer service on the phone was a huge part of the operation. Qualitative surveys were giving the company a read that customers were unhappy with the service being provided. As bad customer service is a massive long-term cost – and short-term pain –, it was decided that the company would undertake a serious re-training effort for all the customer service reps and with that problems would get solved faster. To ensure customer delight was delivered in a timely manner, it was also decided that Average Call Time (ACT) would now be The success metric. It would even be tied to a customer service rep’s compensation creating an overlap between their personal success and the company’s success.
What do you think happened?
There is such a thing as employees that don’t really give a frek about their job or company, they just come to work. You’ll be surprised how small that number is. (Likewise, the number of employees that go well above the call of duty, look to constantly push personal and company boundaries is also quite small.) Most employees work diligently to deliver against set expectations.
Reflecting that, in our story, most customer service reps, re-trained, took the phone calls with the goal of driving down Average Call Time. They worked as quick as they could to resolve issues. But, pretty quickly customers with painful problems became a personally painful problem for an individual customer service rep. They hurt ACT, and comp. Solution? If the rep felt the call was going too long, self-preservation kicked in and they would hang up on the customer. Another

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It's Not The Ink, It's The Think: 6 Effective Data Visualization Strategies

Ten years, and the 944,357 words, are proof that I love purposeful data, collecting it, pouring smart strategies into analyzing it, and using the insights identified to transform organizations.
In the quest for that last important bit, I am insanely obsessive about 1. simplification and 2. pressing the right emotional buttons.
The reasons are that we all like complexity, it gives us energy :), we tend to be logical, and we often treat data output as the end when in reality the data output is just the start of the process that results in actions that deliver business impact.
Very often the output of our work with Big Data or Small Data, Google Analytics or R, will end up in a few cells of a spreadsheet or a table in Word/Keynote/PowerPoint. The stakes for this output are higher when we are in front of the Senior Leadership of any company, we have but a few minutes to communicate what we have to. Hence my two obsessions above.
In this post, with lots of pictures and real-world data examples, I want to share 6 different strategies you can leverage in service of simplification and pressing the right emotional buttons. Along our journey, I’ve also sprinkled in 15 universal truths that will bring you joy.
Here are the sections in this post:

An important assumption.
Death at the last-mile.
    1. Rebel against crapification via cluttering.
    2. Don’t fragment data, don’t forget higher order bits.
    3. Obsess with deleting information provided.
    4. Don’t run away, make the tough choices.
    5. So what? So What?? So WHAT!
    6. Sell smarter,

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Ad Block Tracking With Google Analytics: Code, Metrics, Reports

You don’t use an ad blocker, right? Of course not! You would never want to take away the opportunity a content creator has online to monetize their work via ads.
I know that at least some of you think I’m being sarcastic. I am not, and this post is all about getting the data to show you that I am indeed not being sarcastic.
I am insanely excited that we can track ad blocking behavior in Google Analytics, so easily. This post covers these key elements:
Here’s how this post unfolds…

1. Ad block: #wth
2. Technical how-to implement enhanced code guidance (Google Tag Manager or direct)
3. Setting Google Analytics front end elements (custom dimensions, advanced segments)
4. Five Reports and KPIs that deliver critical insights from ad blocking behavior

While you could call on your favorite IT BFF to do this for you, let me encourage you by saying that if I can do this all by myself…. You can do it too! Honestly, it is that easy.
Excited? Let’s go!
1. Ad block: #wth
The reason you might think I was being sarcastic above is that there is such venom in the media (of course the media!) about people who use ad blockers, and an incredible amount of hoopla around how the only reason media is dying is the awful people using ad blockers in their web browsers.
The reality is not quite that cut and dry.
First, plant me firmly in the column of people who believe that using an ad blocker is a personal choice, each person makes the moral decision they are most comfortable with. Second, I believe that the let me make cheap money by

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A Great Analyst's Best Friends: Skepticism & Wisdom!

Here’s something important I’ve observed in my experience in working with data, and changing organizations with ideas: Great Analysts are always skeptical. Deeply so.
This was always true, of course. But, it has become mission critical over the last few years as the depth, breadth, quantity and every other dimension you could apply to data has simply exploded. There is too much data. There are too many tables/charts/”insights” being rammed down your throat. There has been an explosion of “experts.”
If you are not skeptical, you are going to die (from a professional perspective).
And, yet… You can’t be paralyzed by skepticism. At some point, you have to jump. Or, you are dead (again, professionally).
Let’s do this post in two pieces.
First, a plea to be skeptical, of everything and everybody, illustrated using an example from one of the most respected sources of data out there. Followed, by advice on getting to a decision rather than what happens to poor analysts: paralysis.
Second, as we are on the topic of great analysts, I want to share how to recognize that you might be one, from a macro perspective, and, if you are, or are not, what’s your value to your company.
Surely, you are intrigued!
#1A: Skepticism is your BFF.
I saw these two numbers presented the other day: 42% of online shoppers use video for pre-purchase research. 64% use YouTube to find products.
As soon as I heard them, I knew they were horse-manure.
The source of skepticism was simple, neither number is true for me – and I’m in a place, with people, who are the most connected people on the planet with more devices to do this type of research if it was true.

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The Marketing < > Analytics Intersect: My Newsletter!

I want you to sign up for something very, very special I’m doing: Writing short stories from the intersection of marketing and analytics.
My goal is to get you promoted, you are going to love it. So. Please do sign up. But, first, as you’ve come to expect from this blog… Context…
Should you own or rent?
The logic we are taught from when we were babies is that it is better to own than rent. Reality is actually a bit more complicated.
In our context, let’s consider two applications of own and rent.
In the past I’ve spoken about own vs. rent in context of platforms. Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn are platforms where you rent your existences. Mobile and desktop websites, mobile applications are platforms you own. You own the content, you set your own creativity limits (no 140 characters or videos of only xx resolution), and you own the data on platforms you own.
I’ve also spoken about own vs. rent in context of audiences. You rent audiences on TV, Magazines, Search, Display, etc. You own audiences on your email lists, on forums you host etc.
Audiences and platforms, two places to bring our own and rent lens.
Before we go on, a quick word on the word own. It does feel odd to say you own anyone/thing. Own in this context is like as much ownership as you can apply to a seed you plant in your front yard. You need to protect it, you need to nurture it, you need to champion on its behalf, and you need to be unselfish for a long, long, long time, and maybe some day you get flowers. And, here’s the most amazing thing, if

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