Uncertain times: Monday’s Daily Brief
Data helps, but the future remains in many ways unpredictable.
MarTech’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s digital marketing leader. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.
Good morning, Marketers, could you have predicted it?
There isn’t much in the last 18 months that we could have seen ahead of time, from 2019 or earlier. For instance, just because there was already technology in the marketplace for work-from-home setups and virtual conferences didn’t mean that businesses would be using them the way they’ve had to.
This means that there have been some unexpected upsides, since nobody could know how things would shake out. And at Third Door Media, the parent company of MarTech, our CEO and founding partner Chris Elwell has recently shared some of these experiences, along with the news that MarTech and SMX events will be all virtual in 2022.
We have more data and experience, including the success of our MarTech conference this month, to look forward with confidence to future virtual events that will continue to engage and inspire thousands of tech-minded marketers.
Predictive analytics to navigate uncertain times
Even in uncertain times, AI-driven predictive analytics can help marketers see what opportunities are coming down the pike. So why isn’t this technology being used by more CMOs? At his talk at this month’s MarTech conference, TrustInsights.ai Chief Data Scientist Christopher Penn showed some ways any marketing team can predictively leverage their data. And he also shared some head-scratching.
“About two-thirds of CMOs said that they’re managing the present, they’re putting out fires right now, and only about a third are looking towards the future, even in a period of time where planning and contingencies are so important, during the global pandemic,” said Penn, citing numbers from Duke University’s most recent CMO survey.
Much of the way marketers use predictive analytics is customer-focused. They want to find customers who are more likely to buy. And to be more efficient, marketers will put their efforts and budget into engaging these customers with more intent.
Another time-saving method, however, focuses on the timing of an event or opportunity that marketers can jump on. This strategy, called time series forecasting, can also help marketers avoid a bump in the road and save themselves from a headache.
Drawing on your company’s current data resources, algorithms can arrange the data into patterns, and AI makes the insights even more actionable. The two main patterns or themes that predictive analytics determines are seasonality and cyclicality. They are repeatable phenomena that marketers can see coming over the horizon and act on them.
“Seasonality includes the things happening over given periods of time that are seasonal,” Penn said. Then, there’s influences according to what’s happening in time, and cyclicality is that cycle, that rhythm. Our data should generally be seasonal and, generally, be cyclical.”
Shopify partners with Yahoo ad services
Last week, Yahoo announced a new partnership with Shopify, linking the e-commerce platform’s SMB merchants with Yahoo’s premium environments, including Yahoo Finance, AOL and elsewhere.
Through this partnership, Shopify merchants gain access to the Yahoo ConnectID, which has been integrated by over 3,000 publisher domains, including Cafe Media and Newsweek. Using Yahoo ConnectID, merchants can feed the most relevant products to their customers who are engaging with content on those publishers.
Merchants will also have access to Yahoo’s Dynamic Product Ads, managing Yahoo ad campaigns directly within their Shopify admin, where they can also set up and monitor campaigns in near real-time.
Why we care. According to Yahoo, before this partnership, Yahoo ConnectID had over 200 advertisers and agencies using it. With the Shopify partnership, many smaller merchants will potentially be taking advantage of affordable campaigns that use this premium inventory.
Shopify’s recent partnership with Roku achieves a similar upgrade to SMB ad campaigns. Data and identity technology are enabling smaller-scale advertisers to achieve relevant campaigns on premium streaming and online news experiences.
The A-B-Cs of ABM
Account-based marketing or ABM is a B2B marketing strategy that aligns sales and marketing efforts to deliver targeted advertising, as well as personalized content and messaging, to high-value accounts.
An ABM strategy recognizes that B2B purchase decisions are often made by a group of individuals within the company, and ABM tools automate many of the data and workflow processes that enable this approach.
ABM isn’t new, though. It has been used by B2B marketers for well over a decade. But rapid advances in the sophistication and accessibility of relevant data – and in technologies that enable ABM – are now fueling widespread interest and adoption of this approach.
A successful ABM strategy aligns sales and marketing departments to focus on a select number of high-value accounts that represent the highest potential business opportunity. ABM “flips” the typical sales funnel by starting with a small group of accounts (rather than casting a wide net at the top) that widens as accounts are nurtured down into the funnel to create greater value to the organization.
Boost ROI with clean data
Marketers know accurate data is table stakes. It helps organizations make better decisions for their customers and, in turn, increases ROI.
Yet even the most meticulous brands more often than not find errors within their datasets. A study published by Zoominfo found that 94% of businesses suspect their customer data is inaccurate.
“In 2017 we took a look at our data and found that it was good, but ultimately it wasn’t great and we really wanted it to be so,” said Dominic Freschi, Senior Data Administrator, Marketing at accounting and consulting firm Armanino, speaking at MarTech. “When we took that deep dive, we found that there were some things clouding that view. Things like missing data, bad or old data, siloed data over to the side, duplicates spanning across multiple systems.”
Freschi says his organization decided to clean up this data so they could fully trust it going forward.
Cleaning up your data with a process automation platform can make the process more efficient. These systems help marketers aggregate internal, partner, and open data into a central repository.
“We can ultimately push it back into our systems so that we’re getting that cleaned data that we can use from then on,” said Freschi, speaking on his own company’s platform choice. “And it’s all done in one app, so it’s very easy to build on top of what we’ve already done with our data.”
Using data to understand use cases
Use cases show brands how consumers interact with their products and services. They highlight the individual experiences of customers so companies can better connect with them.
Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to organize and manage use cases, especially in large organizations.
“Now a lot of companies that we talked to struggle with where to begin in terms of how to prioritize and even identify what their use cases are,” said Karen Wood, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Acquia, in her MarTech presentation. “So, we always recommend starting to look at use cases in the realm of how would that impact the end consumer.”
She added, “So rather than thinking about the different teams in the different brands that are leveraging the use cases, what is the experience going to be like for the end consumer?”
What makes identifying use cases so difficult has much to do with generic and disjointed experiences, says Wood. Multiple departments, channels, and teams often lead to siloed consumer experiences.
“So, rather than thinking about it as the consumer flows through the journey across many different experiences, it’s really each individual siloed team or department that’s powering the discrete and unique experiences,” said Wood. “Our recommendation as we talk about use cases is to think about it cohesively across teams across touchpoints, and really what it’s like for that consumer at the receiving end.”