Tag Archives: Testing

The Importance of Data Curation

A curator at a museum is responsible for the acquisition, care, and in some cases the removal of items from the museum’s collection.  Data curation is a similar concept, but instead of museum pieces the data curator is responsible for the data used for marketing efforts.  With good data curation, amazing things can be accomplished.  Sometimes so good it is a little scary.  With bad data curation, let’s just say that can be scary also.

A classic example of good data curation (combined with excellent execution) is the Target case in which the data archived and utilized was incredibly good.  So good, in fact, that the Target data people had figured out that a teenage girl was pregnant.  Even before her father knew.  Based on the types of products purchased by the girl, Target was able to determine that the girl was pregnant.  From the Forbes article:

. . . .So Target started sending coupons for baby items to customers according to their pregnancy scores. Duhigg shares an anecdote — so good that it sounds made up — that conveys how eerily accurate the targeting is. An angry man went into a Target outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to a manager:

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”

It happens the other way also.  Bad data curation can alienate a customer in a heartbeat.  In case you have not figured it out yet, my name is Michael.  You can imagine my surprise when I saw this e-mail the other dat with the salutation “Dear Larry”.   Dear Larry!!

Bad Data Curation

!!  Sorry Teradata – but you lost me.  The irony here is this e-mail has the sub head “How to understand and use data to drive customer engagement”.  WOW!  The first question that came to my mind was “whether this just one off in some list.  I got Larry’s e-mail, Larry got Amy’s, Amy got Justin’s, etc.  Maybe everyone in their list had a bad “to” field.

Bad Data Curation Can Undermine Your Best Direct Marketing Efforts.

You can’t make mistakes like this folks!  There is no recovering from it.  Do yourself a GIANT favor and hire good data people, (or a skilled, reliable agency).  Either way, TEST and RETEST your e-mail blasts and other customized communications BEFORE you send them out.  Especially if you are soliciting business in the area of data management.

You can’t do good things with bad data!

Marketing to the Bell Curve

While having an extensive statistical background is not a pre-requisite to being a good marketer, it is essential that all marketers have a firm grasp on the importance of the “Bell Curve” in virtually all marketing efforts.  Also known as the Normal Distribution, in a nutshell the bell curve is what it looks like when you graph a group of data points for a “normal” sample of data.  Bell-CurveWhether it is weight, income, IQ, fitness level, etc. data unvaryingly falls into a “normal” distribution when it is plotted.  It has a lot of datapoints around the middle (the average) and outliers at both the high and low extremes.  Please see the image at the right.

The implication for marketers is understanding the segments of the bell curve, and using these segments to your advantage as you orchestrate your marketing efforts.  The quick message is that you can’t market to everyone – as you move across the curve from one end to the other needs change dramatically.  It is always better to market to as specific of a segment of the group, as opposed to the group as a whole.  It is just like target marketing.  You must select who comprises your market segment (portion of the bell curve).

An example will help illustrate this.  Let’s explore the implications of the bell curve for a characteristic mentioned above; fitness level.  On the far left side of the curve, these are the “least fit” people around.  They would have to improve their fitness level significantly in order to even be considered “average”.  On the far right, are the “extreme fitness enthusiasts”.  Everyone else is somewhere closer to the middle – the “mean” or average.  Knowing this, let’s assume we are challenged with marketing a specific service – fitness club membership.  Let’s also assume we have access to proper demographics, and we can target individuals in various fitness level buckets with targeted campaigns.

Marketing to the very far left end  of the bell curve (the most unfit segment) will of course require different messaging than other segments.  For this group, appeals are probably centered on “strive for change” and “you can fit in – members are not all hard bodies”, “Free personal training to get you started” etc.  At the other extreme – the messaging is quite different.  These people have discipline established, and according to our data are already fit.  These are the hard bodies that intimidate their counterparts at the other end of the curve.  Successful appeals to this segment will likely be in messaging such as “Are your abs beach-worthy?  We can help.”  “Your competition is already training for race season.  Will you be ready?”.  This is of course if you decide to market to this group at all.  Perhaps your research shows that they are not viable candidates to join, maybe they are already doing their own thing.  There is no substitute for good research.

Defining how you market to the extremes will help guide you with your messaging across the entirety of your segments.  This of course will only give you some initial targeting ideas.  Critical of course is to do your due testing due diligence.  Ideate, test, measure, refine, re-ideate (not even sure ideate is a real word – so likely re-ideate is not, but you get the idea.)

Quick Takeaway:  Messaging is for market segments, not entire markets.



Marketing Tactics: Like Riding a Bicycle

Do you remember the first time you were able to ride a bicycle?  It is an early defining moment in our lives, it signifies commitment, independence, and achievement.   More importantly it is a major triumph over frustration and failure.  All jammed into a few precious, exhilarating moments when you feel the rush of success.  It is a major achievement in our young lives.

Think about the events that led to that triumphant, albeit fear-filled moment.  What preparation was involved?  How many tries did it take before you had “success”.  Since I recently experienced this with my kids, I have a working knowledge of what the typical experience is:

  • Practice on a tricycle, which of course is very difficult to roll over, making it an ideal first step.Kid riding a bike
  • Advance to a two-wheeler (with training wheels) which is more challenging.  This to gain some moderate exposure to maintaining balance.
  • Taking the training wheels off, and relying on someone else (a parent) to run alongside with you to keep you going.
  • Going solo – 100% on your own.  No training wheels, unassisted.
  • And then you FALL!

That is our focus today – the FALL.  What happened to you as a kid when you fell that first time.  Barring some serious injury, you likely ended up with a scraped knee, maybe a slightly bruised ego, and perhaps a few tears.  BUT YOU SURVIVED and you got back up on the bike and tried again.  Your probably went a little further, and then probably failed again.  Maybe this time you were better at falling, and avoided the scraped knee.  Eventually, through a series of attempts and inevitable failures, you succeeded.  Good thing you did not quit, or worse yet let your fear prevent you from trying in the first place.

If only we could apply this “wisdom of a child” to our marketing efforts; we would be so much better off.  In other words, plan on the scraped knee, since is part of the process.  Marketers are sometimes paralyzed by an extreme fear of failure, and they find comfort in long drawn out research and planning, which can be the handcuffs that prevent them from grabbing the opportunity.  Don’t try to devote a ton of energy and resources trying to deliver the “perfect” campaign, product launch, or promotion.  Don’t let “perfect” stand in the path of “good”.  Refining good repeatedly can get you to great.  Great is not the first part of the process.  You must fail – that is really how you learn how to do things.  You can’t formulate the perfect plan by having fantastic up-front work and preparation.  It simply does not work that way.  Do you remember reading a lot of books as a kid on how to ride a bike?

Be advised I am not advocating spending a bunch of time and money on every random idea.  I am suggesting you try a lot of new things (on a small-scale at first).  I can assure you if you try a lot of things on a trial basis, you will have many failures but also some very pleasant surprises.  Nike built a fantastic campaign around this concept – JUST DO IT!  A scraped knee does not hurt that long anyway.

PS – If I waited to develop the perfect blog post – I would still be editing post Number 1.  But that is not what this is about.  Perfect is not my goal – sharing ideas is.  By that measure I have already had a few “mini-successes”