What excites me about marketing and analytics? Two things.
Hooked on Learning
The first is the same thing that excites a new born baby, a child at Disneyland, a new parent and anybody who has experienced the thrill of discovery – I love learning something new every day.
The brain rewards comprehension with a squirt of dopamine. It’s the drug of choice for the brain’s pleasure center. Why is learning and understanding rewarded? Evolutionary, my dear Watson. Creatures that get hooked on curiosity learn more, survive more and reproduce more.
Curiosity is my main, driving force. I’m hooked on intellectual stimulation. I want to know.
So, when I tripped over the Internet in 1993 and saw Mosaic (the first graphical browser) for the first time, my mind got drenched with dopamine from all the possibilities I could envisage:
Access to info about anything from anywhere
Marketing changing from push to pull
People forming like-minded groups on the fly
Brands depending on the goodwill of their customers
Competitive analysis available at the click of a button
It all added up to the marketing person in me wanting to tell a persuasive story from start to finish to any who had been enticed to listen. A logical, cogent sequence of evidence to prove how my offering provided value for money, and was a good choice for the prospective customer.
I am excited about marketing analytics because, even after all of the above science fiction stuff has come to pass, there are still new things to learn every day.
There are new sources of customer engagement data:
There are new tools for integrating that data
Master Data management
Enterprise Data Warehousing
Big Data (MapReduce, Hadoop, etc.)
Dynamic Marketing Response
Everything in the Cloud
There are young, sharp minds putting two and two together and coming up and seven and I love that.
The data nerd / technophile in me rejoices that there will be no end to my education that started at the command prompt on a Basic Four, graduated to a Data General, took a happy detour into Apple IIe and Macintosh before heading to DEC VAX VMS on my way to IBM MVS.
I still get the chance to geek out as much as I like all while satisfying the second reason I love marketing analytics: The ability to dramatically improve the customer experience.
Customer Experience Optimization
I am less excited about making life better for marketers and companies, than making life better for customers.
The advent of Internet commerce brought with it a data deluge that, for the first time, allowed us to monitor online shopping behavior and optimize our marketing efforts in close enough to real time to cater to customers one-to-one.
As a prospective customer, I want to be able to get the information I want, as easily as possible and in a format that is easy to absorb.
When I bought my first home, choosing a dishwasher involved driving to four stores and spending too much time talking to uneducated salespeople who were commission-hungry. My best tool was the library where I could peruse through back issues of Consumer Reports.
Today, I can read Consumer Reports from anywhere, read owner reviews and choose from a world of configurations, styles and colors.
But my expectations have skyrocketed.
I hate arriving at a website and not being able to instantly grasp what the company does for a living.
I hate having a simple question and having to click a dozen times trying to figure out where they site owner has hidden it.
I hate to wait.
JoAnna Brandi, a customer service consultant, put it so well in a 1995 presentation about website load times. “Come on, come on,” she said anxiously, “I don’t have all minute!” While that was a bummer back then, today we know that each additional second of load time correlates directly to diminished engagement and diminished conversion.
Marketing analytics gives us the means to make the interactive (be it web, social, mobile or whatever comes next) better.
I don’t expect the customer experience to ever live up to my skyrocketing expectations, but if enough companies perfect the art of serving me real time, dynamic content based on my personal behavioral data then I’ll be able to help them up their game yet again. And I’ll keep learning.