Category: data
Shamir Duverseau

Maximize Data with Lean Thinking

Build. Measure. Learn. Those three words are at the core of Lean methodology, a way of doing business that incorporates elements from Six Sigma, agile development, design thinking, and other sources. Lean methodology is a modern application to business that has a longer history in the manufacturing industry, originating in the Toyota Production System in the 1950s. It has since been used by successful startups and large corporations alike, across industries. Lean’s continuous improvement cycle enables companies to make meaningful progress by getting the best use of customer data and intelligence.

When it comes to the digital experience, Lean thinking can be a tool of immeasurable power. From acquiring qualified traffic to converting those prospects into customers to retaining those customers to build lifetime value, a Lean viewpoint can help optimize every touchpoint of the customer journey. As this is especially the case in a considered purchase industry, Lean is now at the heart of how we at Smart Panda Labs are helping our clients drive customer lifetime value.

Here’s how.

Build

Everyone knows that building products and services that meet customer needs is a primary goal of any business. But customer needs are varied and nuanced, requiring answers to a long list of questions. If you wait to answer all the questions at once, or worse, assume you already know the answers, you risk high costs and wasted time at best. At worst, you risk the failure of an initiative, a division, or an entire organization.

This is why the term “minimal viable product,” or MVP, has become so popular and so important. A tenet of Lean and Agile methodologies, an MVP is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development.  Each iteration of this streamlined product or service is meant to answer a question or two, or meet a set of demands, but not all demands at once.

We have learned the value of MVPs for our clients’ products as well as our own. So, we build new services and processes, not as fait accomplis, but as MVPs in order to ensure that are meeting client needs.

Measure

Objectivity does not come easily to modern day organizations. While gathering unbiased data is becoming easier, there remains a persistent risk of a biased interpretation of the data.

Lean accounts for this through customer-centric experimentation and measurement, allowing customer interactions and feedback to live at the center of the story. Actionable metrics inform whether your customer is experiencing your product in the way you hypothesize, or if you need to pivot. Either way, customer data and creative intelligence are guiding your decisions, thus maximizing the results.

Our own actionable metrics include feedback from our clients. How do they feel our innovation is helping them? Is it making things easier or harder? Is it aiding them in meeting goals or communicating with teams? The answers to these questions, along with many others, will help us to know whether or not we are moving in the right direction. And these decisions can be based on real feedback, and not simply cool ideas that we fall in love with but bring no benefit to the client.

Learn

“If you cannot fail, you cannot learn.” Eric Reis, the author of The Lean Startup, makes this simple but important point. Not everything works out the way you envisioned. Lean tells us that with every failure comes a wonderful opportunity to learn and iterate. The key is to embrace the opportunity.

For example. One of our clients engaged us to run an experiment on their website. The first test we helped them run failed miserably and quickly. It was designed to be a quick win … but turned out to be far from it. However, the resulting learnings from this failure yielded another experiment that was impactful in both its effect on the business goals (adding seven figures of incremental revenue for the year) and the additional customer insights it yielded.

Failure can’t always be the primary concern. Whether or not we are learning from these failures is what matters. We use our learnings to improve products and services on behalf of our clients, and also to improve the client experience we provide. What makes us better at our jobs also makes for better relationships.

Build. Learn. Measure. This is the backbone of how we harness data and creative intelligence to help our clients drive value from their customers, and it is becoming the method by which we serve our clients, period. If you are reading this, you are more than likely someone’s client. Should you expect any less?

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Lean methodology is a continuous improvement approach that enables companies to make meaningful progress by getting the best use of customer data and intelligence.
  • A key tenet of Lean is the “minimum viable product,” or MVP, which encourages the release of a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product
  • Lean also emphasizes customer-centric experimentation and measurement, so that customer data and creative intelligence are guiding decision making.
  • Lean tells us that with every failure comes a wonderful opportunity to learn and iterate. The key is to embrace the opportunity.
  • As applied to digital marketing strategy, a Lean viewpoint can help optimize every touchpoint of the digital experience—from acquiring qualified traffic to converting those prospects into customers to retaining those customers to build lifetime value,
  • Lean and its backbone of Build, Measure, and Learn is now at the heart of how we improve products and services for clients. It also informs how we improve the overall experience we provide our clients.
Category: data
Shamir Duverseau

Data, Diversity, and Design

In his best-selling 2005 book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell’s discusses how humans think without thinking. Choices that seem to be made in an instant—in the blink of an eye—actually aren’t as simple as they seem. 

How does this process impact the digital experience? Does diversity in design make a difference? What key role does design play in this process? And if so, how do we measure this and tie it to meeting and exceeding business goals? 

These were some of the questions we tackled earlier this month at the dmi: Diversity in Design conference in Washington D.C. Smart Panda Labs Co-Founder Cheryl Myers and I led a session on how design—in particular, design representative of diversity—can and should be informed by data gleaned from digital experimentation.

Rapid cognition and thin-slicing

We began our session with an anecdote Gladwell presents in his introductory chapter of Blink. In 1983, an art dealer named Gianfranco Becchina approached the J. Paul Getty Museum in California claiming to have a marble statue known as a “kouros,” dating from the sixth century B.C. Becchina’s asking price for the statue was $10 million. The Getty took the kouros on loan and began a thorough investigation to authenticate it. From scientific evidence of its age to the bevy of documentation of the statue’s recent history and provenance, there was ample proof of the statue’s authenticity. The Getty concluded its investigation and agreed to buy the statue.

The kouros went up on display, receiving glowing reviews. However, the statue did not look right to a few people – namely an Italian art historian Federico Zeri (who served on the Getty’s board of trustees), Evelyn Harrison (a foremost expert on Greek sculpture), and Thomas Hoving (the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York). They were each taken to the see the sculpture, and in what seemed like an instant, they all came to the conclusion that there was something off about the sculpture. All concluded that it was a fake.

The Getty launched a further investigation and found inconsistencies in the documents that supposedly proved the kouros’ provenance. It discovered that the statue actually most resembled a forged kouros that came from a workshop in Rome in the early 1980s. It turned out that dolomite could be aged in a matter of a few months using potato mold. The sculpture was indeed a fake.

“When [the art historians] looked at the kouros and felt an ‘intuitive repulsion,’ they were absolutely right,” writes Gladwell. “In the first two seconds of looking—in a single glance—they were able to understand more about the essence of the statue than the team at the Getty was able to understand after fourteen months.”

At the heart of Blink is the concept of rapid cognition, or “thin-slicing,” the process by which people make quick assessments using a limited amount of evidence. For better or worse, a staggering number of our decisions result from thin-slicing and instinctive hunches about how to act. While the conscious mind is good at studying a wide range of evidence and drawing conclusions from it, our “adaptive unconscious” is adept at assessing a very small amount of evidence about the external world—a “thin slice”—and then forming an instinctive response.

Gladwell is clear in the fact that rapid cognition is often imperfect and sometimes dangerous. After all, this how many prejudicial decisions are made. However, he argues that rapid cognition plays a valuable role in human behavior—a role that’s too-often ignored.

Designing with diversity in mind

As part of a firm specializing in optimizing digital experiences, my colleagues and I must be keenly aware of the rapid cognition and thin slicing that happens as a very natural part of digital engagement. Just as the art and antiquities experts brought their own expertise and personal experiences to bear in their snap judgment of the kouros, consumers are similarly informed by their own knowledge and experience when they interact with a brand’s website, for example. Everything about us, including our ethnicity, gender, geography, and age affect our world view. In our digital exchanges, we must be aware that the impressions made on users may not be the effect intended.

So how does this understanding of human cognition square with our roles as designers and digital strategists? And what do brands and businesses need to bear in mind? Just as our workforces need to be diverse and inclusive in order to better reflect the perspectives of our audiences and consumers, so should our digital experiences reflect the realities of those for whom we are designing.

During our session at the dmi conference, we shared a series of stock photos and website landing pages and asked our audience to share their impressions. The exercise helped to embellish upon our previous discussion on thin-slicing, and it also demonstrated the fact that diversity is relative.

What is diverse to someone from a rural and perhaps less racial diverse area of the country or the world is markedly different from someone from an urban center teeming with diversity. How do you balance such relativity with a desire to make design as personal as possible?

In pursuit of digital experiences that resonate, be data driven

What we see matters. But the question is, how much? Instead of making assumptions about your users, think of yourself as a student of the digital experiences you provide.

Experimentation, testing, and choosing a “learn-it-all” mindset over a “know-it-all” one (see Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s best-selling book, Mindset) is winning at some of the largest and most successful companies.

Take Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who recently said about the mindset he is implementing at Microsoft: “Some people can call it rapid experimentation, but more importantly, we call it ‘hypothesis testing.’ Instead of saying ‘I have an idea,’ what if you said ‘I have a new hypothesis, let’s go test it, see if it’s valid, ask how quickly can we validate it.’ And if it’s not valid, move on to the next one.”

Or Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who says, “Our success is a function of how many experiments we do per year, per month, per week, per day.”

Or Mark Zuckerberg, who said of Facebook, “One of the things I’m most proud of, and I think the key to our success, is this testing framework we’ve built.”

If you want to understand to what degree diversity plays a role in the products or services you’re offering, test it, and let the data reveal the answer. For example, change the images on your site to demonstrate differing kinds of diversity, such as gender, ethnicity, age, ability, and intersectionality—overlapping aspects of social categorizations—as much as possible. You may also want to highlight ADA compliance, as another example. Facebook data may be helpful to you in terms of understanding some of the interests and perspectives of your target audiences, and you can consider including some of that content on your site. Throughout this process, we recommend keeping your key performance indicators (KPIs) top of mind and maintaining authenticity—your goal here is to surface diversity without being disingenuous.

Now it’s time to put your efforts to the test. Here are the five steps we suggest in the experimentation process:

  1. Define your audiences
  2. Consider what diversity is for each audience
  3. Test—A/B testing, focus groups, and usability labs are all examples of types of test
  4. Read reactions, not explanations (think “adaptive unconscious” vs. conscious)

On this latter step, the point I am trying to make is that a user’s initial reaction, in the form of a rating, for example, is more useful data respective to a digital experience than a conscious explanation; that instant reaction more closely mirrors how decisions are made in such a context. In Blink, Gladwell shares examples of how this works in other contexts as well.

The impact of the changes you are testing can be measured in many ways, such as overall satisfaction (feedback, surveys, net promoter scores), site engagement, social media engagement, and conversion rates. Analyze the data to see if changes you’re making to your digital experience are moving the needle and helping you meet your KPIs.

Then, use your findings to evangelize the value of diversity throughout your organization.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Rapid cognition plays a valuable role in human behavior and has a lot to do with how consumers experience digital. “Thin slicing” happens as a very natural part of digital engagement.
  • Everything about us, including our ethnicity, gender, geography, and age affect our world view. In our digital exchanges, we must be aware that the impressions made on users may not be the effect intended.
  • If you want to understand to what degree diversity plays a role in the products or services you’re offering, test it, and let the data reveal the answer.
  • The impact of the changes you are testing can be measured in many ways, such as overall satisfaction (feedback, surveys, net promoter scores), site engagement, social media engagement, and conversion rates. Analyze the data to see if changes you’re making to your digital experience are moving the needle and helping you meet your KPIs.
  • Just as our workforces need to be diverse and inclusive in order to better reflect the perspectives of our audiences and consumers, so should our digital experiences reflect the realities of those for whom we are designing.
  • Use your findings to evangelize the value of diversity throughout your organization.
Category: data
Shamir Duverseau

3 Steps to Knowing Your Customers Better

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, Get to Know Your Customers Day is observed annually on the third Thursday of each quarter (January, April, July, October). It’s a day intended to encourage businesses to reach out to their patrons and get to know them better.

Oh, you had no idea that today was Get to Know Your Customers Day? Me neither. Evidently, I missed National Salami Day and National Ampersand Day last month as well, but luckily, I am catching this one just in time. All joking aside, taking a day a quarter to reflect on consumer insights and personalization is more than a great idea—it’s essential to your marketing strategy.

So, in honor of this occasion, here are three basic steps we can all follow to learn more about our customers and act accordingly.

#1 Learn their preferences

The best way to collect customer preferences? Ask them! If they are a part of your email database, send an email and ask them what they would like to learn more about, what products or services they are interested in, how and when they want to hear from you.

You can also capture this information while visitors are on your site. Software tools such as Qualtrics, HotJar, and SurveyMonkey enable you to serve visitors with a simple survey while they are already engaging with your brand.

Today’s consumers expect personalization, so they will appreciate that you’re taking an interest in their preferences.

#2 Store their preferences

Now that you asked for the information, you have to put it somewhere—ideally a client relationship management (CRM) system. Because this information may be coming from various sources, a customer data platform like Tealium can help you unify and accurately connect those data points to the same person across multiple touchpoints and send that information to your CRM. This way you can build a comprehensive customer view in real time and take the next steps within the technologies you already use.

3) Use their preferences

You’ve asked the right questions and collected the right information. To make all that data valuable, you have to act on it. Your customers’ preferences should be reflected in the experiences you provide for them. You’ll be showing them that what they say matters, while simultaneously encouraging further engagement with and loyalty to your brand.

There are countless ways to leverage customer insights to further engagement and personalization. As one example, we recently built a personalization campaign for a travel client that promoted travel destinations based on data; if most New York residents who visited the site ended up booking a stay in Florida, the site would promote Florida offers for all visitors from New York. However, once that same New York person visited a specific destination page on the site, such as California, the promotional offers would shift from Florida to California. This use of customer preference data increased revenue per visit by 45%.

As marketers, we tend to make decisions based on our personal experiences and opinions. But the truth is, it’s not about us.

You may not be able to achieve 1:1 personalization or engagement—at least not across all touchpoints. Most businesses can’t. However, most brands can get a lot closer than they are today. And the closer you get—the better you get to know your customer—the better the results.

Key Takeaways

  • Today’s consumers expect personalization, so they will appreciate that you’re taking an interest in their preferences The best way to collect customer preferences? Ask them!
  • Software tools such as Qualtrics, HotJar, and SurveyMonkey enable you to serve visitors with a simple survey while they are already engaging with your brand.
  • Data about consumers needs to be stored somewhere; a customer data platform like Tealium can help you unify and accurately connect those data points to the same person across multiple touchpoints and send that information to your CRM.
  • Your customers’ preferences should be reflected in the experiences you provide for them. You’ll be showing them that what they say matters, while simultaneously encouraging further engagement with and loyalty to your brand.

 

Category: data
Alex Corzo

Salesforce is Getting (Even More) Personal

Several of my colleagues and I recently returned from the 2018 Salesforce Connections conference in Chicago — an outstanding event focused on supporting connected customer journeys. There were dozens of sessions designed to help digital marketers better understand how to how to create personalized experiences at every touchpoint, specifically in light of constantly evolving technology and the new ways in which customers interact with devices (you can read some of our takeaways here). The conference was also an exciting opportunity to learn about many of the upcoming changes for the Salesforce 2018/19 roadmap, including a partnership with Google and the introduction of Interaction Studio.

Salesforce Connections Conference

Friendly Giants

In his keynote address, Salesforce President and Chief Product Officer Bret Taylor announced data integration between two giants of the cloud — Google Analytics 360 and the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. New Google Analytics 360 integration will evolve the capabilities of marketers to ingest analytics information into their Marketing Cloud journeys, and consumer insights from both Marketing Cloud and Google Analytics 360 will be brought together into a single analytics dashboard (inside Marketing Cloud). Conversely, Marketing Cloud data will be viewable inside Google Analytics 360 for attribution analysis and also to empower Marketing Cloud information to deliver more customized web experiences.

Salesforce President and Chief Product Officer Bret Taylor announced data integration between two giants of the cloud — Google Analytics 360 and the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Also in the pipeline (a beta version will be available later this year) is the ability to create audience segments, such as loyalty members and abandoned browsers, in Google’s Analytics 360 before connecting with those audiences within Marketing Cloud. “For the first time ever, audiences created inside the Google Analytics 360 platform can be activated outside of Google, in the Marketing Cloud,” explained Taylor.

Relevant Experiences in Real Time

Taylor further announced the official launch of Interaction Studio, a new Marketing Cloud solution that enables companies to deliver contextually relevant experiences in real-time across their channels. The introduction of Interaction Studio will change how marketers evaluate cross-channel messages to see a holistic view of when and how customers are interacting with a brand to deliver unique messages based on key moments that matter most to customers. With Interaction Studio, marketers can now see, track, and manage consumer experiences in real time from multiple channels.

This new solution continues to evolve personalization by integrating data and platforms that were once siloed and allowing marketers to better anticipate, predict and act on customer patterns. Interaction Studio will make it easier for marketers to translate those insights into timely and relevant communications.

Bigger and better things are on the horizon with Salesforce that take customization and personalization to the next level. At Smart Panda Labs, we will be using these tools to help clients provide the personal touch and instant gratification their customers now expect.

Key Takeaways

  • New Google Analytics 360 integration will evolve the capabilities of marketers to ingest analytics information into their Marketing Cloud journeys.
  • Consumer insights from both Marketing Cloud and Google Analytics 360 will be brought together into a single analytics dashboard (inside Marketing Cloud).
  • Marketing Cloud data will be viewable inside Google Analytics 360 for attribution analysis and also to empower Marketing Cloud information to deliver more customized web experiences.
  • Also in the pipeline is the ability to create audience segments in Google’s Analytics 360 before connecting with those audiences within Marketing Cloud.
  • The introduction of Interaction Studio will change how marketers evaluate cross-channel messages to see a holistic view of when and how customers are interacting with a brand to deliver unique messages based on key moments that matter most to customers.

 

Category: data
Jessica Porges

Feeling Outnumbered? Try the Major System

Have a long list of data to present to your boss or a client? Or maybe you just want to remember your parking spot number at the mall for once in your life. While this may not be a typical Smart Panda Labs post, we can’t resist sharing a fun and memorable (literally) takeaway from Opticon17, Optimizely’s annual conference.

As an analyst, I’m inundated with numbers. I’ve always strived to recall data on the spot for clients and colleagues, like click through rates or weekly revenue, but like most humans (and pandas), I tend to resort to my notes. But at last month’s conference, I was introduced to an amazing mnemonic device for memorizing numbers known as the Major System. Created by Stanislaus Mink von Wennsshein sometime in the 17th century, the system works by converting numbers into consonant sounds, then into words by adding vowels. This technique is predicated on the principle that images can be remembered more easily than numbers. And the more striking (or crazy) the image, the better. (We’ll get to that!)

At the heart of the Major system is a 10-item mnemonic table (see below) to help you convert the digits 0-9 into corresponding sounds, which we’ll eventually use to form words. If this looks a little baffling at first, rest assured that is takes only about 20 minutes to memorize. And once you’ve got it, you can use it forever.

table from https://litemind.com/major-system/

As you can see, each digit can be assigned a letter or sound. The number “23,” for example, maps to the consonants, T and N. To create a word around the consonants, the other letters should be vowels or vowel sounds (w, h or y), or silent letters (like the “b” in “debt”.) Note that the conversions are strictly phonetic and thus based on how the words sound—not how they’re spelled. For 23, TowN is an example of a word that works. There are obviously many possible permutations here, including teen, tan, and tin. But town seems like the best choice, as you should aim to use words that are easy to visualize. Concrete nouns—such as objects or animals (PaNDa is 921!)—always work better than abstract nouns, adjectives or verbs.

Here is another example. Say you need to remember yesterday’s website bookings—47—for a meeting. 4=r and 7=k/q sounds. RaKe is a simple word that works. So now I’m imagining literally raking in a pile of dollars from the bookings.

Maybe you also need to remember total revenue for last week’s website activity—$9,538. Longer numbers like this can be broken into multiple words, so let’s split this number into 95 and 38.

  • 9=b or p, 5=l. The first word could be Poo
  • 3=m, 8=v or f. Second word could be MoVie.

Once you have multiple words to remember, you can begin to craft a story. The more interesting or wacky the story, the better. Imagine swimming in a PooL on a cruise ship with a MoVie playing on the deck.

Enter Your Palace

If you have a lot of numbers to memorize, or fantasize about performing some serious party tricks, the Major system ties perfectly to another technique that has been used since ancient Rome. Known as the Memory Palace technique, it’s responsible for some incredible memory feats. Eight-time world memory champion Dominic O’Brien, for instance, memorized 54 decks of cards in sequence (2808 cards!), viewing each card only once.

A “Memory Palace” is a metaphor for any well-known place that you’re able to easily visualize, like the inside of your home or your daily route to work. The more vividly you can visualize the details of that place, the more effective your memorization will be. You’ll take a mental walk through your palace, mapping words to your journey at every step. The key is to construct a scene that is as wacky, nonsensical, lewd or grotesque as possible. Experts in this technique warn that if it’s boring, you’re doing it wrong. You want to cater to your mind’s propensity to latch onto the absurd.

Let’s try an example. For an upcoming presentation, I want to remember the following percentages. (Note that to remember whether these values increase or decrease, I’m going to make positive or negative associations in my palace, respectively.)

Bookings: +30% m/m = MouSe
Revenue +25% m/m = NaiL
Visits -10% m/m = ToeS
First Time Visitors -20% m/m = NoSe

So here it goes.

  • I walk up to my front door to a MouSe in a top hat, who opens the door for me and greets me in a British accent.
  • We walk into the entryway together, and he puts his top hat onto a NaiL to hang it.
  • As we walk past the living room, I trip over the rug and hit the ToeS on my left foot on the coffee table—ouch!
  • As I’m hopping into the kitchen to get ice for my foot, I run into the kitchen wall and hit my NoSe, which starts to bleed.

While this may seem like a lot of effort just to memorize these numbers, it becomes a speedy brain activity with practice. And once you’ve committed to your Memory Palace narrative, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the numbers come to you.

It’s also helpful to have a pre-defined word list for numbers 0-9 and 00-99. As you use the same words over and over again, you will be able to retrieve the numbers from your memory bank faster each time.

With a little upfront effort and some practice, you’ll soon be the star of your business meetings—or a very memorable party guest.

Key Takeaways

  • In the major system, each digit from 0 to 9 is matched with a group of similar consonant sounds.
  • For any set of numbers, there are many possible words that you can use to memorize them
  • The conversions are strictly phonetic and thus based on how the words sound—not how they’re spelled. This technique makes it very easy to do the translation from words to numbers in your head because you don’t have to worry about how the word is spelled.
  • The Major system ties perfectly to the Memory Palace technique. A Memory Palace is an imaginary location in your mind where you can store mnemonic images.
  • The most common type of memory palace involves making a journey through a place you know well, like a building or town.
  • Once you’ve mapped your words to your memory palace, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you will be able to retrieve these words—and the numbers they represent—from your memory bank.