Author Archive

Hillary Ashton

Hillary Ashton has 20 years of experience in helping Fortune 500 companies across various industries such as retail, financial services, telecom, manufacturing and hospitality. As SVP of Customer Analytics at Manthan, Ashton is focused on helping B2C businesses leverage marketing, analytics and technology to better understand their customers and drive profits. Prior to Manthan, she served in various marketing leadership positions at SAS, Digitas and several technology startups.
Disney retail customer experience

Top Ten Ways Disney Sets The Bar For The Retail Customer Experience

As I am preparing to take my two young boys to Disney I am struck by what we in the retail space can learn from the Disney retail experience. Wait! Disney is not a retailer. It doesn’t matter. The customer experience Disney provides IS a retail experience. Here are some moments of excellence and how we can adopt them into the retail space:

1. Recommendation Engine (with real people!):

Booking online, a chat agent was immediately available to assist me with my room and category needs. Of course in retail this translates to ecommerce chat to assist with size and fit.

2. Up Sell:

Immediate email confirmation of my booking with links to everything I might want to do (purchase a PhotoPass as an up-sell, book Disney Dining to increase basket size and book advanced ride passes to guarantee a magical experience).

3.Single view of customer :

Every single booking I’ve made ranging from restaurant to ride passes to PhotoPass are all in my single customer record. Disney knows who I am and what I plan to do and then makes suggestions for what I might want to do next.

4. Logistics:

My Disney bands and luggage tags arrived within 48 hours of my reservation. It exceeded my expectations. Oh and they were sent in a plain box – no spoiler for my kids who didn’t know yet. Retailers can learn from BOTH of these. (Thanks Amazon for ruining Christmas present surprise by shipping an item in its box with a PHOTO of it on the outside of the box.)

5. Ship to Store:

Wait you say, Disney isn’t shipping anything to a store! Well their online check-in option is similar, I can check in on line make my room preference known and when I land in Orlando my room number is texted to me and my Magic Band will be switched on to open my door.

6. Loyalty Card/Payment:

The Magic Bands provide a loyalty card/payment option for me. No need to recite my phone number bring a credit card, or provide another ID. It is a simple way to get into the park, get into my room, pay for dinner, and buy merchandise in the shops at the property.

7. Useful App:

The Disney app tells me when what restaurants have availability and ride wait times. It is appropriate for the media (phone) and relevant to my geo-location and needs. It also tells me where Mickey and Donald will be at what time and how long the wait is for their autograph.

8. Householding:

Disney knows my kids and my husband and knows we are all a single household. It allows me to book different kids on different rides and have a Single view of our plan. In retail imagine if I could get recommendations for clothes or food based for each member of my household appropriately and under my control.

9. Appropriate Meaningful Well Organized Content:

Disney has the ability to search restaurants and rides by preference and posts restaurant menus and costs and height limits for each ride. The website is easy to navigate on my PC, Mac, iPad and iPhone.

10. Magic :

The entire Disney pre-trip experience has been flawless across all channels (phone, email, web, mobile and app). It has lived up to its brand promise of Magical. Stay tuned for the trip report …. Related Solution: Transform your Customer Marketing with Manthan’s Customer Analytics Solution
CMO Leadership Forum

Overheard in the Market-Argyle CMO Leadership Forum

I recently returned from the Argyle CMO Leadership Forum in San Francisco, where top marketing executives across industries gathered to discuss best practices in marketing. If you sat in the main session room – you would have heard these words/phrases often – data, agile, digital, limited resources, experience, customer centricity, journey, persona, etc. Depending on who you talked to, the general outlook was ‘glass half full’ or ‘glass half empty’. Personally, I think there is a tremendous amount of opportunity for marketers today to challenge and overcome the status quo, especially after listening to a particular speaker at the event – Julian Aldridge. Argyle session speaker Julian Aldridge, VP of Brand Evangelism and Activation at Charles Schwab, said that marketing today is all about attitude and leading from the front. His session, entitled “Leaving Fear Behind: How Venture Marketing Vanquishes Fear” covered the issues that marketers face today (i.e., you’re only as good as your last campaign) and why that’s ineffective for the well-oiled marketing organization. For those of you not familiar with the term, venture marketing is an approach to marketing that aligns with a venture capitalist’s approach to investment. In the VC world, investors take risks and bet with the expectation that they may only win 75-90% of the time. And these wins – well, they’re big wins. So, the old point of view (you’re only as good as your last campaign”) is no longer a mantra in the new world of venture marketing. Now we’re talking about being OK with failure – as long as we’re taking each test scenario as an opportunity to learn. In a related piece in the Argyle Journal, Aldridge mentions that his CMO is a fan of the saying, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” The Charles Schwab VP interprets this cliche through a “venture marketing” lens – noting that venture marketing breaks the marathon into a series of one-mile increments, where each mile is a complete test, opportunity to collect data and potential for a big win. During the speaking session, Aldridge highlighted an excellent example of venture marketing in action – Adidas. Yes, the footwear brand sponsored last year’s World Cup (holy investment Batman!). But Adidas moved beyond the traditional television spots to achieve on its marketing objectives with a content-first strategy. This content strategy enabled Adidas to execute small, agile-oriented tactics to build positive buzz for the brand. The brand used social media to broadcast its content on a mass scale, used its sponsorship to access teams, players and other assets to drive its campaign content. In the end, the company increased brand interactions by seven times and significantly exceed its planned sales goal for the World Cup Adidas ball. The practice of venture marketing is new – and like content marketing, there’s much buzz but not ‘tried and true’ step-by-step processes for success. What I mean is that there’s no single right way to approach venture marketing for your business. Aldridge did point out a couple of useful tips though:
  • If you can’t get your marketing project up and running in 90 days, then it’s not a venture marketing project
  • Create a marketing backlog – much like an agile developer’s backlog – to explore brand stories, epics, and themes
  • Amplify everything with social
  • Beta test commercials with YouTube
  • Test and learn, test and learn
I wish you luck on your next marketing adventure!
Marketing Analytics

The New 4 A’s of Marketing: Analytics is the Glue

During my last post, I talked about the third new A of marketing, i.e., Appropriate. This week, I want to talk about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart: Analytic.

To recap, I believe the new four A’s of marketing is an approach that every marketer needs to adopt in order to overcome big-bang disruptions associated with new models, new technologies, and the new mindset of customers (see my previous posts on the New 4 A’s of Marketing).

In an article from HBR, entitled “The Ultimate Marketing Machine”, after ten thousand CMOs interviews, researchers discovered the following: 52% of high performing marketers leverage analytics for marketing effectiveness.

I can only assume they are also part of the 13% – that is, the 13% of marketers that are prepared to face big-bang disruption (see previous post). Perhaps unsurprising, Analytics is the quintessential glue that ties together the other A’s of new marketing.

Analytics is essential for Agility – how else can you make smart – indeed BETTER decisions?

It’s also critical for Accountability. In fact, analytics provide the very foundation for marketing attribution and measurement.

Appropriate (i.e., personalization and relevance) at scale is only possible with predictive analytics (propensity could be understood to be the likelihood for this message to be appropriate).

And yet, and YET Analytics seems hard. Scary. Expensive. Data-driven marketing is moving out of the back office into the boardroom. It is driving the best marketing – period. And it need not be expensive – start with specific business opportunities (or use analytics to identify where there is opportunity). Then plan, execute, measure and repeat.

At a recent Argyle conference, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion on how data is aiding marketers navigate the omni-channel landscape. Many of the marketers in the room were talking about how much time they spend rehashing data. What was concerning is that a large contingent expressed lack of clarity regarding what is important (analysis paralysis). The successful CMOs and other marketing executives were pointing to a need to clearly define measurement objectives and subsequently, marketing metrics and arrive at a decision quickly. Being Analytic is not just discovering, but it is deciding and doing too.

To sum it up: Be Analytic. Be a Hero.

Related Solution: Transform your Customer Marketing with Manthan's Customer Analytics Solution

Marketing Personalization

The New 4 A’s of Marketing: Personalization

Mass Marketing is So Over

Moving on to the third new A of marketing, namely, Appropriate. Last week we covered Accountability, including marketing measurement and attribution. After a couple of posts, you might get the feeling that I’m a Harvard Business Review junkie. I am. So multiple marketing offers for Martha Stewart Living magazine – do you think that would go over well? OK, back to Appropriate. In a previous post, I referenced an HBR article entitled ”Ultimate Marketing Machine”. This article invoked Share of Experience as the new Share of Wallet. This is very fitting, especially in a world where Chief Customer Experience Officers are proliferating. But what does this mean? How do you get Share of Experience? Being appropriate to your customer, segment, stage of purchase and channel are all critical pieces to solve the personalization puzzle. And unfortunately, these are moving pieces, which makes it a very complicated puzzle.

Pizza and Personalization

Is the ‘next best offer’ sufficient for personalizing an experience? Probably not. As marketers, we may think of getting to the next revenue-generating conversion, but we need to acknowledge that customers view their interactions with a company as a complete brand experience. This extends beyond purchase and next best offer. But let’s not boil the ocean. Marketers, you need to take the first step: start by personalizing an OFFER (and we have a personalization engine that does that!). Once you have personalized messages and offers running smoothly, move towards personalization of the EXPERIENCE. This includes a determination of what is appropriate for this individual customer. Some days it MAY be an offer and some days it might not be, it might be a new service or as (eye glasses maker who just sent a bar voucher to someone having a bad day) just did it might be an act of kindness. It might be a new way to wear something a customer already purchased. Think Zappos and Tony Tsieh’s pizza story. Everyday, my inbox is full of “personalized offers” but some are very clear that the marketers behind a brand don’t really know me. Today (really today) I received an offer from Hilton to check-in online and pick out my room when I get to Seattle tomorrow (awesome! I like quiet rooms far from the elevator) and an offer from a salad company that I LOVE to go to an event they are hosting in a state far away from me (now I feel sad that I cannot go). Now, I’ll be ‘Captain Obvious’: Technology is technology. Without technology, doing personalized offers at any scale is hard (or impossible). Yet, good technology does not guarantee that you will be Appropriate. A clear understanding of your customer and her (or his) needs is essential to success. Be Appropriate. Be a Hero. Next post, I’ll review the fourth and final new A of marketing: Analytic.
4 A's of Marketing

The New 4 A’s of Marketing: A Call for Accountability

Hold yourself accountable before someone else does

During my last post, I covered the first new A of marketing, Agility. Today’s post will cover the notion of Accountability.

Traditionally, marketing has been viewed as a cost center, rather than a revenue generating machine. And when called to account for their budgets and performance, the traditional marketer may have shrugged their shoulders.

Marketers of the world, gone are the days of shrugging your shoulders, repeating the famous John Wanamaker quote and laughing it off like you don’t have a care in the world. For those of you unfamiliar with the quote: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”

No disrespect to John Wanamaker. He did, after all, hire the first full-time copywriter in history! However, an increase in marketing budgets requires an increase in responsibility. My dear old-school marketer: your days are numbered. It’s time to make the CFO your new BFF. According to Gartner, leaders in marketing are securing larger budgets. Much of this is for digital marketing, but much of this spend will be allocated on marketing technologies. Consequently, the need prove value is ever increasing.

All Paths Point to Attribution

The marketing hero has the opportunity to demonstrate Accountability by measuring and reporting on her progress. By showing conversions. By proving revenue uplift. By justifying Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).

This is not an easy feat. Marketers have been discussing performance measurement, marketing metrics and attribution for years.

ROMI Means All Channels, Not One

New research from webmarketing123 and compiled by eMarketer blew me away: 38% of marketers do not leverage an attribution model. What?

Even more interesting: a majority of marketers that DO have an attribution model in place are only considering last touch, first touch, or first and last touch. The customer journey is not something that your average marketer has wrapped her arms (or head?) around today.

There may be a business or two out there that operate via a single channel. But I’m hard pressed to come up with one right now. So, marketers, if your customer is on a journey, multi-channel, omni-channel and digital, your measurement plan needs to be too. And you need to prove it works.

Cross-channel attribution is the best way to show your CFO that you are Accountable. That you know exactly the cost of customer acquisition (CAC). That you need X budget to achieve Y revenues. And then, impress him even more by exceeding those goals.

Be Accountable. Be a Hero.

Next time, I’ll cover the third A of new marketing: Appropriate.

Agile Marketing

The New 4 A’s of Marketing: A Focus on Agile Marketing

The 4 A’s of Marketing

During my last post, I mentioned the “big-bang disruption” coming down the pipe for marketers. I also promised to share with you the four A’s of marketing to create marketing heroes. In my mind, the four A’s will elevate the marketer to the upper echelon of high-performance marketers (the 13%) that can take action to address disruptions and achieving measurable results (For more information on the 13%, please reference McKinsey and ANA’s recent report on Marketing 2020).

Agile Marketing

The first new A of marketing is AGILITY. Disruption is here to stay, so you better get comfortable. Marketers can make disruption work by architecting teams for agility. Strict organizational structures are so “last year”. Need someone to figure out Instagram? Get that new kid in finance to help out. To get agile, HBR discusses the Ultimate Marketing Machine and the notion of SWAT teams. Marketers, you should create a culture of SWAT teams to help with mission-critical customer needs. Surround yourself with agile players – hold your team accountable to CHANGE. Any team member that relies on the age-old “we’ve always done it this way” should probably get re-trained or hit the road. Marketers, you can experiment (and measure) with your own team. For instance, what percent of your time or your team’s time is set aside in a week a day or a month to experiment? Is your schedule just what is in your Outlook calendar or do you actually plan fluid sessions for creative knowledge share and attempting something new? If it’s the former, it’s time to prioritize Agility. Finally, it’s time to commit to anticipating and planning for future disruptions. For instance, take a moment to contemplate what 3D printing will do to your business? What about your marketing tactics? A consultant I recently met with was talking about 3D printing everything you need (food, do it yourself items, and clothes). After my mind melted, I started to wonder how the mass adoption of 3D printing would impact my world. I wouldn’t have to order tickets for my next trade show. Better yet, I could get my kids a Lego blueprint for the holidays next year. I can go on and on about Agile Marketing. But the first step to Agility is seeing the disruption. Make sure you set aside some time to look out at the horizon. Be Agile. Be a Hero. Next time, I’ll cover the second A of new marketing: Accountability.
Top Marketers

Marketers: How to Be in the Top 13%

Marketing, Interrupted

We’ve been living in a world of disruption and just when you feel like you’ve figured it out, all the cool Facebook kids go to Instagram. By the time your marketing strategy gets there, you will once again be out of date. If this sounds familiar, and you are finding it hard (impossible?) to keep pace with the changing marketing landscape, you aren’t alone. This brings to mind a quote that I ran across in Harvard Business Review some time ago: You can’t see big-bang disruption coming. You can’t stop it. You can’t overcome it. Old-style disruption posed the innovator’s dilemma. Big-bang disruption is the innovator’s disaster. And it will be keeping executives in every industry in a cold sweat for a long time to come.

Finding Your Marketing Stride

According to HBR’s report on the Ultimate Marketing Machine, there are five drivers of marketing effectiveness: 1. Connecting marketing to business strategy and organization 2. Inspiring others with brand purpose 3. Focusing 4. Becoming agile 5. Building the right capabilities for the future OK, so marketers have a roadmap. Yet, according to a recent McKinsey / ANA report entitled “Marketing 2020”, only 13% of marketers are taking action to address disruptions and achieving measurable results. THIRTEEN PERCENT. Chances are you aren’t in the 13%.

Call to Action: Marketers, It’s Your Turn To Take The Wheel

Marketing has the rare opportunity to be a HERO to meet disruption with a plan and execute to capture new opportunity with measurable results. Don’t squander your chance. Over the next several weeks, I will outline the four new A’s of marketing that will create marketing heroes (marketers, put your P’s away). Be in the 13%. Be a Hero.