Final Spec for Digital Data Collection published by W3C CG — Plug & Play is here

As I was setting up holiday lights around my house this weekend I was plugging one string of lights into the next to go around the length of the roof. That made me think: how complicated would this be if every cable had a different kind of power plug, i.e. if there wasn’t a standard socket/plug for connecting cables from different vendors. You would have needed to run a separate power cable from the main socket to each set of lights instead of simply connecting the various cable strings with each other.

Bringing to digital data what standard power plugs/socket brought to electricity

Sounds crazy?

But that is exactly just as much unnecessary overhead and friction there has been in digital until today.  Namely, each digital marketing solution has had its own data collection JavaScript tag language and defines terms differently as to what constitutes a visitor, a page, an event, a conversion, shopping cart activity, or transactions. So, marketers and digital channel managers have had to implement a new set of tags on their site from scratch every single time they wanted to add another technology service. Plus they needed to translate events on their site into a new tag language every time.

Wouldn’t it be much more sensible if all of the digital marketing solutions could plug into a common set of data elements?

Final spec of Digital Data Layer now published at the W3C

IBM, in collaboration with 50+ other digital leaders such as Google, Adobe, tag management vendors, etc, has chaired an initiative to establish a new digital marketing industry standard for streamlined digital data management within a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) community group.  This community of industry leaders has now approved the final Customer Experience Digital Data Layer specification which rallies the industry around a single data model for tag data collection.

The value to marketers is accelerated on-boarding of new, relevant services, reduced IT burden in managing existing services, and superior and consistent site performance.

As vendors in the industry adopt this new standard, marketers will be able to take advantage of a single tag language used across all participating digital marketing services, saving time and money during implementation.

 

Voices in the industry commenting on the uniform data layer and its value

 

Sri Viswanath, IBM’s chair of the W3C Customer Experience Community Group

As the chair of the W3C Community Group, IBM’s Sri Viswanath had posted his perspective on this blog earlier in the year. Therefore, let me share below voices from other digital thought leaders and practitioners.

Eric Peterson, Web Analytics Demystified

Eric Peterson reviews the practical value of the W3C final specification on the Web Analytics Demystified blog in the light of a “coming of age” of tag management vendors. Meaning, in my opinion, that instead of competing on the commodity aspects of tag management data, vendors will now compete on the merits of what they enable businesses to do with that data. For example, how are the solutions helping their customers exchange digital data with a network of Digital Marketing solution providers in order to infuse these with real time intelligence on customer behavior?

“At Web Analytics Demystified we are excited to start leveraging this document in our client work and are looking forward to years of growth in the TMS sector.” and “those companies leveraging the W3C work will essentially enable a ‘plug and play’ environment”

 

Oliver Schiffers, Head of Marketing Strategy & Analysis for Continental Europe at SapientNitro

Let’s go across the pond next, literally, and hear from one of the captains of web analytics that has guided and shepherded use of intelligence towards better digital marketing decisions over the past decade.  Oliver Schiffers has been known for his web analytics leadership at SapientNitro for many years. Way back in 2001 he has been one of the NetGenesis crowd, so he has experienced the issues from both vendor and consulting perspectives.

“I see tremendous value in the data layer on top of the value Tag Management Systems (TMS) already provide. What was missing was still a consistent way of providing custom and dynamics values to the TMS.

Also, to be able to set a clear standard and orientation for agencies and site producers how to catch events is beneficial to both the developers as well as the analyst responsible for tagging.

When mentioning the standard, I was able to immediately gain trust within clients I am working for, because this is a W3C standard, the value is easily digestible, and it is still open for custom amendments. “

I love that endorsement that a common language helps each of the constituents in the process.

 

Todd Belcher, Digital Analytics Manager (Consultant) at Putnam Investments

Let’s ask a practitioner on the digital analytics side of things next. Todd Belcher is a veteran in the analytics industry with many years under his belt and working with many websites. Today, he is Digital Analytics Manager (Consultant) at Putnam Investments and shares his perspective:

“I believe organizations working with multiple digital marketing and analytics technologies, and the digital analytics community as a whole will benefit as a result of migrations toward this standard.  By adopting this standard, organizations’ web, application, and marketing/analytics teams are adopting a common language and process for surfacing data to digital marketing/analytics technologies. Ownership of creating this common language and process does not fall on the organization. It has already been done. “

Similar to Oliver maybe, Todd also stresses another benefit, namely helping organizations communicate unambiguously internally and with their digital marketing or analytics technology vendors:

“That internal communications efficiency must not be overlooked: when interfacing with digital marketing / analytics technology vendors, having a data layer in place promises potential ‘turn key’ implementations. It provides a common language and process… but not only for use by the organization, also for the organization to communicate with its vendors”.

Lee Isensee, Director Solutions Engineering and Product Strategy at Localytics

Let’s move to mobile next and ask Lee Isensee at Localytics. Lee has been a pillar of this industry for more than a decade and worked through countless implementations of digital data collection tags with customers. That direct hands-on experience informs the value he sees in removing spaghetti coding pains, i.e. not needing to translate multiple languages into each other!

“I would stress the ease of leveraging the data in a format that is universally understood without having to create extensive, and potentially convoluted, custom parsing solutions that have weighed the market down. The uniformity of the data also provides transparency to how each vendor works with the customer’s information.”

Aurelie Pols, Mind Your Privacy

Aurelie focused more on that last point. Specializing with her firm in the area of data and consumer privacy, Aurelie reviews the potentials of the new data collection specification from that specific angle.  Here, the potential of the new data layer specification is that a commonly agreed standard of what each data element means, can also lead to more precise opt-in or opt-out mechanisms.

“I hope it will gain traction. Yet it remains a technology perspective of the Privacy problem. .  As with anything in our industry, this is related to tools but certainly there is more to it, e.g. people and processes.

Therefore, when it comes to Privacy, this should clearly be part of a larger thought process, hopefully inducing Privacy by Design ways of thinking. Hopefully it will not be seen as the only solution to adopt when tackling this evolving issue.

My second stance is one related to adoption for privacy related goals, e.g. in the light of the earlier privacy project at the W3C: Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) that was suspended back in 2007. Through my career, I’ve had requests related to P3P but with no real drive to take into consideration these guidelines. Adoption remained low and was merely seen as a hassle, imposed by General Council if not just some enlightened Privacy defender(s).  The question of adoption of the new standard for privacy purposes remains therefore open.

From the angle of data privacy, the final specification is helpful but not enough by itself, as Aurelie points out. More remains to be done for that angle.

Next steps for the adoption of the W3C Digital Data Layer Final Specification

IBM and many of the participating vendors are eager to adopt the final specification into our digital marketing and analytics solutions and implementations have already begun in some cases.

For example, David Henderson at Triggered Messaging Ltd has been implementing against the final report at his firm and is sharing his experience on the W3C Wiki. Meanwhile, users of IBM Digital Data Exchange can already today map to the uniform Digital Data Layer in order to have it feed IBM’s solutions for digital Marketing, analytics, customer experience management, and omni channel marketing.

What’s your next step?

How are you going to adopt the standard for your site, products, or customers? Download and read the final specification for the Customer Experience Digital Data Layer today!

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This was cross posted from smartercommerceblog.com/digitalmarketing/

The central role of digital channels in the Omni-channel world

The original version of the chart below was created by Kevin Cavanaugh back in Unica days (Kevin’s now CTO at Allant Group). Still to date it’s one of the most popular pieces of thought leadership content I carry around with me on my USB drive everywhere I go. Folks in the audience often take pictures of this during presentations.

What it shows is that customers engage with our companies through so many channels and that some of these channels are more likely to be used during certain times in the customer lifecycle. For example, after learning about a brand via mass media commercials a prospect might grab their tablet to learn more about the product and then ultimately call the call center to ask further questions and sign up or purchase.

Channels of interaction over course of the Lifecycle

Channels of interaction over course of customer life cycle

Yet, over the years there has been a dramatic change. Kevin originally created this chart to visualize how critical it is to integrate online and offline channels for successful customer strategies. That is also how the chart was introduced in my book in 2008.

But today when you look at the chart you see an expanded number of digital channels at the heart of it. Digital is slowly taking over the chart. And the #1 take away from the chart today isn’t the online-offline integration anymore.

Rather, it’s that digital channels in themselves are an Omni-channel world ranging from website to tablet, phone, email, ad networks, social media networks, etc. Many of the most successful digital marketers today tie these digital channels together for continuous customer engagement. When a customer drops off from one channel, they continue the dialog with the customer on the next channel that he or she comes back on. That is assuming that the customer has at some point authenticated on each channel or device so he or she can be identified again.

Optimizing each of the channels and devices is bread & butter. But optimizing how they play together — that’s the Nutella on top.

One fun anecdote is that back when Kevin first created this chart we had question marks for the role of mobile in the customer lifecycle because the smartest phone around was still the Blackberry back then. It wasn’t clear at all back then how mobile would be used in the customer life cycle. Boy have we come a long way since then. Mobile is everywhere now.

Digital marketing lessons learned from IBM’s annual customer conference

IBM’s Smarter Commerce Global Summit Nashville just completed May 21-23. Hundreds of speakers shared their best practices and lessons learned.

What were some of the key takeaways for digital marketers and analysts? Surprise lessons? The hot trends of the times?

I asked a few of the digital marketing thought leaders that were in attendance. Here is what they observed.

Bryan Eisenberg – Author and “Use the Data” Expert

The biggest takeaway for me was how one of the large department store customers of IBM’s has expanded their use of data and integrated analytics across the physical and digital channels. It was great to see how stores can begin to leverage the insights that the online team has and vice versa to create better experiences cross-channel for their customers.

Sameer Khan, Rackspace Senior Digital Marketing Manager and Blogger at Keywebmetrics.com

My biggest takeaway was how IBM is making cross-channel marketing a reality with its marketing solutions. It also was interesting to learn about the cutting edge digital personalization campaigns possible using Tealeaf’s revolutionary behavioral analytics. Last but not least, the transformation of marketing attribution to statistically-significant outcomes leads us one step closer to real time budgeting by knowing which efforts truly deserve credit for downstream sales.

Mike Niemann, IBM Digital Marketing Optimization, Product Management

The predominance of omni-channel as not just a buzzword but a concept that many are really beginning to embrace and tackle was something I saw again and again. Moving from the concept of multi-channel, where the emphasis was more focused on simply getting a brand’s presence extended to various new and emerging channels, toward omni-channel, where a true understanding of customer experiences across mobile devices, interaction channels, and social networks, can really begin to allow marketers to offer a consistent and personalized experience. The business goal is to get to marketing that feels like a service, i.e. is a “youtility” as keynote speaker Jay Baer put it.

Chris Hogan’s quote from Margaret Getchell (one of, if not the, first women executives in retail) from back in the late 1800′s really stands out as being totally relevant in the digital age we live in today: “Be everywhere, do everything, and never fail to astonish the customer”

Bill Bruno, CEO, Stratigent

My #1 take away from the event is that IBM is very focused on building a product suite that truly is integrated and that can provide incredible power to the marketers looking to build customized and unique experiences for their customers. If you think further about how the capabilities from IBM Watson can expand the possibilities, you’re talking about a game-changing ability to make sense of data to identify key personas/segments for optimization efforts.

Aubrey Rupp, IBM Digital Marketing Optimization, Product Management

Own the customer experience. We need to stop thinking about digital and physical as two separate things and capitalize on the magic that happens when we can combine them. We can use this knowledge to maximize the moments with customers, creating a personal experience for each customer and treat them as the unique individuals that they are.

“Sri” Viswanath Srikanth, IBM Standards and chair of the W3C Customer Experience Digital Data Community Group

My top takeaways were that enterprise marketers are continuing to look for ease of use for their solutions, best-of-breed technologies (as opposed to becoming a single vendor or single platform house), are intrigued by the possibilities around open technologies (open source/open standards), and continue to see a convergence of mobile, social, cloud and analytics worlds impacting their space.

Blair Reeves, IBM Digital Marketing Optimization, Product Marketing Management

The emphasis has shifted from channel-specific, or even context-specific, strategies to a broader view – the omni-channel view. Or, in other words, we are going “from digital marketing to customer intelligence.” I think the term “customer intelligence” really captures what we mean by both omni-channel and Smarter Commerce – connected customers engaging via channels they choose, and expecting a compelling experience.

Leah Paschall, IBM Digital Marketing Optimization, Product Marketing Management

I couldn’t say it any better than the journalists at Forbes who described the biggest challenges facing marketers in a recent article. The article is based on the recent IBM State of Marketing 2013 survey of which a sneak preview was shared with customers in Nashville.

Michelle Kiss and John Lovett, Web Analytics Demystified

And finally, this Blogger

What do all the brilliant digital marketers and analysts that I got a chance to learn about in Nashville have in common, for example Chris HoganEric HooverEwald HoppenInna DrutLisa LanganJennifer StinchcombMichael LaHueNancy FlintSameer KhanVenkata Duvvuri? When they speak, you hear the love for data in their voices. You hear the passion of turning data into better customer experiences. It reminds me of how the owner of a small corner store truly wants to take care of his or her customers and make them better off while looking out for business at the same time.

 

This article is cross posted from the Smarter Commerce blog.

Announcing Speakers at IBM’s 2013 USA Customer Summit, May 21-23

Moneyball Meets Marketing: How the best-in-class actually use big data to increase digital marketing results

The movie Moneyball isn’t really about baseball. It’s not even about statistics. It’s about the way data can be used to challenge conventional wisdom, and its something those of us in the field of marketing metrics have known for a long time. And yet, too many businesses are missing out—for example they know that there’s a lot of buzz around big data, but instead of seizing the opportunity they ignore it.

That is to say almost all use data for creating nice dashboards by now, i.e. small data.

But many aren’t yet using the underlying big data and analytics to make the transition from one-size-fits-all marketing to behavior-based, personalized marketing programs. That is despite the fact that both marketers and customers stand to gain when interactions are more relevant, helpful, and real-time.

Why is it that many marketers aren’t yet taking advantage of big data analytics, especially in digital channels that are a natural fit, such as the web, mobile and social media? An answer to this question (and many more) is to be found in the results of the 2013 Big Data for Marketing survey from Trip Kucera, at the Aberdeen Group. Here’s what they found:

  1. There’s too much information in too many places: 35% of organizations say that integrating multiple data sources is a challenge.
  2. They don’t understand the benefits: 30% are having a hard time understanding how marketing analytics could be used in their companies.
  3. They lack the talent: 30% are having problems finding the right people with the right kind of knowledge of marketing analytics.

So what’s keeping your organization from leveraging big data in your marketing?  I’ll be taking part in a webcast featuring more results from the survey, along with Trip Kucera and Graeme Noseworthy, Big Data for Marketing, Media & Entertainment. Register for the webcast to join us and find out how the best in class in the survey incorporate data analytics into marketing programs—and how you can, too.

 

Prefer SaaS or On-Premises for your digital analytics and marketing technology solutions?

What deployment model should marketers prefer for their digital analytics and other marketing software technology solutions that support their efforts? Should they pick:

  • Cloud based solutions i.e. Software as a Service (SaaS)?
  • Ground based solutions for on-premises deployment?
  • or hybrid models that combine the two options?,

Of course, the answer is “it depends”.

So the guest blog post on  the Smarter Commerce blog has my two most important pieces of advice on how to explore SaaS vs. On Premises when you choose between them for your company. This was posted on the occasion of the recent IBM Marketing Center product release. That one is a cloud based product which prompted this question on deployment models.

Link to the post

Announced today: IBM Marketing Center

IBM today announced the new IBM Marketing Center — an all-in-one solution that combines digital analytics data with real-time marketing execution. Marketing Center provides A/B testing, website personalization, email marketing, and more.

For more information and to download the data sheet see the product’s web page at ibm.com/marketing-solutions.

What I find most exciting here is that digital analytics and marketing are glued together in a single application: i.e. there is no room for a chasm between analytics and action anymore!

Strategic Roadmap for Digital Marketing in 2011: eBook for Marketing Execs

15 authors, 15 articles. Free, yet with priceless insights.

Learn from marketing thought leaders how to engage with customers and create value for stakeholders in a complex digital world. Covers digital channels, marketing techniques, accountability and technology. Truly a must-read resource for every CMO!

One-click Download from CustomerThink.com (no registration required)

With many thanks to our producer, publisher, and my co-editor, Bob Thompson at DigitalMarketingOne.com and CustomerThink.com

And, of course, all my gratitude to our 15 authors, bloggers, consultants whose insights into digital marketing strategy make up this ebook.

Together, we set out to puzzle together the silo’d niches of digital marketing into one coherent strategic roadmap. The resulting strategy advice could maybe be summarized as follows (and I hope I am doing justice to all my co-authors):

  1. Derive digital strategy from your overall marketing mission and the role that you want digital to play in it
  2. Pay attention to the special nuances of each digital channel but also fuse the channels together into a cross-channel approach
  3. Do the opportunity with digital marketing justice by making appropriate use of its biggest strength: intelligent interactivity
  4. Consider the additional contribution that digital channels and analytics can have on your online-offline customer sales and marketing programs
  5. Get more of what you want (e.g. revenue, budget, etc.) by investing in marketing accountability and ROI optimization
  6. Derive technology strategy from your overall digital strategy

 

 

News today: IBM announced the new IBM Coremetrics Digital Marketing Optimization Suite

The following is cross-posted from the original at the IBM Unica blog.

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Exciting news for our IBM Unica NetInsight OnDemand customers and really all marketers: IBM today announced the new IBM Digital Marketing Optimization Suite which accomplishes three great “coming-togethers”. Namely, the following:

1. Combines the Best of IBM Coremetrics and IBM Unica NetInsight OnDemand

Since IBM’s acquisition of Coremetrics and Unica our web analytics teams have been merged together like a deck of cards to make the best use of the combined development and best practices expertise. Our combined team now takes care of both IBM’s on demand and on-premises offerings and customers for web analytics.

And as previous competitors, it was much to my surprise that we had been very like minded in the decade leading up to this merger. Both Unica and Coremetrics had been working in parallel to make sure web analytics delivered not just reports for optimization but also provided individual customer insights for refining relevancy of marketing messages.

2. Fuses together: Customer Profiles, Analytics, and Digital Marketing Execution

The next great coming together I see for our customers in the IBM Coremetrics Digital Marketing Optimization Suite is the tight integration between LIVE Profiles, Web Analytics, and the IBM Coremetrics Digital Marketing Applications such as IBM Coremetrics LIVEmail and IBM Coremetrics Intelligent Offer. This tight integration is the secret sauce that enables our users to execute more relevant digital marketing campaigns driven by analytics. The IBM Coremetrics suite inherits this product design from the Coremetrics side where this combo had been available for years while other vendors were merely talking about it in Powerpoint presentations.

3. Adds a More Flexible and Open Data Architecture for Multichannel Analytics

Now, like D’Artagnan teaming up with the three musketeers, the new IBM Coremetrics Suite adds increased flexibility and openness to the trio of LIVE Profiles, analytics, and digital marketing applications. This is being achieved thanks to experience and technology assets coming from Unica NetInsight OnDemand. And it is a true 1+1 = 3 situation. Not only can marketers extend their analytical lens by combining online and offline insights (using the new IBM Coremetrics Multichannel Analytics add-on), but now they can also target digital marketing execution programs, e.g. through IBM Coremetrics LIVEmail, using the cross-channel picture of an individual’s interests.

The Result: Two Great Growth Paths for our Customers

All marketers have web metrics available to them. Competing on analytics requires us to be cleverer with our use of analytics than the next marketer.

Technology needs to be our “power arm” that helps get things done quickly that would be very tedious, expensive, and time consuming otherwise. The new IBM Coremetrics Digital Marketing Optimization Suite provides IBM customers with a “power arm” that helps them go beyond commodity web metrics and move towards digital analytics where discovering new opportunities with segments or individual prospects and customers means more strategic opportunities.

Our customers also have another growth path to go from analytics to digital marketing execution, and from there to integrations with their enterprise (e.g. to their Netezza data warehouse or their IBM Unica Enterprise Marketing Management system), and with the rest of their digital marketing eco-system, e.g. through the eco-systems of IBM Coremetrics LIVEmail (i.e. Email service providers), and IBM Coremetrics AdTarget (i.e. display ad networks).

Now the ball is in your court. How are you going to put all these multichannel analytics and digital marketing opportunities into the race for beating out your competition?

For Our Customers …

Existing NetInsight OnDemand and Coremetrics customers, please keep your eyes peeled for further information by email. Please register for the upcoming customer-only launch webinars. There is no requirement to move to the combined solution immediately. IBM plans on continuing support of the existing Unica NetInsight OnDemand and Coremetrics versions into the future, accompanied by the same industry leading service and support you have come to expect. IBM believes there are compelling components in the combined release that are meaningful and important to your business. In the launch webinars, you will learn about all the great business benefits that our Unica NetInsight OnDemand customers that upgrade will have available. For example, all customers can use their current and new release in parallel during their upgrade process.

For More Information …

Please keep an eye on Unica.com and Coremetrics.com as we will progressively publish more details in the next 10 days of about the new capabilities that our customers can expect. For now, see:

 

 

RPM, Revenue Performance Management: Will the Term Stick? By Lauren Carlson

Earlier on this blog I referenced an article by Steve Woods  from Eloqua on RPM, Revenue Performance Management. RPM is a relatively new term in the area of demand marketing optimization. Will it stick? As I was writing earlier, there seem to be so many terms already that describe B2B marketing automation. Why another one?

Lauren Carlson wrote a post on that topic is a good read.

So will it stick?

I like of course the idea of scientific, analytics driven, revenue optimization.

But I fear that the term is at risk because it is so broad.

Not marketing optimization

not customer optimization

but total revenue optimization.

So everybody is responsible for RPM, and if everybody is responsible the danger is that nobody takes responsibility.