Dear Brands, You Really Can’t Live Without a Marketing Stack

Marketing Cloud

In today’s world of digital marketing, the presence of a unified stack for managing your marketing plan is essential. In the past, interaction with a company’s brand was experienced as a series of disparate, unrelated interactions as opposed to a single, unified experience across all channels. In this type of scenario, improvements to the overall brand experience were conducted in a one-off type of manner, where marketers focused on fixing a single transactional element of the customer’s overall experience. However, it is no longer sufficient to focus solely on individual pieces of your audience’s experience, as consumers today expect a much more personalized set of interactions.

Five Reasons Your Business Should Not Operate Without a Marketing Stack

Today, digital marketers want to move away from the transactional experience and develop more ongoing relationships with their customers. Therefore, businesses need to look beyond the standard point solution and begin creating a unified marketing stack. With the marketing stack, you can treat any individual transaction as a part of that ongoing relationship with the customer. In this type of scenario, you are measuring every part of the purchase cycle — pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase — in an effort to better understand how each contributed to the overall experience. Ultimately, the goal is to continuously refine different pieces of the purchase cycle, effectively improving the experience or relationship overall. Each block of the marketing cloud is working to make some part of that whole experience better.

Allows the Creation of Data as a Common Currency

Aside from the holistic view of developing ongoing relationships with customers and improving their overall experiences, there are five main benefits for an organization to implement a marketing stack. The first of these is to create data as a common currency among different areas of the organization. Many businesses have numerous departments that each oversees specific parts of the marketing function such as social media, online, in-store, and more. Oftentimes, these different sections of the organization are in conflict; a strategy that works for one channel does not necessarily work for another. Having a common view of the overall activity allows for a deeper understanding of the differences as well as the similarities that specific content and experiences have for the customer. In the end, data is king and provides concrete evidence of which strategies are successful in terms of conversion and building the customer relationship.

Ends Political Dissent

A second benefit of implementing the stack is the demise of political dissent within the organization. The concept of data as common currency can be used to dispel failing strategies that previously may have been sustained by success within a single silo of the organization but might conflict with the overall goal of building the customer relationship. Oftentimes, this type of siloed advertising strategy can be detrimental to the overall brand and result in the loss of audience due to non-unified brand experience across different channels. Using data as a way to provide a clear vision for how customers want to interact with your content is a key benefit of implementing the stack.

Improves Campaign Orchestration

A third benefit involves enhanced capabilities for orchestrating marketing campaigns. In the past, a business would use different products for planning marketing content and experiences for each individual channel, resulting in a non-unified experience across channels. It also required an inordinate amount of time to gather analysis from each channel and even more time to combine all of the data into a single overall view of the brand.  With a unified marketing stack, you can directly coordinate an entire campaign from one platform, which simplifies the overall process and creates enormous benefits in terms of time and resources needed to organize a successful campaign.

Offers Real-Time Campaign Corrections

This leads us to our fourth benefit: the ability to make rapid changes to the campaign. The analysis afforded by a unified stack takes all of the data from across multiple channels and gives the business real-time information about how specific content is working for specific sub-segments of the audience. It also allows you to change content across all channels to ensure you are being proactive with how you are running your campaign. Without a unified stack, none of this is possible.

Enables the Successful Management of Media-Mix Modeling

The final benefit afforded by the unified stack is the ability to truly conduct media-mix modeling. This involves being able to project sales and conversions accurately based on the historical data analysis achieved from the unified platform. Each piece of the platform provides a vital piece of the puzzle to help you truly understand what content works for specific segments of your audience, and analytics built into the platform allow you to look forward and proactively provide the right content to the right customer at exactly the right time. The platform can take in unrelated information — such as local weather — and then use this abstract data to push appropriate content to users, creating a truly unified experience across the brand as well as developing the customer relationship and loyalty.


In the End, Businesses Simply Cannot Afford NOT to Have a Marketing Stack

Without a unified platform, a business is left to attempt to put all of these pieces of the puzzle together manually, and without the data as common currency, there is often political infighting that further hampers the ability to orchestrate and execute a successful marketing campaign. The introduction of the platform dispels these roadblocks and creates an environment where both the customer and the business are getting what they want out of their exchanges with each other, all while reducing the time and resources needed to develop and manage the interactions across a myriad of marketing channels.

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Which is More Important: Cross-Channel or Cross-Device Attribution?

Marketing Cloud

Today’s marketers have more tools available to them than ever before. But even with the recent boom in available solutions, it can be difficult to truly understand which marketing activities are driving the most value for your brand. The proliferation of multiple connected devices per user is making it harder to connect the dots from an attribution standpoint. The reality is that the proliferation of online devices has caused once trustable metrics to be misleading—specifically simple metrics that are learned on the first day of any marketer’s career, like reach and frequency, for example. Marketing attribution models allow you to see which campaigns and assets are the most successful, but what type of attribution is more important: cross-device attribution or cross-channel attribution?

Without a doubt, both types of attribution are extremely important. Cross-device attribution is a necessary part of cross-channel attribution for one core reason—understanding that multiple touch points are actually the same person enriches your data. More accurately, it gives you a clearer picture of your marketing data. With these two tracking mechanisms so closely intertwined, how do you prioritize them?

Cross-Channel Attribution vs. Cross-Device Attribution: What’s the Difference?

Perhaps it is best to begin by truly understanding the differences between these two topics. Cross-channel attribution yields understanding of which banner ads, search results, and email campaigns are the most effective, assuming that users could have been exposed to touch points across all of them. Cross-device attribution is an opportunity to drill down to understand the experiences of each individual user across devices. Both start with cookie-level data, but cross-device attribution is about enhancing the cookie-level data to reveal that a single user is actually represented across multiple cookies. Cross-device attribution is a necessary part of cross-channel attribution for one core reason—understanding that multiple touch points are actually the same person enriches your data. More accurately, it gives you a clearer picture of your marketing data.

Inherently, cross-device attribution is a subset of cross-channel attribution. Once you understand how certain campaigns are performing, it is natural to want to understand how many times an individual was touched by each campaign or even by multiple campaigns. To understand that level of detail, you must be able to track a user’s behavior across desktop, mobile, and tablet activity.

The Rise of Cross-Device Attribution

In the past, only one true delivery platform existed: the desktop computer. So, when your campaign had a reach of 100 users, you could assume that 100or nearly 100unique users had been exposed. That is simply not the case in today’s world. In the past decade alone, we have seen the number of smartphones and tablets increase exponentially. Now, users may see the same message multiple times on multiple devices across many different marketing channels. In turn, this may prompt them to visit a company’s website or make a purchase on a different device from the one in which they viewed the campaign. In the grand scheme of things, this level of complexity (and opportunity) did not exist until recently.

This result is a disconnect between our once-relevant industry terminology and the accuracy of what those terms mean today. A user with two devices can appear to be two unique users in our datasets. As marketers, we need to shift our focus to thinking about people and devices when we evaluate our data. Eventually, we will see the term “unique users” as a misleading and antiquated term. Achieving cross-channel attribution with consideration to cross-device data is predicated on understanding the metrics of “users” and “devices.” They are no longer synonymous.

The Future of Attribution

Currently, marketers are trying to gain a complete picture of how customers reach their buying decisions. To do this, they need to use cross-channel and cross-device attribution in concert. In fact, they need to take it one step further and also use a process called “data stitching.” Data stitching can be a time-consuming process and also directionally accurate if the probabilistic method is used by itself. Since most reporting tools traditionally use a cookie to track user behavior, and many mobile devices do not support cookies, marketers run into quite a few problems with this process. Brands are still struggling to gain a full understanding of this new type of reporting.

That is why the rise of the data-management platform (DMP) is so intriguing. Once brands can more effectively gather more first-party deterministic cross-device data and compile it in a DMP, the better they will be able to execute their marketing activities with more intelligence and relevant targeting aided by building device graphs. In turn, this allows them to build personalized campaigns that use a system of sequential messaging to move customers through the sales funnel, for example. E-commerce sites are starting to get a handle on this already by using unique user-generated IDs to identify users and track activity across devices. We can expect this marketing technique to continue to mature over the next few years and be picked up by other industries as well.

Deterministically being able to message to a single user, knowingly, across two devices is an extremely rich targeting benefit, which also has the potential to be a better experience for the end user, not just the marketer. And flagging the data in that way is of the highest value. Understanding that a user’s journey to purchase included three digital channels is a huge step forward. But understanding that a user’s journey to purchase included media touch points across five different connected devices on three different channels before he eventually purchased with a desktop is a giant step forward to enhance our attribution. Attribution works best when the most granular level in your data is rich. Understanding that Person 123 has devices A, B, C, and D is paramount.

Ultimately, both cross-channel and cross-device reporting are crucial to your data-driven marketing strategy. While at a macro level, cross-channel data has a number of implications that can be turned into actionable items now, being prepared to drill down into cross-device data will allow you to better attribute each channel’s contribution to your business and target your customers in ways that render insightful, not misleading data in your attribution. Once again, we see a plethora of opportunity on the marketing front that brands will not be able to take action on if their data is not in order.

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How to Make “Surprise and Delight” a High-Performance Customer Experience Strategy

Marketing Cloud

The introduction of the Internet in 1991 led to an unprecedented shift in marketing practices. No longer were telephone calls and postal mail the only ways to market. Personal email addresses, which had previously been limited to students and employees, were now available for free to anyone. This opened the door to mass email marketing and by the mid-1990’s inboxes were cluttered with millions of unsolicited marketing emails.  

Today, customers of every business are demanding more personal, customized web experiences, especially on mobile devices. By the end of 2015, the number of Smartphone users will surpass 3 billion worldwide and they are changing the way people think about communication, engagement, and commerce. Over 90 percent of smartphone owners expect stores and businesses of all kinds to provide important services via apps now or they will consider taking their business elsewhere.

With all the advances in technology, one thing hasn’t changed when it comes to marketing you have to approach your customer with something memorable that will make you stand out from your competitors. And few things are more memorable than getting a surprise from a brand you love that creates a feeling of delight.

Surprises Matter

Earlier this year, researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, confirmed what we have always known: we love surprises. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain activity in response to pleasurable stimuli, the researchers found that the nucleus accumbens a region known as the brain’s pleasure center responded much more strongly when the event was unanticipated.

“What this means is that the part of the brain that has always been associated with pure pleasure really cares about when you get something unexpected,” said study lead Dr. Gregory Berns, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Emory. “So if you get a present for your birthday, that’s nice. But you’ll like it a lot more if you get a present and it’s not your birthday.”

“The region lights up like a Christmas tree on the MRI,” said study co-author Dr. P. Read Montague, an associate professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “That suggests people are designed to crave the unexpected.” The findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Smart marketers have always known this and the “surprise and delight” strategy is being talked about more and more as it becomes clear that most transactions today involve devices, usually mobile devices, and it takes more effort to stand out among the vast array of digital experiences available.

A Human Solution Matters

The emphasis on email marketing, website visits, conversion rates and concerns about return on investment (ROI), may have created an over dependence on analytical solutions to what is a very human idea. If you want someone to be loyal to your business, brand and product, you must do things that instill trust, confidence, value, and that demonstrates that there are still humans behind all the digital solutions.

Consistency Matters

The first order of business is to be sure you have a digital experience that matches your customers’ expectations. While older folks developed the ability to be patient at an early age, we now have generations of people who have grown up not having to wait for anything. Studies have shown that a 10-second wait for a web page to load will lose you 50 percent of consumers, and researchers discovered that a website begins losing traffic to competitors when it takes more than 250 milliseconds longer to load!

Next, you need consistency throughout the touchpoints where customers interact. For example, no one likes to navigate through a complex call center phone menu, entering account numbers and answering automated questions about what the problem is, only to be told by the person who finally takes the call that they don’t have any of the information just entered.

And how many chat sessions have you endured only to find out that they can do little more for you than give you the customer service phone number?

Visual consistency is important today as well. The look and feel of all your digital channels should have a feeling of consistency and it has been shown that potential customers convert at a higher rate if an organization seems to have its digital visual act together.

But surprises take the prize for delighting your customer and instill loyalty and the desire to share their experience. Lots of examples exist of how companies have surprised and delighted customers. You may have heard about what Kleenex did to show they take seriously the connection they have to making people feel better. They examined Facebook posts and found status messages from people who said they were sick. Kleenex contacted their friends and was able to get the addresses for 50 people. Within two hours, they prepared elaborate kits with Kleenex products and delivered them along with their best wishes. Every recipient photographed their kit and posted it on Facebook, resulting in over 650,000 impressions, 1500 interactions, and to date, over 76,900 views of their video.

You can see more examples of high profile surprise-and-delight campaigns at the Vmob website.

You Don’t Have to be an Enterprise-Level Business to Surprise and Delight Your Customers

  • Did you realize that waiters who left two free mints with the check get a 21 percent better tip? Surprise your customers with a simple freebie at times during the year NOT associated with a holiday or other promotion.
  • Send thank you notes preferably hand-written to new customers. People who got handwritten thank you notes from an auto mechanic in Ohio said they would never use another mechanic in their life because of that note.
  • Check in with customers. If someone buys a beginner set of whatever, check in to see how they are doing and if they need any help.
  • Anticipate a customer’s needs. If a customer buys a product that suggests they need it fast because they are going on a trip, offer to pay to upgrade to a faster shipping service. You will get a customer for life.
  • If a shopping cart gets abandoned and the likely cause is high shipping costs, contact the customer and offer to split the costs of shipping. The repeat business you generate will more than pay for the shipping, which is a tax deductible business expense for you anyway.
  • In your customer interactions, “default to yes” for the small stuff. Don’t argue, don’t quote policy, just help.
  • Support your products, even if they are out of production. The iRobot people, the makers of the Roomba vacuum cleaning robot, support all their models, even the first ones they made. If someone calls with a problem with a 10-year-old, first-generation robot, if they can’t find a way to repair it they will give you a substantial discount on a new one.

Make “surprise and delight” the mantra of your entire company just because it is the right thing to do. The immediate ROI might not show on a spreadsheet, but the loyalty and word-of-mouth it will generate will be worth it. And besides, it’s just the right thing to do.

The post How to Make “Surprise and Delight” a High-Performance Customer Experience Strategy appeared first on Digital Marketing Blog by Adobe.

How Key Industries Leverage Optimization: The Ins, Outs and Unique Differences

Marketing Cloud

Optimization and personalization are essential for success in every industry—it’s as simple as that. No matter your business, channel, or ultimate end goals, optimization can and should be a key piece of your strategy. And over the next six weeks, some of the best optimization and personalization minds from Adobe Consulting will be rolling up their sleeves and sharing some tips, tricks and insights from the trenches to help companies across a host of industries push harder, faster and into the next level of maturity.

Each of these roundtables will shine a light on the color and character of some core industries and how the marketers, analysts and key decision makers are making optimization a major piece of their digital marketing practice. What’s interesting is, while these industries are incredibly different, many of the themes that have emerged have significant overlap. Despite their unique needs and divergent end goals, marketers in every industry seem to be tackling some of the same challenges and navigating towards the same wins. Some examples?

Customer Experience Optimization

Regardless of the industry, creating a positive customer experience and easy-to-use digital interactions results in loyalty, retention and increased conversion. Why? In today’s paradigm a company’s brand is the sum of its cross-channel user experiences. Every brand should have a vested interested in leveraging optimization best practices to maximize each and every customer touch point.

Leveraging Personalization to Boost ROI

Brands today have significant access to customer data and, from that, can test data points and segments to see which characteristics define audience behaviors. Once these segments, personas, and individual attributes are identified, optimization methodologies can build actionable content strategies to create meaningful content personalization. Regardless of the industry, personalization ensures a customer connection that leads to deeper relationships and measurable upticks in sales and revenue. You could be an auto brand, an Internet service provider, an e-commerce site, or anything in between—no matter your industry, utilizing optimization tools to develop and execute your personalization strategy will boost your ROI.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Last but not least—and likely no surprise here—creating a mobile-first strategy was on the tip of everyone’s tongue, from industry to industry. Although it’s not a new technology mobile is quickly surpassing desktop in terms of consumer interactions. So the million-dollar question: how do brands build meaningful connections with customers in this new world order? How are companies in every industry going to create mobile-first strategies that resonate? And, underlying all of this, how can we begin to understand customers’ needs across divergent mobile platforms? One thing’s clear: every industry will be looking to best-in-class optimization and personalization strategies to ensure they win big this year.

So those themes were consistent—but what unique considerations emerged from our industry-specific conversations? Our Adobe Consulting optimization and personalization experts surfaced countless tips and tricks across their respective industries and, while there’s much more to come over the next few weeks, these are some of the ideas that inspired me. Check back for the industry-specific deep dives throughout the coming weeks.

Travel and Hospitality

The travel industry is jam-packed with exciting opportunities and developments on the optimization and personalization front. But, before any of this can really matter, travel and hospitality brands need to commit to evolving and innovating—and that means smashing through old communication models and ensuring brands are connecting with digital-savvy travelers both on property and off with digital and physical experiences that resonate.

B2B/Lead Gen

Brands are combatting low volume by making bigger, bolder changes and using blended success metrics to understand return on investment (ROI) and other key performance indicators (KPIs). The real optimization story in 2016? Go big or go home, at least when it comes to B2B.

Financial Services

Although the financial industry roundtable led to plenty of interesting tips and tricks for maximizing KPIs, our experts found that in this space ensuring a successful and scalable organizational approach to optimization is key to success. What’s it all about? In short, maximizing financial optimization opportunities is all about garnering clear alignment across business units and governance process to help cut through the red tape.


How can’t you tap into optimization and personalization strategies in the retail space? In this consumer-centric moment in time, retail brands need to focus on building loyalty across all channels. More and more customers are shopping for the same products across multiple bands literally at the same time. Maximizing that brand loyalty—and, with it, ease of use and connectedness—will make or break the future of many companies. How to win? With best-in-class user experience optimization and personalization strategies that resonate.


Our auto experts weighed in on a number of great optimization processes brands that dealers can leverage right now. The most important next step, from where I sit? Creating a mega-conversion metric that extends across your digital properties as well as dealer lots. The auto buying experience doesn’t start on a desktop site and end with a dealer visit—this one’s far from a linear journey. Given consumers’ constant bouncing from mobile to dealer to desktop and back again, that mega metric can help maximize the value of your optimization efforts by following customer journeys no matter where they lead.


Our Telco experts stressed that in their competitive landscape leveraging user experience optimization to improve the selection, conversion and self-service funnel drives customer loyalty. Optimization can also be used to improve product bundling design and value proposition, so your products resonate with shoppers.

Again, more to come on each of these industries in the next few weeks. Thanks to these optimization pros and moderators Christi Terjesen and Kaela Cusack for weighing in on some exciting topics—without a doubt, 2016 is going to be a banner year for optimizing and personalizing across all industries.

The post How Key Industries Leverage Optimization: The Ins, Outs and Unique Differences appeared first on Digital Marketing Blog by Adobe.

Adobe Target: New Frontiers in Automation & Leveraging Audiences

Marketing Cloud

At the end of last year, I wrote a blog series on the milestones we had reached in our enhancements to the core features supporting a comprehensive optimization and personalization program within the new Adobe Target: Marketer Control & Guided Best Practices, Sophisticated Profiles & Audiences, Customer Journey Optimization, Mobile Optimization, and Automation. This gave us the chance to look at the full solution and make it easier and faster to implement and scale, with greater clarity and intelligence. It was gratifying to reach these milestones after several years of redevelopment, and to witness our clients able to democratize testing and personalization into the hands of practitioners across divisions of their organization, and expand a holistic approach to optimization and personalizing experiences across all of their digital channels for diverse audience segments. They can now more efficiently scale and expand their efforts by delivering a myriad of testing and targeting activities (A/B, MVT, targeted recommendations, machine-learning automated personalization) through a single line of code for supporting an adaptive content strategy at each customer interaction. This spans from acquisition in email, display, or social through to web or mobile site, into all types of mobile apps, and even reaching a new frontier of Internet-connected devices and screens leveraging a unified profile, such as gaming consoles, cables boxes, digital kiosks, ATMs, and the screens in cars, planes and now even home appliances.

I’m also excited to see the momentum hasn’t waned in the new year; there are so many new things we’ve released this month, and we will be releasing in the next couple of months, to “geek out” on leading up to our Adobe Summit announcements in late March.

First feature I want to call out is additional advancements we’ve made in leveraging a unified profile comprised of all available data, allowing for more granular, sophisticated audiences for evaluating test results and targeting within activities. Late last year, we strengthened the connection that Adobe Target has to our Customer Attributes feature in Adobe Marketing Cloud, which allows a non-technical marketers to easily drag-and-drop CRM and other first-party data files to be automatically parsed and appended to our unified progressive Marketing Cloud profile already collecting data in real time within Adobe Target. It’s also easy to regularly schedule imports of this updated feed. This month, we added a new feature we’ve titled “Super” audiences, which makes it simple to combine variables within a compound audience you are  building within Adobe Target leveraging and/or logic. This makes it even easier to incorporate this comprehensive profile data into the audiences that matter most to you, for testing, targeting or predictive analysis and automated personalization within our machine-learning algorithms. Of course, audience segments can also be easily sourced with a click from other solutions within Adobe Marketing Cloud as well, because the unified cloud profile means that all audience segments definitions are the same and completely shareable. These features all work together to reinforce what is a fundamental area of any optimization and personalization solution which impacts its effectiveness – namely, the ease of importing the data you need regularly for accurate targeting and analysis within reporting.

The second feature I want to call out in this blog is in an area where we continue to break new ground in the optimization and personalization market – automation. In the past few years, we’ve released several machine-learning algorithms under the title of “Automated Personalization,” which allow for several powerful abilities for refining your personalization and testing strategy. First, they allow you to weigh the value of several different options you might have in a campaign, content, or design/layout quickly. Second, they evaluate all profile variables with machine-learning, self-optimizing precision, surfacing up and taking action on what is most predictive based on your conversion event. Third, they adapt over time to changing trends as they self-optimize; we have leading retailers and financial institutions which have over a hundred Automated Personalization activities running to track and take immediate action on how trends are changing based upon season, new campaigns, shifting public sentiment, and other influencers on visitor preferences.

Our new breakthrough is adding a brand new algorithm to the set that handles Lifetime Value. It judges different content, offer or design/layout choices based upon a propensity for repeat conversions, and makes its decision on automated targeting based on what will generate the most value long term. So, it’s evaluating, by looking back at predictive profile variables as well as historical conversion patterns, what is the best option to deliver to you now to compel you to return and convert again, be it a similar or complementary purchase, signup, or consumption of video or content. Think about the potential here: for retailers, we can be delivering the most effective content or offer in real time that will compel a consumer to return more frequently for purchasing a timely product, based upon a sale or a certain reminder. For Media & Publishing companies, it can be a time to see the next best clip or episode of their new favorite show, or to tune in for the regular posting of their favorite blog. For Travel & Hospitality customers, there’s the ability to promote reservations prior to travel for cross-sell/up-sell as well as promote upcoming packages relative to school vacations, holidays, etc. The list goes on and on across all verticals where visitors tend to return with relative frequency, and the algorithm is like your pocket analyst, doing a tremendous amount of predictive analysis for you in real-time. So happy to see how our customers continue to refine their strategy and effectiveness with these automated tools at their fingertips!

Stay tuned for so much more in the coming weeks and months. Here’s to the very best “optimized” 2016 for all of you!

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Four Ways Big Brands Can Innovate (And Compete) Like Mobile Startups

Marketing Cloud

Forward-thinking business leaders across industries are starting to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) and innovate their digital experiences around new devices.

For digital marketers, this technology trend should be repositioned as the “Internet of Me,” according to Kevin Lindsay, Adobe’s director of product marketing. The wealth of digital data we can collect from mobile and Internet-connected devices enables marketers to deliver personalized experiences at any phase of the customer’s journey with our brands.

Yet most businesses, especially established corporations, are lagging behind, perhaps slowed by a lack of strategic and technological agility. Or, even worse, they are hindered by a disconnect from what their very own customers demand from brand experiences: convenient, seamlessly connected, intuitive, and automated interactions with the products and services they use every day.

Smart devices and mobile apps first enabled startups to grow at unprecedented rates by tapping into new ways of reaching and creating value for customers. Now IoT is enabling a new wave of startups. In many cases, an IoT device is controlled by a mobile app that has been downloaded to the consumer’s smartphone. As such, the smartphone has become the “universal remote control” for digital experiences. The most obvious examples of companies that successfully leveraged mobile-only experiences were startups not long ago. Uber officially launched in 2011, and its mobile-app-driven fleet of connected cars has spread like wildfire across the globe. In 2007, Fitbit looked ahead and saw in sensors and wireless technology an opportunity to revolutionize the fitness industry.

These mobile and IoT-centric startups are using their agility to surpass corporations with household brand names. Fortunately, any business can use mobile and IoT to grow its brand. You don’t have to be a startup to disrupt your industry—you just have to act like one.

Who Will Be The Uber Of Your Industry?
Acting like a startup means actively looking for opportunities to innovate at the place where your business and the latest technological evolution intersect. But you have to do more than look; you have to act.

Startups are focused on one thing and one thing only: growth. That singular focus emboldens them to take risks. If this is not natural for your organization, it may be that your enterprise is big enough to have a lot more at stake. It’s understandable to be risk-averse, but don’t be blinded to the biggest risk of all: becoming irrelevant to customers as smaller but bolder brands take your place.

Mobile is both the foundation of IoT and the reason that tech startups were able to innovate and grow. If you want to be the next Uber, you must focus on the rapidly evolving mobile and IoT trends and get ready to act when your innovation opportunity comes along.

Here’s how:

1. Leverage innovation in your existing products and services: I recently bought a Bose wireless speaker—my first home stereo system in a long time—because I was taken by its new and innovative design. It’s a compact but powerful speaker that connects to your mobile device. Upon installation, the first thing you do is download the mobile app. You control the Bluetooth-enabled speaker through the app, which also teaches you all of the speaker’s functionalities. Bose was thinking like a startup: The company understood the way mobile apps and connected devices are driving new user experiences and jumped at the chance to innovate.

2. Prepare your enterprise to take action: If you want to jump at your chance to innovate, you’ll need the in-house technology and development skills or partners in place. This often means combining mobile and cloud technology infrastructure and going fully digital in order to “create a new business model by connecting people, processes, things, and data in order to keep up with technological innovation.” It also means forging outside-the-box partnerships, making cutting-edge IT a priority, and designing an agile infrastructure that can be scaled and adapted to your next opportunity.

For example, Australian mobile provider Telstra stays technologically nimble and ready to pounce by collaborating with startups, investing in machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, and making sure its network is the best in the business.

3. Secure C-level sponsorship and funding: Although 75% of companies have or are planning a mobile strategy, surprisingly only 30% can say mobile is central to their overall enterprise strategy. And mobile is not a budget priority. You may know that mobile is crucial, but it still gets lost in your company’s overall marketing strategy. As Matt Asay, Adobe’s VP of mobile, put it, “Your CEO might be saying, ‘Mobile is really important,’ while at the same time cautioning the marketing team, ‘You better not miss your numbers this quarter.’ Folding in a mobile-first strategy is a longer-term initiative, so it often takes a back seat to immediate revenue goals.”

To innovate successfully, you need C-level sponsorship and funding. Chances are your execs already consider mobile and IoT a top strategic priority, but they may need to adopt a startup mindset, take a risk, and align the budget with their priorities.

4. Connect everything to the customer relationship: Mobile and IoT technologies are powerful because they allow you to tap into a recurring relationship with the customer that wasn’t possible before. That’s the whole point as marketers: building a deeper relationship with the customer that goes beyond a purchase transaction. As trust and loyalty grows through your customer-centric mobile apps and IoT products, so do your opportunities for branding and awareness.

For example, Ford is building a relationship where a relationship was not even possible before. With a mobile app for its electric cars, Ford is fostering brand loyalty. These “connected cars” communicate with the app, allowing users to control charging remotely, find nearby charging stations, and more. This new and highly valuable experience is engaging Ford customers much more frequently than they were able to before.

The Big Brand Advantage
Enterprises have one distinct advantage has over lean startups: a deep pool of customer data to drive its strategic innovation. The ability to analyze your data for insights into what your customers desire right now is an asset you should exploit to find new ways to grow.

The business value of data won’t depreciate any time soon. In fact, the IoT trend is ushering in a new age of “data and information flows that continually emanate from people and devices.” Make full use of the data you have now and all future opportunities to more deeply understand your mobile and IoT users, and you will have distinct competitive advantage in a world that is becoming digitally connected at every time and place.

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5 Ways to Kickstart Your Email Marketing in 2016

Marketing Cloud

Email remains a centerpiece of effective campaigns and a powerful way to nurture customer relationships. In 2016, dust off your email marketing methods, and place email at the heart of your content marketing strategy. Here are five resolutions you can make to ramp up your email programs and engage customers in the new year. For more email marketing tips for the new year, be sure to read through our full whitepaper “10 New Year’s Resolutions for Email Marketers” here.

1. Use Preference Centers to Give Your Customers Control

When you give customers more control over how, when, and why they receive emails, you learn a lot about them. The more you know, the better you’ll be at delivering relevant, dynamic content.

Preference centers are a golden opportunity to gather customer insights from purchase history, email activity and other data tied to email. Because preference centers allow subscribers to specify the amount and type of email they receive, they are less likely to unsubscribe altogether.

2. Invite Customers to Re-Engage with Your Brand

When a customer abandons a shopping cart, unsubscribes, or otherwise wanders from your brand, act fast with a targeted email. Email remarketing invites the customer to reengage by sending a simple thank you, asking for product reviews and offering on-point product recommendations.

Just be sure to send your personalized remarketing messages while the product or transaction is still fresh in the customer’s mind, but not so fast that your brand appears “creepy.” There’s a sweet spot.

3. Consider Context the Queen (Content is King)

Contextualization takes quality data and no small effort from your content marketing teams. However, contextualized email campaigns that respond to the individual’s time zone, location, and personal preferences are some of the best ways to build loyalty.

Contextualization uses algorithms to dynamically alter email messages based on the reader’s past and real-time behavior. Select the conditions for personalization in advance, then let them dictate the real-time results when the email is opened, like a unique call-to-action based on the reader’s loyalty status or device. The beauty of contextualization is it actually enables you to deliver more relevance with less personalized content.

4. Practice Less Is More

To keep your emails out of the trash, send fewer. But make your emails count with more relevant content and optimized subject lines. This two-pronged approach will increase open rates while decreasing the number of emails you have to create.

While an initial influx of high email volumes might garner attention, there’s a long-term negative impact on customer loyalty and fatigue of sending too many emails. It’s more about more efficient and effective communication.

5. Make Mobile a Must

Approaching email with a mobile-first mindset requires more than responsive design. You need to optimize all aspects of your email campaign for mobile viewing. Brief, fast loading and visually captivating emails perform best on the handheld screens of mobile devices. And if you want readers to move from email to a landing page or check out, make sure every step of the process is mobile friendly.

Mobile-first email marketing means building fully mobile campaigns that work seamlessly across different devices, email clients and mobile browsers. When designing these emails, think like a consumer on the go, not a desktop surfer.

New Year, New Email Practices

This year, resolve to more effectively engage customers with dynamic, highly personalized emails fueled by contextual data. If you’re new to marketing, kick start your career with a strategic focus on email. If you’ve weathered multiple digital marketing evolutions, enhance your email marketing experience with the best technology, tools and data.

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4 Ways to Add Mobile Messaging to Your Marketing Mix

Marketing Cloud

One sports league embraced mobile marketing by developing an app that sends subscribers game status messages, late in the competition. For example, subscribers might get a message like, “Five minutes left in <team name vs. team name> with <team name> up only three points!” App subscribers can then watch the rest of the game on the app. This seems like a great idea to generate app usage, but, it’s not tailored to the specific user experiences. These messages are sent in blast form to everybody, with subscriber getting four or five notifications a night. To optimize for a better experience, the mobile marketing team should focus messaging around league team favorites as selected by app users.  

When we talk about adding mobile messaging to your marketing mix, it’s not always about what steps to take, but more about the end game you’re focusing on when adding mobile messaging to your marketing mix. What is the behavior, action or end result that you want your messaging campaign to drive? More importantly, what is the experience you want to drive?

Once your mobile marketing strategy brings users to your app, you need to understand how you tailor the rest of the experience. What should your users be doing next? If you start with the end in mind, mobile messaging can help you get your users to your desired user experience. Here’s a list of 4 areas you should understand as you start to use mobile messaging in your marketing mix.

#1 Push Notifications Bring Them in

Push messaging should be used to bring people in via app download then give them reasons to get back into the app. Once there, you can drive more engagement with contextual experiences inside the app. In-app messaging is there to boost engagement. If you think in terms of filling the pipeline, push notifications can drive the top of the funnel. In-app messaging can keep them there with relevant, engaging content.

#2 In-App Messages Cross-Promote and Attract Subscriptions

You’ve gotten them to the table, now it’s time to eat. This is where you introduce in-app messaging to your users. This is the time when they’ve started to use your app and you can use messages to show them new features and enhance their usage of your app. Sometimes when you ask new downloaders to subscribe to too many messages too soon, they feel attacked. In-app messaging is a good place to gather subscriptions; after your users have developed a good taste for your app or services.

In-app messaging is also powerful because of its targeting capabilities, and can be a great moment to implement cross promotional strategy. Brands with multiple apps often use in-app messaging to drive traffic to other apps. For example, Disney World’s GPS-enabled My Experience app lets users plan their trip through the park during their visit. The company also recently released a shop app where visitors to easily find and purchase merchandise and have it shipped to their home without standing in line. Disney mobile marketers use in-app messaging to move their audience from the My Experience app to the shop app, enabling a seamless and a more delightful experience. In this case, in-app messaging is the right channel to increase engagement, instead of push notifications. This is where in-app, cross-promotions become part of a multidimensional mobile messaging approach.

#3 Real Time Messaging

In-app messaging gets users to take action while they’re in the app. Once you’ve led them past the initial download, you’ve got an opportunity to respond to their actions, especially premium actions. To be effective, most of the time you’re going to need to serve messaging based on actions occurring in real time. For example, app updates provide a great opportunity for real-time messaging. When an update is complete, you can send the user a message suggesting some new features to try. This supports a broader and deeper use of the app, which, in turn, provides more timely opportunities for in-app messaging.

#4 App Trials Lead to Premium Subscriptions

App trials are also a great way to generate premium subscriptions. Adobe, for example, offers a Lightroom Mobile trial. After the 30-day free trial, you’ll receive an in-app message encouraging you to sign up for the premium edition. We continue to expand the user experience by offering access to our other apps. We use in-app messaging to drive users between apps and into the full app. From there users will then move up to the Creative Cloud. If you’re in Photoshop Mix and use certain features that are akin to Lightroom features, a message pops up suggesting that you might prefer Lightroom because it can enable greater digital appeal of your image. Moving users from Lightroom to Photoshop Mix or vice versa can be a useful tactic because, when trial users are ready to buy, they tend to subscribe to the Adobe Creative Suite. Through messaging, users have been enabled to see the value across all the solutions.

Premium subscriptions can be the end result for an app-messaging initiative, but your initiative may be different. One other sports league that uses in-app messaging to increase premium subscriptions drove more than 150,000 incremental premium subscriptions. The initiative cost them almost nothing to develop and deploy. Users had already downloaded and used the basic version of the app, so upsell messaging was created based on in-app behaviors. This is where the beauty of using in-app messaging can really come to fruition and true value. You’ve got both user preferences and app usage to base premium messaging on.

Don’t build your mobile marketing strategy by deploying messaging in silos. Create an integrated mobile messaging strategy that leverages the relationship between consumers and your apps in multiple ways. Mobile messaging can improve the app experience and lead to better conversions, so plan wisely how you’re going to incorporate mobile messaging into your media mix.

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5 Reasons Marketers Need Transformation

Marketing Cloud

In September 2015, I attended the Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium in Japan where digital transformation was the theme. In his presentation, Dai Tamesue, Japan’s record holder in the 400-meter hurdles, made the valid point that transformation is essential for individuals as well as businesses. I would like to introduce how his story of transformation helps marketers transform themselves in the digital world.

Here are five reasons transformation is essential for marketers.

1. Having ultimate objectives hones the right skills

One of the transformation decisions that Tamesue made was to identify his objective. In an interview with the Japan Times, Tamesue described the great opportunity the hurdles offered because there were fewer competitors than in the 100-meter sprint. He decided to transform from a 100-meter racer to a 400-meter high hurdler to achieve his goal of becoming a world champion.

In a recent MIT Sloan survey of 1,559 executives and managers on digital transformation, 78 percent of respondents predicted that transformation would become crucial to their organizations within the next two years and 63 percent said that the pace of technology change in their organization was slow. In other words, transformation was needed, but it wasn’t coming fast enough. This delay in action is usually the result of seeing transformation as too daunting of a task.

The solution is to look at what you can transform personally. Are you sticking to your marketing tactics that were successful in the past? As Tamesue’s story demonstrates, it is important to have a clear vision of your objective or you risk changing your success factor and lose confidence after all.

After identifying what the race entailed, Tamesue broke the 400-meter hurdles into segments and focused on mastering each portion of the race.

2. An incremental approach brings clear rewards

As with most change initiatives, the first step is usually the most difficult. It is hard to change at first, especially when most of the marketing activities you’ve done in the past worked fine. But when looking at transformation as equal to a form of self-adjustment, it becomes easier to make the right moves, especially when the rewards can be seen. Once success appears on the horizon, those involved in the transformation become more engaged.

When Tamesue began his transformation to the 400-meter hurdles, he realized that in this race, first you sprint 45 meters, then you clear hurdles every 35 meters until you get to the last 40-meter stretch when you sprint to the finish. He said, “There are 10 hurdles in total and I’d set out by covering the distance between each in 13 strides. But as I tired during the race, and my strides got shorter, I’d switch to 14 until, nearing the end, I’d switch to 15 as I got even more tired. Some runners would rather be consistent and stick to 15 strides, or even 13, between hurdles.”

Tamesue knew that to not only compete, but also to win, he would have to approach the race from a scientific viewpoint. Once he realized his objectives and broke them down into workable tasks, he became more engaged in the transformation. Each new and better approach led to more ideas, creating a snowball effect of discovering ways to fine-tune his performance.

3. Adaptation becomes easier

Tamesue retired from professional hurdling at age 34, authored three books, became an investor, and is currently involved in real estate. He was able to transform from a 100-meter sprinter to an Olympic 400-meter hurdler, and then from an athlete to a businessman. He savored the condition he was in at his peak, but knew he would never be in the same condition again. His journey of transformation has enabled him to better adapt to his environment on a frequent basis.

The point is that once digital marketers commit to the idea of transformation, adaptation becomes easier. Successful marketers have developed the ability to adapt purposefully and continuously to their competitive environments. But lagging marketers who fail to notice the changes going on around them and adapting to them are forced to play catch up when it is probably too late.

4. Helps you avoid the past successes trap

You may remember the “boiling frog syndrome,” that is, if you put a frog in a pot of water and slowly bring the water to a boil, the frog will stay there and die. The same is true with our successes. It is easy to allow past successes to lead us to believe that we will always hit home runs. Of course that is not true, but any of us can get caught in that trap.

Just like BF Skinner’s Operant Conditioning with rats, which concluded that reinforced behaviors tend to be repeated, for Tamesue, remaining a 100-meter sprinter was a trap. “Many athlete friends said they didn’t understand my decision, or the idea I would switch to hurdling because I wasn’t successful at 100 meters. … And to withdraw is considered evil. However, I realized my limit as a 100-meter sprinter—though I still had emotional attachments to the race.”

Think twice if you are conditioned to stick with past successes. When we keep a finger on the pulse of our strengths, skills, weaknesses, and talents, and assess our performances, we should be able to avoid the trap and embrace transformation.

Matsumoto transformation (2)

The graph above shows that waiting until performance is already declining not only increases the magnitude of the required adjustment but also puts companies in a reactive position, causing them to miss opportunities for competitive advantage. Especially in the digital world, we may wallow in our cocoon of past success following a traditional marketing style and miss the boat with greater opportunities. Transformation prevents us from sitting on our laurels, enabling us to adapt to the ever-changing digital marketing world.

5. Leads to innovation

Transformation requires innovative thinking. Tamesue went through his transformation with many trial and errors. He said the process was like Zen practice in which the Chinese character “禅” consists of the symbols for “index” and “simple.” He focused on a single objective and found many ways to approach it. This led him to be innovative and grow. For us, transformation will create a disruptor of sorts in the marketing world.

Digital marketing is a field of constant change. Transforming from how things have always been done to a new and better way releases the creative juices, opening new avenues of marketing and can catapult you to areas where you can blaze your own path.

You Can Shake Things Up

Change is difficult, but if we as marketers don’t embrace change and adapt to it, we will fail. Sticking with a marketing strategy that doesn’t work is usually the result of losing sight of our end goals.

Tamesue’s experience convinced me we should be open to adapting to an ever-changing marketing environment. We can only do this by transforming how we think about marketing and how we think about our customers, products, and services. Although you may have vast experiences in the marketing world, the lessons from Tamesue show us that we need transformation will move forward to survive.

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Hey, Data-Driven Marketing, Ready for Machine Learning? It’s Ready for You.

Marketing Cloud

When we look at the current landscape for marketing professionals, it is easy to forget that many of the tasks we currently undertake did not exist 20 years ago. Marketers were not concerned with social media or SEO. The ever-increasing role of technology in marketing has made it tough to truly understand what a marketer’s role will look like in another decade.

One thing we know for sure is that machine learning will play a big part in how marketing changes over the next several years. Machine learning is already playing a part in data-driven marketing strategies, and we will see that role continue to expand over time.

What is Machine Learning?

Machine learning seems to have many connotations and is often associated with artificial intelligence (AI). As movies have taught us through the years, AI seems to imply that machines will one day replace humans. Fortunately for all of us, that is not the goal with machine learning. Instead, we are hoping to create systems that can solve problems for marketers more quickly than they could for themselves.

To do that, though, marketers still need to determine what the problems are, what the parameters are for solving them, and which datasets will be used. Machine learning can then optimize and refine possible solutions based on the data provided and patterns within that data. However, for any of this to be possible, a marketer still needs to first create the strategy for the program.

Perhaps, it is easier to convey this idea through an example. Imagine asking your phone a question. The phone is programmed to quickly find a solution for you based on a specific set of data from which it can pull; it cannot pull information from just anywhere. In addition, it cannot decide to use inappropriate language, tell you that your question is dumb, or refuse to answer. The machine is learning based on data provided, but it is not thinking for itself; marketers set the parameters for how they want customer interactions to play out.

How Does Machine Learning Impact Digital Marketing?

Over time, we expect to see machine learning travel less of an AI path and more of an intelligent assistant (IA) route. In its current state, machine learning does not have the ability to think for itself. We do not necessarily want it to do that; we would lose the beauty of creativity that humans bring to the table. What would be a beneficial improvement is to see machine learning progress from its current state — where we ask it to complete one very specific task, as in the phone example above — to a state in which it can learn to identify and predict our needs.

Again, perhaps an example would be helpful. If every time you ask your phone to find a restaurant for you, you immediately ask it to also request an Uber, IA solutions would learn this pattern, and eventually, when you ask for a restaurant, your phone will ask if you would also like to request an Uber. This is still based on a limited set of behaviors and data points. However, like any good assistant, a phone with true intelligent assistance will be capable of learning to give you exactly what you want — even before you ask for it.

So that leads us to the question, “how does this impact digital marketing?” In the marketing world, we are inundated with data. IA technology can help us to process what is statistically relevant in that data and why it occurred. In the very near future, we can program it to do this proactively. This type of advance in IA technology will allow digital marketers to be even more proactive when acting on real-time insights.

What is the Future for Machine Learning?

When it comes right down to it, machine learning is already here. So what do we expect to see in the near future? Machine learning will begin to be less of a one-to-one interaction in which you ask one question and get one specific answer. We will first see it evolve into learning your preferences and patterns, and from there, it will become more proactive. IA technology will recognize questions that you might not be asking but should be.

In the longer term, we will see machine learning make it possible to take into account external factors, such as the weather and competitive analysis, to understand both the micro and macro factors influencing or causing an event. We will be able to understand why customers chose us over a competitor on Black Friday — whether it was because our newsletter went out before theirs, our product was better, or our pricing was more attractive (or, hopefully, all three). These types of insights that include external factors give us access to even more insights that we have never before been able to understand.

Machine learning truly has the ability to revolutionize the way we go to market and how we understand our customers. Being able to implement this technology quickly and efficiently will put many companies at the head of the pack. Getting your data and marketing strategy in line now will allow you to be on the edge of the machine-learning curve.

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