conversation about maximising value from customer insight

Celebrate the Health Survey for England 2013

bathroom scalesOver the last couple of days there has been plenty of media coverage as to what the results of this health survey mean. The BBC in particular has debated whether it shows ‘more pill popping’ as a poor substitute for healthier lifestyles, or more ‘treatment where needed’ to prevent more serious conditions.

However, from a Customer Insight perspective, there is something else to celebrate here. That is the continued existence of a large quant longitudinal study of the type that does not happen elsewhere in Europe. A survey that interviews nearly 9,000 adults and over 2,000 children is not to be taken for granted by any business. Couple that with capture of consistent variables (in addition to topical ones) over 23 years, and you have a serious contribution to research evidence in the UK. An interesting throw away remark on Radio 4 yesterday was that the UK is often criticised as the ‘fat man’ of Europe, sometimes on the basis of the weight measurements taken in this survey, however at least for the UK we know the data. Such consistent record keeping of population height & weight does not exist elsewhere in Europe.

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Festive Others

Christmas_lights_in_Sloane_SquareAs we approach December and experience ‘Black Friday’ becoming more established in the UK Calendar (perhaps without Thanksgiving we can make it a holiday to remember that retailers systems do crash too?), it’s time for a more festive post. This time I’m sharing a few Christmas related insight posts from others. Hope you enjoy them. Ho ho ho…

First, how about some gift ideas for your insight team?

 

Otherwise, perhaps it’s time for an infographic on the big bird for the big day?

 

If you’ve avoided the queues, enjoy reflecting on the number of Behavioural Economics biases being used by retailers on ‘Black Friday’ shoppers…

 

Hope that was a little fun as you look forward to those Christmas parties. Do you have any favourite festive data, analysis, research or database marketing stories to share? If so, please let us know below.

Get your geek on and enjoy the visuals

SEO-ChartFor those you who have been asking for more digital specific insights and technical advice, I have been listening. To complement our recent content more focussed on effective insight leadership (see our ongoing ‘3 tips’ series), here are two guest items with a digital and technology emphasis.

First up is a post from BraveMedia’s blog, shedding some light on the murky and ever-changing world of Google’s search algorithms, for those challenged with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for their digital marketing content. What drew me to this post in the first place is the rather cool and eye-catching visualisation, so it is also another example of effective information visualisation.

The next guest content covers the potentially dry, but vitally important, topic of data modelling, when building or enhancing databases. I’ve recently been reviewing training material on this topic for a client who now needs an ‘in house’ CRM system. What struck me about LearnDataModelling.com is the simplicity and effective summarisation of material which is too often left to appear overly complex, perhaps so non-IT types don’t challenge too much? So, I share this as an example of both an important skill for customer data management teams (within customer insight not just IT) and as an example of keeping it simple.

I hope those were helpful and you enjoyed some unashamed ‘geekiness’ this time. But for those of you are thinking “all I heard was blah, blah, blah, blah”, don’t worry I’ll be returning to the English language next week.

Have a good weekend and do share your best tips for SEO or Data Modelling, I’m sure there are plenty of equally good resources out there.

Correlation is not Causality

Causality bookI don’t know about you, but one of the perennial issues I experience when communicating analytical findings to clients, or fellow business leaders, is to help them avoid the pitfall of assuming that correlation equates to causation.

Once a relationship can be shown between some customer characteristics and the objective of interest, say likelihood to purchase, people love to rush to hypotheses as to why this makes sense – even when it is extremely unlikely and causation has not been proven.

Now there are plenty of studies showing examples of spurious correlations, like the proportion of blue-eyed customers coming into a store in Moscow and the murder rate in Los Angeles. So, an extreme example can normally be thought up to illustrate this danger. However, too few people actually understand causality and how it can be proven statistically. This is also important because of the unconscious bias that we all have to seek to simplify problems and attribute causation as soon as possible; thus it can feel like ‘swimming up stream’ to suspend judgement and seek robust evidence.

So, I’m pleased to share this guest content, by Vincent Granville, recommending a classic text to help with this very challenge:

 

Have you read this? How do you help others understand whether to not they have proven causality?

Data-driven Spam is not an improvement

Bottles in art exhibitionOur latest sharing of content from others is this article from Mark Cameron. He makes the very important point, that just being better at targeting your messages or executing them more efficiently, will not protect you from it being spam.

The forgotten component, in too much data & digital marketing ‘innovation’, is understanding your customers (their needs & what they view as relevant).

 

I hope you enjoy this article as well. In line with some comments I made when reviewing ‘Marketing Payback’, I fear that today’s marketers have become captivated with digital/mobile/social/omni-channel capabilities and taken their eye off the ball of some marketing basics. That applies just as much to the need to really know your customer as it does to being able to accurately measure the effectiveness of your marketing.

Customer Insight Leadership will be needed more than ever to address the failures that are bound to result from over-inflated expectations. Just as, in the past, data warehouses and CRM systems rarely lived up to their promise – we are just beginning to see the same with platforms for social & mobile marketing. But all these capabilities have the potential to be relevant to customers lives, if you put the customer first and our guided by what you need to know from them first.

Do you agree? Please share your thoughts on this guest post.

 

CDOs, Data Sharing Standard and LinkedIn

To compliment our recent emphasis on analytics, here are a number of data related articles from other bloggers to share with you. First, in an article published within Autumn 2014 edition of DataIQ Magazine, I caution the new cohort of more senior Customer Insight Leaders to not overlook their data teams. I would recommend anyone in this role read: “Don’t turn your data team into Cinderella“.

To introduce “How can you influence at the Top Table”, I mentioned the growing number of Customer Insight Directors or  Chief Knowledge Officers now emerging as C-Suite level roles in blue chip companies. We have also shared six tips for those with the new role of Chief Analytics Officer (or as some companies prefer Chief Customer Science Officer). To compliment that content, here is an interesting perspective from IBM, introducing the Chief Data Officer role. CDOs may have a less glamorous job in many organisations, but they are no less vital to the success of Customer Insight capabilities:

The topic of data sharing and open disclosure with customers or citizens has been in and out of the news in recent years. Two communications on this topic struck me recently. The first is Tim Davies’ overview of the changes being proposed for government to register its data sharing arrangements. In light of the coming General Data Protection Regulation from the EU, this is an interesting approach which businesses would do well to watch:

On a more personal note, I had the unusual experience of being impressed by an email on how a business will use my personal data, or a privacy notice. Communications on this topic are normally so dry that they appear to be using boredom as a means of avoiding customers engaging and understanding impact. However, a noble exception recently was this email which I received from LinkedIn. Both the language used and the ethos of the approach were refreshing, perhaps other businesses could learn from this approach:

LinkedIn data notice

I hope all that data-related content helps redress the balance. It must be time for research again soon! In the meantime, do let us have your comments on these or any related data topics that matter to you.

6 key attributes of Chief Analytics Officer

6 key attributes of CAOIn this published slideshow (with associated notes), Rob O’Regan from IT World shares some sensible tips for Analytics leaders with this new job title. Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) appears to have now joined Chief Knowledge Officer and Chief Insight Officer in the pantheon of possible names, for the most senior customer insight leader in a business.

Returning to one of my soapboxes, it’s a shame that this focusses just on analytics and not the whole customer insight ecosystem. But that said, several of these points make good sense and hopefully you find them helpful. I do agree with his focus on translation, outcomes and the need to be willing to fail to learn. It is also important to embed a culture of action orientation in your team, something I’ll share more on in a future opinion piece.

Let me know what you think of this guest content.