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Evolving Analytics: Descriptive, Predictive, Prescriptive

Makers of Modern Marketing at Oracle: Elena Drozd 

Welcome back to the Makers of Modern Marketing at Oracle! A blog series dedicated to the architects and risk-takers behind marketing at Oracle to give readers a peek into how we are building the future of digital marketing from the inside-out.

This month we had the pleasure of sitting down with Elena Drozd, senior director of data science and advanced analytics, to discuss recent leaps in analytics and where those leaps will lead. Spoiler alert: Predictive analytics is the present — and future — of digital marketing. 

Drozd spends her time at the epicenter of data science and analytics She manages a team of eighteen data scientists and regularly acts as a bridge between their techie, analytical minds and the business side of Oracle. 

Analytics for All

Oracle’s “Analytics for All” philosophy rings particularly true for Drozd, “We should be building tools so that non-analytical professionals can have accessible data to fuel data-driven results.” While Drozd herself may hold a PhD in mathematics, she believes that enabling all employees to have access to clear, comprehensive data will best serve Oracle in this data-driven future. 

 

“Part of our job is to make you feel comfortable with the data, help non-analytical people use and trust data more.”

 

As marketers, we know that there is a plethora of data available to us, and most of us are keen to tap into every avenue possible, but how can we handle that data better? Improved visualization has played a major role in enabling data scientists to equip the less tech-minded with key information from the abundance of metrics. 

What used to require detailed, custom-built solutions can now be achieved through adept use of always-on capabilities. “Part of our job is to make you feel comfortable with the data, help non-analytical people use and trust data more,” says Drozd. “And, we’re working to create tools, which will facilitate that.”

Want to be able to walk into the office, and ask for your revenue stats first thing? Or maybe get an update on how that recent campaign is doing? Your voice command assistants Alexa or Siri can do more than read out movie times and the weather. Soon, they will be able to interpret your data for you. 

“I see Oracle Voice Assistant extending its presence into the majority of our applications.” This will be a real leap for Oracle customers, in terms of further enabling their digital transformation and empowering business leaders directly with key data insights. 

Descriptive. Predictive. Prescriptive.

Three words Drozd applies to the past, present, and future of data analytics: descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive. Descriptive analytics refers to knowing where your business stands in the industry (Who is your buyer? What are their needs?) and applying that knowledge to your future business models to drive improved results. 

Predictive is what is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. What is your customer going to do next? And how do we anticipate that? Predictive analytics has allowed marketers to create unique segments and personalize communications down to the individual. As companies continue to move from more traditional tactics with their digital transformations, predictive will continue to play a huge role in how marketers and data analysts build business models. 

But what’s next? Drozd believes we stand on the precipice of what she refers to as prescriptive analytics, “the missing piece between data scientists and business leaders: the concept of what action you should take right now when predictive intelligence tells you the most likely outcome in the future.” In fact, recent implementation on machine learning is already turning this phase of analytics into a reality. 

An Argument for Transparency

Despite these developments, computers aren’t forcing data scientists onto the endangered species list. Machine learning can make predictions and helps make sense of the data, but it needs clean data to achieve the most relevant results. Data scientists build the algorithms that identify what is important for a particular use case. However, one size does not fit all when it comes to analytics, so the data scientists and the business side need to work together to construct productive business models.  

Drozd believes that “We need to have a very deep understanding of data and relationships within the data, but also how that relates to the business on a larger scale.” The ability to run analytics using machine learning and predictive models is exhilarating, but without the right knowledge for each use case, it may not be terribly useful at all. Ultimately, applying each of these attributes to your future data analytics program will allow data scientists and marketers to gain the most in-depth view of customers and the market as a whole. 

To gain even further insights, some organizations are employing analytics centers of excellence, which are designed for a specific department and are equipped with experts in that domain. These centers gain very deep solution knowledge by pairing data scientists with domain experts who “know deeper details about what types of problems could occur and can be nimble when designing and implementing that domain”, according to Drozd. Oracle has a well-established team for this exact purpose. 

Mixing Tradition with Innovation

With nearly 13 years at Oracle under her belt, Drozd can offer some insights to future marketers and data analysts who want to see what the field has to offer. Drozd, like many others at Oracle, is a lifelong learner. Her field is constantly shifting, so she suggests that every analytics professional “keep their skills current.”

“We don’t need to approach every problem like a hammer to a nail.”

However, don’t forget the traditional roots of data science either. “We don’t need to approach every problem like a hammer to a nail. Sometimes you can achieve much more with less effort and simpler tools.” Drozd mixes this combination of new and traditional methods into her skillset to provide a well-rounded strategy that appeals across lines of business. 

“I’m one of those people they call a ‘lifer’ at Oracle,” says Drozd of her relationship with the company on a whole. “It’s the deep respect and professionalism; collaborative spirit; cross-team sharing of expertise and knowledge that I love about my team and my time at Oracle.” Plus, the unparalleled technology stack is enough to make any reasonable data scientist drool.  

 

The Music of Great Design

Welcome to another edition of the Makers of Modern Marketing at Oracle, our blog series highlighting the people behind the marketing at Oracle. We’re giving readers a sneak peek into how marketers at Oracle apply their own products to drive innovation and build the future of digital marketing.

Recently, we sat down with the charming Sara Shuman, the interactive creative director at Oracle, to talk about how she has learned to ride the ebbs and flows of the technological sea. From analog computing to voice-driven experiences, Shuman has seen it all and strives to constantly learn more about what’s next and how we can best use cutting-edge technology to create more connected user experiences.

Specifically, Shuman is responsible for orchestrating all of Oracle’s digital touchpoints from marketing properties. That means that she touches every aspect of Oracle.com from the visual aspects and functionality to branding, campaigns, and social. Not to mention all native mobile apps! “It's quite a large job, and I enjoy every minute of it,” says Shuman after running through her laundry list of concerns including, demand generation, usability, click-throughs, imagery, typeface, and general aesthetics.

“If you don't like change, you're in the wrong business.”

Shuman joined Oracle in 2010 with the Sun Microsystems Acquisition. Leveraging her classical graphic design background with tactful coding and digital acumen, Shuman positions herself and her work at the hinge of change.

Her goal is to ensure customers and prospects can access Oracle information on every avenue they travel. They should have ready access to information when they need it and how they need it. She recalls the early stages of mobile marketing: Many did not think that people would be searching for Oracle products on their phones and wrote the channel off as something only for retail, but Shuman anticipated the larger shift.

Now, people search for Oracle.com on mobile devices at a massive rate, so when executives called for a mobile responsive site, Shuman could say that it had already been done. How often do you get to say that?

This anecdote represents a theme in Shuman’s career, “I tell my design team and everybody, if you don't like change, you're in the wrong business.” But, Shuman doesn’t pursue newness just for the hell of it, she is discerning in her search for the next thing that will improve customer experience—what will connect audiences to what they want as seamlessly as possible?

At the moment, Shuman is excited about touch and speech responsive interfaces (although she also thinks we could improve cleaning products for touchscreens—agreed). These methods add a more human element to the equation, which attracts consumers. Touch is now one of the most prevalent modes of interaction with a device, while speech is quickly gaining momentum with the likes of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Even gesture is becoming a mode of technological interaction, for example, turning the music up in your BMW with a twirl of your finger (still not quite as simple as turning a dial though). Staying on top of these trends is imperative to building future success.

Shuman is a life-long learner, when she hears about something that she piques her interest, she researches it, takes a course on Lynda.com, and finds ways that it can be applied to Oracle. Her propensity to embrace change has led her to the head of a team of creative, talented, and driven problem-solvers determining the look, feel, and functionality of Oracle’s digital touchpoints.

“A good user experience is something that is delightful

and easy to use.”

The creative director title might make you think that Shuman deals mainly in the realm of aesthetics, but she strongly believes that creating a strong base of functionality, content, and strategy upon which a compelling user interface can sit is the key to adoption and success. Her “less is more” approach to design lets her keep clear sight of her goals like: simplifying the interface, making it cohesive, clear, searchable, and cross-channel.

“A good user experience is something that is delightful and easy to use,” says Shuman, “we want to have a two-sided conversation” that allows the user to dictate what they need and our site is able to guide them there and answer their questions with ease.

From redesigning Oracle.com and ushering in mobile-responsive interfaces to ensuring uniform webpage functionality in many languages around the world, Shuman and her team have a massive undertaking—what keeps her (them) going? Success, of course. Shuman describes her team as highly-optimized and passionate about solving problems and building evermore fluid and desirable user experiences at break-neck pace. “We relish in our successes,” she says, whether it is reviewing metrics or receiving direct praise from clients, her team thrives on guiding the trajectory of Oracle’s brand and experience.

In the print age, success was difficult to measure, perhaps a client might tell you a brochure you put together looked nice, perhaps not. Now, we are able to measure nearly every metric imaginable with digital marketing analytics tools. With each project, Shuman can set specific, measurable goals, then down the line she can determine precisely how well she has delivered on those goals and make adjustments accordingly. This allows her team to view their successes in a concrete manner and easily determine where they can make improvements.

“I have to forget all the no’s I heard yesterday

and just ask again.”

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges Shuman has to combat on a daily basis is convincing those above and around her that a making a change or investment will be beneficial to the overall organization. “I need this level of amnesia every day, so I have to forget all the no’s I heard yesterday and just ask again,” says Shuman with a laugh.

Her level of determination is not only inspiring, but relatable to anyone trying to steer progress and be an arbiter of change. And, she is not the only Oracle woman laughing in the face of no. Oracle’s CEO Safra Catz spoke about perseverance at the last employee summit, saying, “When you hear a lot of no’s, that means you're going in the right direction. Don't stop.” Shuman attended this summit and said she was empowered by Catz speaking so candidly about overcoming obstacles and felt vindicated that she must be heading in the right direction.

The environment at Oracle lets Shuman and her team function much more like an agency. She enjoys the freedom and mobility to follow her passions and pursue industry shifts in way that she might not be able to at another company. Shumans says, “Good branding is like music.” By this, she means that you might love a song, but if you listen to it too much it becomes boring. “What Oracle is able to do with our brand, much like a good musician, is that we are able to change and adapt to keep up with tastes while maintaining our unique hallmarks.”

Over the years, Shuman has been able to compose more intricate melodies for the Oracle brand. Expanding the color palette or adding new modes of engagement, all layer more nuanced harmonies over Oracle’s baseline building up to a delightful and thoughtful customer experience.

Want more? Read Branding as a Framework for Customer Experience Management

GDPR: Why CEOs Need to Lead from the Top Down

Oracle’s Alessandro Vallega discusses the need for cultural change to ensure GDPR compliance, and why that change must come from the top.

GDPR is now in effect. (Companies across every industry have been under pressure to become compliant since the law was introduced in 2016.) Some responded by changing their IT processes, others placed the burden on their legal team, but others only began to adapt in earnest just before the May 25 deadline was approaching.

Data protection must be treated with the right level of gravitas. It might be tempting to think you can steer clear of regulatory issues as long as you are not doing anything untoward with people’s personal data, but this is short-term thinking. GDPR may only mark the beginning of a global regulatory push to improve data protection, and regulation will only become more demanding.  

Real change requires a shift in culture. The way companies govern data has not yet caught up to the way employees use technology, which is why we still see staff taking a lackadaisical approach in many organizations. They save company information to personal devices, use (and sometimes lose) business laptops on the train, and turn to file sharing sites to share sensitive information. All these practices pose a security risk, and they are all too common. 

The cost of not complying with GDPR can be significant. Business leaders will be aware of the potential risk of non-compliance (up to 20 million euros or 4% of the company’s global turnover) but there are less obvious consequences too. Data breaches must be made public to the supervisory authority within 72 hours once a company becomes aware of them, and the reputational damage that comes with these if the company does not have a good handle on security, has its own cost.

In addition, a supervisory authority has the power to impose a temporary or definitive limitation including a ban on processing, and data subjects have the right to bring claims for compensation.

This makes GDPR a boardroom issue, but this does not mean companies can just appoint someone to take charge of compliance and let them run with it. With an imperative this important, the bucks stops with the CEO.

Business leaders must be figureheads for data protection. For an organization to manage data more responsibly and stay on top of its data in the long term, it needs buy-in from all staff. Each individual must be accountable for their actions and play their part in compliance, and this understanding must be driven from the top down.  

How can business leaders help achieve this? The first step is to make training compulsory. This could include anything from data management training, to workshops on protecting data or even running phish-baiting tests to help employees identify suspicious emails.

Incentives also help drive change. Data protection needs to be as much a part of someone’s job as doing their timesheets, so why not reward team leaders who have ensured all their staff have taken the appropriate training, or include security training as part of employee performance objectives? It will ultimately come down to HR, IT or legal teams to develop these initiatives, but the imperative must come from a company’s leadership.

For more information on GDPR and its implications for leaders across the business, check out our GDPR hub page.

3 Storytelling Tips for Marketers in the Age of Social

Humans love telling and hearing stories. From children’s nursery rhymes to week-long box-set binges. Stories define who we are and how we understand the world. And that is why storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into a brand. It helps give products and services an identity.

Many think marketers have always been storytellers and that they truly understand what it takes to create an emotional, authentic connection in the stories they tell. Maybe, but the world of marketing and storytelling has entered a new era.

The traditional sales funnel has been circumvented by consumers’ use of social media channels to interact with brands. And social media and messaging services such as Snapchat and Instagram have risen to prominence in recent years, launching tools such as Instagram Stories.

Instagram launched Instagram Stories in August 2016. By the end of 2017 the service had in excess of 300 million daily users. An impressive metric that also explains how social has changed the pace and depth of storytelling and has become central to effective marketing in 2018. This new era of social storytelling means a brands’ fans and customers now get to engage with the company in a far more emotionally entertaining and informative way.

So, what are three simple steps marketers can take to tell their story and connect with their audience in this new world in a credible, interesting and believable way?

Focus on the Stories Fans Want to Hear

Brand marketing is no longer about long, general, anonymous stories about the company. Instead it is about quirky stories about the brand, about the people working in the company and about the customers.

For stories to stimulate strong feelings and inspire the imagination, there has to be a strong connection between the teller and the audience. Take the Gatorade campaign that offered a special filter that simulated Gatorade being poured onto your head (Gatorade baths are synonymous with winning.). The feature was popularized by tennis legend Serena Williams, and the campaign let fans experience the joy and have a ton of fun.This type of lively social storytelling helps set brands apart from their competition. The story has to be based in reality – and it also has to be delivered, or told, in a way that is entertaining, engaging and memorable.

Look for the Visual

Stories can be told in multiple visual and interactive ways, using new technology tools such as Snapchat Filters or Instagram Stories. This means that more often than not the focus is using imagery, video and interactive features to tell your story, instead of (too many) words.

For example, don’t forget about the value of b-roll content. If your story is set in a restaurant, you should mix in clips of people having dinner and the food to add context and depth to your social story and adventure. Offer consumers a visual layer of information that doesn’t need to be explained through words.

Authenticity Has Never Been More Important

Brands have long been judged on authenticity, but they have never found their stories so shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of everyday people. With that in mind, brands should not waste time and effort in manufacturing a so-called authentic brand story. Instead look internally and invest in employees and empower them to share their stories.

Overall, remember to focus on the stories that your fans want to hear, and tell the best stories about the people and situation behind your company’s services and products. That way, you grab your audiences’ attention, provoke their interest and convert them to action.

Plug Social Media into Your Modern Marketing Machine.

From Direct Mail to Predictive Intelligence: Riding the Technology Wave

Makers of Modern Marketing: Bence Gazdag

Welcome back to the Makers of Modern Marketing at Oracle! A new blog series dedicated to the drivers, architects, and risk-takers behind marketing at Oracle to give readers a peek into how they are applying our own products to drive innovation and build the future of digital marketing.

This week we got to chat with Bence Gazdag the Senior Director for Global Marketing Demand Center and Technology at Oracle about the many shifts he has witnessed in data-driven methodology and customer-centric marketing over his nearly 19-year stint at Oracle.  

Since coming to Oracle in 1999, Gazdag has had the unique opportunity to watch the company grow and evolve from the inside. Today, he oversees a team of 170 employees running the Global Marketing Demand Center, a shared services function that provides support globally to marketers facilitating the seamless execution of campaigns. This team spans the globe—from India to Argentina to Bozeman, Montana—covering over 40,000 execution pieces per year.

In addition, Gazdag’s team runs technology and data, customer tools and development, as well as, innovation, which means they are charged with building their own tools to power their products and systems and that they run their own databases, including the Customer Experience Database. To say Bence Gazdag is a busy man would be an understatement, but after close to two decades, Oracle’s ever-changing environment has a way of always keeping him fascinated.

“[Your customer] shouldn’t feel like they’re talking to a different person every time they pick up the phone.”

Customer Data Quality Board

We touched on the importance of quality data over sheer quantity with Patrick McGavock last time, now with Gazdag we are able to delve into who determines the standard for data quality.

Around 2005, Gazdag saw an opportunity for Oracle to gain a greater, more consistent understanding of how data is categorized across the company for improved business alignment. His solution? The Customer Data Quality Governance Board, which set up the standard against which data is ranked at Oracle. In his words it is “a cross-functional governance board at Oracle that has owners from finance, support, sales, marketing—basically, all LOB's come together to agree on common data quality standards, common data definitions.” As the Founder and Chair of the CDQ governance board, Gazdag facilitated the creation and maintenance of this “master” record of rules and standards for different data attributes. Though he has stepped down from his role as Chair, Gazdag remains an active member and is still heavily involved in what the future of data quality will look like.

Gazdag guides us to the larger view of this endeavor: personalization. Providing an outstanding customer experience hinges on a deep understanding of customer behavior, in order to supply content that is timely, relevant and attractive:

“People have a shorter attention span and when they are engaging with content, then they want to engage with a lot of content and they want to binge on the content right there in the moment vs waiting on delivery the next piece.”

It is no longer enough to just get prospects to click on an ad or email, they need to be given the option to engage immediately, then once they are customers they must be treated respectfully as an individual. “You have to merge your customer support, your sales, your marketing interactions, and engagement points so that you can have a confluent view and experience...[your customer] shouldn’t feel like they’re talking to a different person every time they pick up the phone,” says Gazdag, tying it back to the business alignment he envisioned when he founded the CDQ board.

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Predictive is The Future

Shortly after joining Oracle, Gazdag got his first taste of Oracle’s propensity to embrace new tech, “Our CMO back then said, basically from one day to another, ‘We’re going to stop doing all direct mail and traditional marketing and advertising and we’re going to switch over to this thing called e-mail marketing.’” And with that, they switched in a matter of weeks.

Now, with a keen eye on the horizon, Gazdag is excited about the possibilities AI, machine learning and predictive intelligence hold for the future of modern marketing. The latest step in Oracle’s journey is using machine learning for lead scoring purposes, leveraging marketing and sales data to optimize lead scoring for conversion. “That’s been proving very promising results,” says Gazdag, his sights already set on scaling this and other burgeoning platforms.

Gazdag has also been monitoring the progression of predictive intelligence, which activates both external and internal data sources. There are three key components in effective predictive intelligence platforms, according to Gazdag: fit, intent and engagement. In short, they gather and analyze data to determine key indicators for each point, then overlay that data to find out exactly when and which products to approach a prospect with. “We’re seeing two to four times increase in win rates.” As both account and individual digital footprints swell in size, Oracle steps up with computing power, keeping in mind data privacy restrictions that are under constant re-write with each change in the market.

These concepts can put some marketers on edge, though, will there be a point when machines can do it all and us marketers are obsolete? Gazdag isn’t worried, “Machine learning is a tool to help you digest and understand vast amounts of data and provide you with recommendations and decision points that can empower you as a marketer, to be way more nimble and way smarter with your marketing strategies. It's a tool that you need to be able to use.” It behooves us marketers to strive to understand all the different kinds of tools out there now, while the technology is in its infancy, to maximize our own capabilities.

“You don't have to be a PHD data-driven scientist to be a good marketer who's using data or machine learning…but you need to understand the concepts and how to leverage it as a power tool.”

A Marketer’s Tool Kit

It takes a versatile, ambitious and open-minded person to survive with one company through its many ebbs and flows (or downright tidal wave shifts), Gazdag has done it with marked success. He is a strong proponent of agile marketing, in fact he was featured in the book The Agile Marketer, which details a style of working that emphasizes flexibility and an openness to change within projects and plans. Gazdag suggests having a constant feedback loop with your customer to understand what they want and ensure that you are delivering on that, then adjusting regularly to provide the best results and experience.  

Gazdag encourages marketers in this data-driven world to broaden their scopes and gain at least a general grasp of data analytics and statistics, “You don't have to be PHD data driven scientist to be a good marketer who's using data or machine learning…but you need to understand the concepts and how to leverage it as a power tool.” It is essential both for understanding how best to leverage data in unique situations, but also how best to ensure that we are using customer data respectfully.

On a personal level, the freedom to function in this way is one of the main things that has kept Gazdag with Oracle for so long. It also helps that the technology stack he has access to “is a modern technology marketer’s dream.” The constant change in technology allows him to be forever learning and growing and innovating.

Besides these, perhaps, more obvious up sides, Gazdag sites another reason he has stayed put: the people. Recalling some of his first meetings back in 1999, “eight out of 10 people would be from a different country, had a different accent. They were all incredibly smart. That was just so impressive to me at the time, still is, that you've got some of the best and the brightest people from all over the world at the company that you can work with on a daily basis. That's pretty amazing.”

Are you ready to get the most out of your data but don't have a data management strategy? Download Maximize Your Marketing to learn how to use the right data at the right time to drive real results.

Maximize Your Marketing: Eight Questions to Ask as You Introduce a Data Management Strategy

Picking Up the Pieces: How Companies Rebuild Brands Post-Crisis

Every company makes mistakes every now and then. It’s inevitable. Whether it’s a marketing campaign that falls flat and generates backlash, a serious collapse in services or a faulty product, it’s bound to happen sometime. Careful vigilance will prevent many of these disasters before they explode, but eventually one will get through and everything will go wrong. And once crisis strikes, no matter how you’ve defined and cultivated your image over time, confidence in the brand is going to take a hit. It doesn’t last forever, however, and it’s certainly possible for a brand to fully recover from such a crisis.

Being able to recover from a brand crisis or a public relations disaster requires distinct actions in three phases. It helps to have an active reputation management system working before the crisis itself, it requires a measured response in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, and it depends on a longer-term strategy afterward for the recovery. You should take the crisis seriously and make an effort to honestly and transparently listen to customers and respond. For the long-term strategy after the crisis you need to be patient and careful about going back to marketing-as-usual, and you need to take real action in the long-term to prevent similar crises.

Some companies even consider re-branding entirely, although this may look suspicious to consumers if it attracts attention, and it has the potential to backfire.  It might help to look at a few examples of how companies have handled this recovery for better or for worse.

Takata Airbags and Automakers

When something serious goes wrong with one brand, it can have dramatic effects not just on confidence in that brand but on all brands that are linked to it. The Takata airbag recall is the biggest car recall in U.S. history, and it involves airbags in vehicles from 19 different automakers. These airbags have the potential to malfunction in the event of a collision and explode upon inflation, shooting deadly shrapnel around the inside of the vehicle. In the United States at least 15 deaths have been linked to Takata airbags as well as hundreds of injuries. The recall is still ongoing, meaning that many of these cars are still on the road. The problem is that there are so many airbags that Takata and automakers are not able to rapidly provide fixes.

For car companies including GM, Mazda, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and more, however, this is a dangerous brand crisis that came about through no obvious fault of their own. But compared to these auto-makers, Takata is a relatively unknown brand that consumers will rarely interact with directly. Takata may have a long way to go to win back confidence from car manufacturers, but those car manufacturers will also have their hands full rebuilding their brands with upset consumers.

In a crisis like an automotive recall, the recovery from the brand crisis depends a lot on the immediate response. Some automakers are getting little to no press attention on their brand and have had few or no reported accidents so far that can be linked to them. For them, dealing quietly and effectively with the recall and then waiting for the media coverage to pass is the best thing they can do. For the car companies getting more attention, however, their image depends on the quality and speed of the recall and their service to affected customers. This isn’t going well so far for many of the car companies, which may make for a long recovery and a drop in sales and loyalty, at least among affected customers.

Chipotle and the E. Coli Outbreak

Popular Tex-Mex restaurant chain was hit by a serious string of E. coli and norovirus outbreaks in 2015 in locations across the United States, producing a serious drop in confidence in the brand. After many locations closed and customers in seven states reported getting sick after eating Chipotle, Chipotle’s sales dropped 14.6 percent and its income dropped 44 percent in the final quarter of 2015.

This outbreak became a serious issue for the Chipotle brand because of how widespread media coverage of the issue was, and because the problem seemed to clash so directly with Chipotle’s existing brand identity. The quality and integrity of the ingredients of their food has always been one of the core values in Chipotle’s marketing, from the ethical sourcing to the way the food is prepared. This led to an even greater drop in consumer confidence after the crisis, and it created more media interest and thus widespread coverage.

In the wake of the crisis, Chipotle temporarily closed many restaurants and put some operations on hold. They returned to business as usual by December 2015, but largely kept their heads down in marketing and public statements. Several months after it was over, they closed Chipotles across the country for a morning of training and planning. That event, plus an open letter to the public from the CEO, marked Chipotle’s attempt to begin moving forward and leaving the crisis behind them. Not only did the letter accept responsibility for the food safety failure, but it promised a wide range of specific measures they were taking to improve food safety.

After these statements and actions addressing the crisis, Chipotle almost immediately started a new marketing blitz to encourage customers to return to Chipotle, including promotions for free entrees. Several years after the crisis, Chipotle has now fully recovered and restored their brand to what it was before without falling into another disaster since.

Restoring brand reputation starts with rebuilding trust. There is nothing more important than creating exceptional customer experience to help rebuild trust and build a strong brand reputation. Download Customer Experience Simplified: Deliver The Experience Your Customers Want to learn how to craft an outstanding experience for your customers​.

 

Is Content Marketing Still Relevant In Today’s Marketing World?

Over the past 24 months, content marketing has swept over the digital marketing world. Brands have been encouraged to think and act like media companies, pushing out content at a prodigious pace. Content marketing has become the new marketing paradigm, pushing aside former marketing favorites such as search engine optimization (SEO).

Understanding paradigm shifts in the marketing world

In many ways, the success of content marketing was based on it being able to prove that “inbound marketing” was better than “outbound marketing.” In other words, posting new blog content, creating new podcast content, and developing new video content was a more cost-effective way to attract potential customers than simply covering the Internet with ads.

Content marketing offered a fundamental choice of “pull” vs. “push.” Content marketers made the argument that it was more effective to “pull” a customer towards you than to “push” him or her into your arms with a bunch of ads.

But something interesting has been going on recently. We may be witnessing another paradigm shift. That’s because the type of content that marketers are creating has shifted almost exclusively to video. Check out what any of the big social media platforms are up to these days, and it almost always involves video. Check out what types of branded content is showing up in your social feeds these days, and it’s usually video content.

Of course, you could make the argument that this is still content marketing — it’s just that all the content is video content. From this perspective, it’s not so much that a new paradigm shift is going on, it’s more of an evolutionary step. Video content is better than visual content (i.e. photos), and visual content is better than text content (i.e. blog posts). In the Darwinian jungle of digital marketing, video marketing won the evolutionary battle for survival.

Ideas on what comes next for digital marketing

So which is it: Is content marketing and “inbound marketing” still relevant in today’s marketing world, or are there signs it is fading and changing in response to the new content environment in social media?

One possible answer is that the role of brands in today’s digital world is shifting and evolving in very profound ways. Take the phenomenal success of the Amazon Echo, which is a new way to interact with consumers. First of all, instead of using a keyboard or mobile phone keypad, you’re using your voice. That’s new, right? And secondly, brands are racing to create “skills” for the Amazon Echo, like the ability to order a pizza while watching a baseball game.

So maybe this is the new paradigm – brands are more like invisible tools that remain in the background of your daily digital life, waiting to be activated at the sound of your voice.

Or, here’s another idea: maybe brands are evolving into a way to enhance your everyday “reality” using virtual reality, augmented reality and other forms of mixed reality. All of the activity around augmented reality would seem to suggest that the most forward-looking brands should be looking for ways to help people live better in reality.

For example, shouldn’t big automakers be looking for ways to overlay augmented reality screens on windshields of cars? Shouldn’t big consumer brands be looking to create fun, mind-bending experiences using augmented or virtual reality? (Oh look, honey, there’s a big chocolate tree growing in our backyard! Let’s go buy some candy bars!)

One thing is certain – it’s important for digital marketers to keep at least one eye on new trends that are bubbling up in the technology sector. Nothing stays the same for long. Just as adopting a “mobile-first” mentality took some getting used to, so will whatever comes next in the digital marketing world.

Oracle’s Content Marketing has solutions to simplify the process of creating, distributing and promoting your content. Visit our website for more information.Also, make sure to read Larry Myler's, How Content Marketing is Evolving Heading into 2018 for top trends in content marketing and tips on how to stay ahead of the curve. 

*This article originally appeared on Social Media HQ

How To Win The Markie Award

Honoring excellence in marketing since 2007, Oracle’s Markie Award is a recognized global pillar of success. Companies of all sizes share their most innovative and successful campaigns in Omni-Channel Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Marketing, Data Management & Advertising, Web Optimization, Marketing Innovation and Analytics.

With over 600 entries each year, becoming a Markie finalist or winner isn’t easy. The Markie Awards recognize only the most innovative and successful marketing campaigns. Submissions take time and focus to prepare and competition is fierce. Each of the past 10 years, at least one of our clients consistently advance to the finals of the Markie Awards, and many have gone on to win.

How do these award-winning companies design their Markie caliber projects? Here is the four step process we use to help our clients architect Markie award winning projects.

1. Defining Challenging Goals

First, we spend time understanding exactly what our clients are striving for. We do this with the mutual understanding that a “challenger mindset” must be used to allow the team to come up with new innovations.

We have found that in order to become a finalist and a winner, you have to go over and beyond the basics to be considered innovative and to get the judge’s attention. Basic or easy-to-achieve goals will not accomplish that. Setting a measurable, challenging goal is key to marketing success, which leads to an innovative Markie submission.

Some of the challenging goals we’ve used recently are:

  • Increasing mobile engagement by 5x

  • Increasing new account acquisition by 50%

  • Reducing unknown to known visitor ratios 500%

  • Reducing customer effort

Our Markie-winning client campaigns all start with a specific challenging goal that’s well beyond a simple sales increase, which can be clearly documented as genuinely innovative.

2. Defining Key Data Points

Next, we help our clients define the data points needed to support the project and help achieve the goals established in step 1.

We define the key data points. Then we ask, are these data points accessible within Eloqua or Responsys? Or do we need to conduct an integration within the customer’s TechStack to sync the data? In order to achieve challenging goals, we have found the need to sync data with the web analytics platform and Eloqua or Responsys. Doing so, properly, will open opportunities to build Markie caliber campaigns much easier.

For example, we used our insights with Oracle and Adobe to share a data point that’s in Adobe but wasn’t in Eloqua. This now allows our customers to support a challenging goal of real-time, 1-to-1 website personalization that compliments an Eloqua email campaign.

Knowing what data is available isn’t enough. Knowing how it supports the project is key.

3. Experience Making - Knock Their Socks Off!

Now that the client has key data points to support their goals, the next step we use is a concept called “Experience Making”.

Experience Making is the ability to design customer experiences in a predictable manner by leveraging a harmonious integration between Oracle Marketing Cloud, the web analytics solution, and the tag manager. We have seen customer experiences go from needs improvement to exceptional. Having the right data gives clients the ability to craft better experiences and becoming Experience Makers.

Our approach is to help the client put themselves in the prospect or customer’s shoes and look for Deal Breakers.

Deal Breakers are experiences that slow down or kill engagement and ultimately, deals. This is an essential step in effective Experience Making. Markie finalist and winners seek to build campaigns that are making things easier for the prospect or customer.

4. Measuring Impact - Before and After

Documenting the results for a Markie submission is key. One example of this is how we helped a client reduce cart abandonment, increase campaign performance clarity and mobile engagement.

We take a snapshot of the baselines of how things performed before the project. We include metrics such as, opens, clicks, emails sent, downloads, video engagement, webinar engagement, leads, orders, average order size, KPI conversion rates, etc. This is so we can clearly show, in the Markie submission, what impact the new project has had by doing a Before and After side-by-side comparison.

Our successful Markie submissions have come from companies that set challenging goals, identify key data points, become experience makers, and clearly measure the impact of their efforts. Follow this proven model and maybe you too will win a Markie. Good luck!

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Dion Jones, is VP, Consulting & Multi-Solution Architect at Enautics, and knows exactly what it takes. Enautics is a specialist integration partner with Oracle Marketing Cloud and Adobe Experience Cloud.

They have developed a suite of solutions to harness and expand the “Experience Maker” capability of Oracle and Adobe Marketing Cloud. Along with their products, Enautics provides consulting solutions for marketers striving for innovative success.

 

The Markie Awards will take place on Tuesday April 10th at the Modern Customer Experience event. Make sure to check out the complete list of finalists for this year’s Markie Awards on the Markie website and also on this blog. Still have not registered for ModernCX? There is still time. Register for Modern Customer Experience 2018 here.

Tips for the Right Marketer Mindset in 2018

The new media environment is here. Or really, it’s been here long enough already that we should be used to it by now. The one constant in the marketing world of the 21st century, however, is change. In this rapidly changing technological and social environment there are new pitfalls and problems appearing every day to challenge us and force us to rethink the way we do marketing. If you’re not careful you can slip into a certain way of thinking that will lead you into some serious misstep. Follow these keys for your marketing plan and approach this year and make a difference for your brand.

Learn to be Objective, Listen to Others

As you cultivate your marketing mindset this year and start to brainstorm ideas for your 2018 plan, hold yourself accountable and make sure you listen to others around you. We all like to think we’re objective and that we know best how to deal with our field, our product and our audience. The truth is that everyone is fallible, and often our irrational love for our own ideas doesn’t necessarily prove the quality of those ideas.

In this constantly changing media environment, a little bit of humility and careful consideration before moving forward with an idea goes a long way. Every week or two another ad campaign majorly flops or inspires significant negative publicity, and in hindsight, the problems are so clear! One example from last year was the Pepsi ad that tried to comment on political divisions and Black Lives Matter protests. Failures like these could be avoided by simply making time to vet projects more extensively, opening them up to criticism before they’re aired to the public. The brainchild project you’re so proud of isn’t always going to be perfect – but you won’t know that unless you listen to people around you.

And in what some call the “post-truth” era, there’s more and more distrust and questioning of statements and claims out there. Think twice before you stretch the truth, and set yourself apart as a brand by seeking objectivity.

Invest in Training and Skill Development

“Every day there’s something new that changes the whole field,” says Rich Newsome, attorney and co-founder of Newsome Melton Law. “If you don’t have someone already working on figuring out how to use it, you’re behind.” New technologies and practices are being developed every day to match the proliferation of new media platforms and avenues for marketing. It’s your job as a marketer to stay on top of these developments, to be a “change manager.”

That means not only being aware of latest advances in the field, but investing the time and staff to be able to take advantage of them. A Capgemini Consulting study in 2017 revealed that 70% of companies in the U.S. and 55% worldwide observed a widening talent gap when it comes to new digital technologies and the ability to take advantage of them. Continuing education for you and your staff to close that gap has to be a priority. Make time for developing new skills. Your brand will suffer if you don’t.

Let Your Brand Be Genuine

Customers buying into brands today need their brand to have a personality, to represent something. One large study in 2015 showed that 91% of consumers internationally expect businesses to act responsibly and keep external interests in mind. A full 84% say they choose products from responsible, pro-social companies when possible. Gone is the era where brands could stay out of all public conversations and get by with nothing but silly, gimmicky ads. People have values and beliefs and they want to see that your company has those too. It doesn’t need to be anything controversial, and it’s safer if it’s not, but you have to somehow humanize your brand.

The most important thing to keep in mind here, however, is the importance of sincerity. If your attempt to show some sort of value or corporate responsibility is just empty posturing, audiences will see right through it and it will backfire. Let the social values of your brand come from the brand and the company itself. Smart consumers will pick up on that authenticity, and that will draw them in to your brand better than anything else.

Time to Multi-Task

If you really want to connect to your customers in 2018, you need to engage them at multiple levels. Effective marketing now means you have no choice but to work across many platforms at once. Don’t neglect your social media presence, but also don’t forget the value of video advertising across platforms like YouTube and Netflix. And that doesn’t mean you can ignore more traditional advertising media either.

The most important thing is to know your audience. Know who your potential customers are and be able to effectively target them. Follow their lead and go where they go. You have to be consistent and disciplined in your multi-platform approach so that customers don’t drop through the cracks.

For more tips, tools, and hacks to make your life as a marketer easier- join us at Modern Customer Experience 2018. ModernCX’s Modern Marketing track offers more than 200 expert-led sessions geared to equip you with new skills you can immediately apply to your work.

Register for Modern Customer Experience 2018 here.