WAA LA Symposium: Success Stories from West Coast Marketers

  For anyone who missed the fantastic WAA LA Symposium, here is everything you wanted to know (and were too ashamed at missing such a fabulous event to ask!)  The future of analytics: Jim Sterne’s keynote was a great opening to the day and focused on the possibilities of the future. Here’s how the road to success looks: 

  • Data will let us predict the future, and data modeling will let machines help us make better decisions.
  • The future of analytics is collaborative analytics – getting the information out there and getting input from the entire company.
  • Ultimately, the future of analytics is up to us, and it’s not the technology that will make it happen – it’s the people who know how to use it.
Success in large organisations: Jorge Laguna from HP and Matt Wright from Keystone Solutions presented a joint client session on the keys to successful testing in large companies: 
  • With a successful A/B and Multivariate testing program, a full site redesign is essentially dead. You are continually iterating to improve the experience and your bottom line.
  • Build relationships within and with other teams – you can’t succeed alone.
  • Recruit the right people internally, but don’t be afraid to bring in external talent that you need to ensure success.
  • Document best practices.
  • Communicate your success.
  • Build a methodology that works for your organisation.
  • Allow the necessary agility to move quickly on opportunities, and the flexibility to allow testing to work for different departments globally.
  • Future-proof your investments, for when you move to new technologies.
Shawn Hushman from Kelley Blue Book talked about the requirements of successful enterprise analytics, including: 
  • Commitment of the organisation, technical alignment and organisational clarity on what was important.
  • At KBB, results in analytics drove further demand, until it became a part of the company’s DNA.
Understanding the Multi-Channel Customer: Kristin Shanks from Petco not only succeeded by featuring her adorable puppy in her presentation, but by sharing Petco’s success in understanding their multi-channel customer. Petco’s analytics found that:
  • Multi-channel customers (for example, those who shop both in-store and online) are more valuable, spending 3x that of a single channel shopper.
  • Petco didn’t just measure the overall lift due to shipping prices and policy changes, but segmented to see the impact on shopping behavior and the shift from in-store to online, to truly understand the incremental lift.
  • Shanks readily admits this kind of analysis is not easy for them – they too struggle with data silos. But understand, and rewarding the loyalty of, their multi-channel customer was crucial to their business.
Succeeded in Your Career: Thuy Kim from Experian Consumer Direct shared some of her tips for a successful career in analytics:
  • Keep in mind the different roles you have as an analyst. You should be creative and an information architect, presenting data in a way that is understandable (and, in the case of executives, digestible in under 5 minutes) but also act as a project manager, and of course, an analyst.
    • Red Door Interactive Project Manager Malani Shubin added to this that an analyst should also be a sales person. Whether you are on the client, vendor, agency or consulting side, you’re selling your capabilities, and the benefit that you can bring to the business.
    • Don’t forget about building the foundation. Your credibility is based on the success of things you’ve done before.
    • Analytics leaders, stop to think – why should anyone be led by you? What are your team seeing you do, even if you don’t say it? How can you create an impact and earn the right to lead?  
Success in Education: June Dershewitz from Apollo Group (Univ. of Phoenix) and Scott Rutherford from UCI discussed some of the challenges faced by the use of analytics in education. (For example, imagine trying to measure the long term impact of whether use of a mobile app leads to higher grades and graduation!) Some of the successes they shared included:
  • UCI’s use of data to decide go/no go on courses ensures that they remain profitable in the face of state cutbacks.
  • Education is able to learn from other industries (for example, finance) in how important the investments in analytics facing them will be to their future success, and justify accordingly
Success in data accuracy: Jon Narong from BeachBody.com discussed the importance of data quality, and how the right team structure has helped their organisation to succeed. 
  • Analytics is considered a critical production data source, not a secondary concern and its accuracy is a top priority. Of course, you can never truly ensure 100% accuracy, but it is crucial to make the data as accurate as possible and understand why there might be some inaccuracies, not to mention understand their impact.
  • Splitting their analytics team into Business and Technical Analytics has allowed deep immersion, less distraction from the team’s core focus and organisational confidence in their data.
Success in Social: Social was definitely a focus at the event, with not only a social media panel but also a great closing keynote from John Lovett at Web Analytics Demystified. Success in social for 2012 is going to involve:
  • Moving from “what can we measure?” to “what should we measure?”
  • Leveraging learning from different channels – social is not so new or different that we can’t learn from the past. For example, success in social, as in email, isn’t based on the size of your “list” (email addresses, Facebook fans) but on what you do with it from there. How do you market to the audience you’ve built? It’s not enough to have Facebook fans – you need to market to them, and do it well.
  • But we are at the whim of the social channels – what metrics they’ll provide, and what they’ll allow to be tracked. You may need to find the right tools to complement your social strategy and even develop your own metrics to measure the impact on your business.
  • Focusing on proving value, instead of just experimenting and defining basic metrics. Companies will have to move from the “hype” to truly considering their objectives.
  • As John Lovett pointed out, “it’s frickin important to set goals” and you must align your strategy and goals with your corporate culture – “corporate culture will eat strategy for breakfast.”
  • Make sure the social work you are doing is actually right for your customers. Twitter and Facebook and YouTube might not be right for your customers, but what about your support forums where customers help each other? (After all, you wouldn’t use television to market to the Amish, would you?)
  • Never forget that social customers are just a percentage of your customers – keep it in context with your other initiatives!
Did you miss the WAA LA Symposium? Don’t forget about the great ways that the WAA can help you succeed in your career, by providing local events, education, research, standards, training and certificates, not to mention building your professional network. Check out some of the upcoming Symposiums to find one near you: http://www.webanalyticsassociation.org/?page=symposiums

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