Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

CompetitorAnalysis

Whilst it’s important to keep an eye on what your competitors are up to, it certainly shouldn’t be in the bucket of tasks to obsess about and instead competitor analysis should be part and parcel of problem solving.

Whether research suggests a specific type of financial product should be launched, a specific mobile payment method is needed, refer a friend rebrand, registration flow optimised or customer support improvements, part of the discovery phase when looking at solutions should be analysing how other companies have solved the problem (including competitors), which would give a wide range of interesting ideas to consider.

It’s equally important to not simply copy what competitors do, but instead have a vision and ambition to deliver a next generation solution leapfrogging the competition.

An important time to analyse other companies approach to a solution especially competitors is their approach to new regulatory requirements, especially as some of the guidelines are so ambiguous and taking a risk approach to some regulatory requirements comes with potential consequences, but equally come with an avoidance of revenue loss and it’s important to remember that implementing regulatory requirements isn’t cheap not to mention the opportunity cost. An example is that if the likes of Vodafone, British Gas, PokerStars, Llyods or Apple have deployed a relatively high risk approach to certain regulations, then it’s safe to say that using their solutions as a guide would be sensible. If the regulation is industry specific then using the market leader could be a good base also.

If you’re one to obsess about competitors or tend to replicate what they do, the next time you have a big change to make or problem to solve, try ignoring that any competitors exist, ignore all current technical limitations giving the development teams a blank canvas to focus on solving the real clear problem at hand and you might be blown away at the creative thinking that the development teams and UX come up with, utilising the wide variety of new technology available which surpasses anything your competitors have got live or on their product roadmap.

Kpi

In order to prioritise effectively you need both the projected value and effort, but these aren’t always easy to come by. Projecting value can be particularly challenging if the data isn’t easily accessible which can have a knock on effect when analysing your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

Ensuring that a product / feature have KPIs is beneficial for a few reasons including: Aiding prioritisation, celebrating success, feeding back on software development iterations and to feed into the general product vision and wider business goals.

Your KPIs don’t have to be a financial value (although a good attempt at projecting a monetary value should be made to aid ROI projections) or just one KPI, but they just need to be measurable, an indication of success and for them to be linked in someway to the overall business goals, so how can you identify what your KPIs are:

  • Incremental revenue – benchmarking on existing revenue volumes for the relevant feature in question. What do you anticipate increasing the revenue / ARPU by
  • How many customer queries are you hoping to reduce and how much does it cost per contact
  • Is it solving a common problem / request that high value players have been submitting
  • Will solving the problem increase website stability, reducing downtime for customers
  • Are you expecting to increase customer acquisition numbers / conversion rate
  • Will it increase retention rates – a measure of this is churn rate / drop off as well as LTV
  • Efficiency savings – by completing a piece of work could it increase team output / Velocity whether it be development or a marketing team
  • Feature traffic / usage – if conversions or direct revenue from the feature isn’t relevant then at a minimum having sessions, dwell time and value of customers using the feature can be used as a KPI

    Identifying your KPIs is one thing, but having the data available at your disposal on a self-service basis to cut, analyse and share is naturally fundamental, but once you have identified your KPIs and have access to the data, you can be confident that you’re well equipped to contribute to the Agile piece, but also your helping meet the wider business goals.

    Positive and collaboration image

    Product Management (Product Owners / Product Managers) typically have a very broad range of responsibilities as they’re quite often seen to be the avenue to ensure not only that ‘things get done’ when it comes to product delivery, but also that the right things get done.

    The size of the business and location of departments can determine what you do day to day, for example a small company a product manager might see themselves fulfilling the role of a marketer, data analyst or developer team lead on top of their product management role, but in a larger organisation who typically handle all operations in-house might see themselves promoting the vision, providing context, prioritisation and collaborating with the different departments to get things done. Lastly you could be in the unfortunate position where you have the developers in one country, the marketers in another and further more the product management team in another country which makes collaboration all the more challenging.

    Product specialists are expected to be well rounded across a multitude of disciplines including KPIs / handling data, prioritisation (effort vs. value), customer service, UX, technical, marketing, Agile and of course product life cycle, but being a specialist in all these areas is unrealistic, so it’s fundamental to closely collaborate with all areas of the business in order to get to the right solution to customers within an acceptable time frame.

    Unlike a dictatorship, collaborating on what problems to solve is critical generating a positive atmosphere, so discussing the problem you’re hoping to solve and solutions openly and honestly with stakeholders and relevant business areas, enables you all to come to a decision together with the customer being at the heart of conversations which will result in delivering a far superior product / end result.

    This actually applies to the majority of roles, but collaboration alone is not enough and it’s equally important to be positive with a ‘can do’ attitude which will likely be absorbed across the ranks, resulting in your fellow colleagues who you rely on so much will rally behind you to fast track solutions to your customers.

    Letting the barriers down, lots of collaboration, positivity, understanding there’s no I in team, believing that you can’t do everything on your own and appreciating the support at your disposal will naturally put you on the right road to success.

    So many awesome ideas from so many people to improve product, but it’ll always be impossible to fulfil all desires in an acceptable time frame to stakeholders, making prioritisation not only challenging but extremely important.

    Process, data, collaboration and determination can certainly make prioritisation all the more effective and smoother, so looking at these areas in more detail:

    Process: Status of projects, where do product requests / bugs sit in the pecking order, ETA on delivery, investment cost and projected value of projects held in a transparent way will help with the communication overhead and help maintain trust.

    Data: To ensure that high value items are being worked on you need data to backup assumptions. It can be easy to flap and try to make a problem out to be bigger than it is to get it done, but there should always be some kind of data to back it up with examples being: incremental revenue which can be reverse engineered from retention uplift rates or projected acquisition volume increases using ARPU for example. Other ways of projecting value / determining scale of the problem is customer support queries or customer feedback, site loading times, efficiency in terms of £££ saving eg. Man hours / days or software costs etc.

    Collaboration: Discussing value and priority options openly with your colleagues will help you deliver a product in a more confident and focused way, as it’s not easy making the big decisions on prioritisation because what’s at the top or moves to the top means that the items below won’t be done now or perhaps anytime soon, so checking and agreeing on the focus / roadmap helps to give confidence to just get on with delivering a high quality & value product without having to worry about justifying a decision you’ve made alone every minute of the day.

    Determination: Prioritisation changes frequently if you work in an agile environment, so being positive and determined to deliver upcoming projects you’ve been discussing for months or even years helps to keep focus on delivering the key business goals and provides reminders that it’s still on the agenda, no matter the level of incoming bombshells / distractions.

    If someone asks for something to be done urgently without providing any numbers representing the projected value or any element to give an idea of the scale of the problem you’re looking to solve, then asking why do it or what happens if we don’t do it in the next 12 months should help to quickly prompt the need to research more into the value.

    Projecting investment cost and taking time to dig into the real value the product change will make in a collaborative way, will ensure that you’re delivering frequent value to customers internally and externally in a happy, fun and relaxed environment.

    With marketing departments typically focusing on P&L / ROI of ad campaigns and product development on product quality, product feature enhancements / performance and customer UX, it’s easy for the two business areas to be fragmented which could make the end goal harder to reach.

    Ironically although the individual department goals for both are normally so separate and different, the most common problems they face can sometimes be solved by the other eg. Acquisition marketing unable to increase incremental volume because the CPA / ROI / ARPU of the additional media spend doesn’t look healthy, yet fixing some bugs around the product feature in question, a feature enhancement or a new product release is likely to contribute to the solution that allows a raft of new customers through the door efficiently. Vice versa, a new shiny product or feature where the target audience is so niche that acquisition marketing efficiency / volume is poor or it’s unlikely existing customers will benefit, then it’ll be an uphill struggle to make the product viable.

    Fortunately the majority of brands have both of these areas in-house so it does make optimising the relationships and responsibilities easier. Naturally one area cannot exist without the other even when you look at brands like Google and Facebook who have groundbreaking products, yet still require nicely crafted ad campaigns to generate incremental revenue.

    Product developers don’t bite and marketers don’t just care about ad campaign performance, so close collaboration which is vital can be achieved by letting down a shield and discussing problems openly and bravely, so that multiple solutions can be discussed and you never know, the problem you thought was a tough problem to solve, may not be so tough anymore.

    Again, close collaboration is key and potentially another way of aiding / fast tracking an improved relationship is by recruiting a marketer or two into the product development arena or vice versa.

    The two departments working collaboratively to solve problems could lead to some spectacular chemistry.

    It’s powerful, flexible, customisable, saves thousands of man hours, provides valuable customer insights / behaviour and most importantly ensures that you get a healthy ROI if used in the right way.

    Meet The Brain: The Brain is MediaMath’s proprietary algorithm and ingests data (60 billion opportunities everyday to be exact) and decisions against that data.

    Their algorithm’s left-brain and right-brain work together to analyse large pools of impressions, looking at dozens of user and media variables, to determine which impressions will best meet an advertiser’s goal.The Brain values each impression based on its likelihood of driving an action, and bids accordingly.

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    computer-thief

    Can we place a pixel across your whole site and we’ll give you free customer insights? Can we place a pixel on each stage of the user journey so that we can optimise towards all site traffic data?

    These are two very common questions which originated from traditional ad networks and still lives on even though technology has evolved.

    If you ask a marketer if they could target anyone in the world with advertising with no restrictions, it would no doubt be their competitors customers.

    I am fortunate enough to have bought display remarketing campaigns targeting competitor customers in the past. This was when I worked across the largest hotel chain in the UK at an ad agency via an ad network. That level of targeting, special offer creative and high frequency reaped rewards as you’d expect.

    Marketers spend £millions a year on advertising and driving quality traffic can be expensive, so the last thing they want is a competitor just simply remarketing all of their users who visit their site either through FBX or display.

    Fortunately this can be avoided if marketing deploys a strict policy that they only allow media pixels to fire on an attributed basis, yes some partners might say that they’d need all data to optimise but when you weigh up value vs. risk, it’s simply not worth it. Optimising on attributed traffic only is good enough for third party ad partners.

    On the analysis front eg. Google Analytics, Click Tale, Quantcast etc. it’s a case of applying a bit of logic, experience and research so then when deploying tracking / pixels on site, your data will not be sold in a data exchange or given to a competitor for remarketing. When it comes to big blue chip companies like Facebook, Adobe and Google, there’s no need to hesitate about data security because if it gets out that they’re selling your data then it would be disastrous for them. Whereas the likes of Quantcast who are very well known for giving you FREE customer insights just for placing a pixel across your whole site, is one of those cases where big red warning lights should appear because in this world nothing is really for free and the likes of Qantcast make money from using your data.

    Having a strict cookie / tracking policy is safe and advisable but by not having one could cause your market share to decrease as your competitors steal your customers.

    You don’t walk across a busy road without looking in either direction so think twice before implementing code on your site.