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The Primal Urge Marketing Lacks

Wired continues to surface some of the best stories out there. This one, derived from Coders is a beauty and got me thinking about why so many marketers aren’t obsessed with driving efficiency. We are often so focused on the outcome we fail to acknowledge the inherent inefficiencies in what it took to get there. When we go in and look at marketing teams – often for frustrated CMOs, CEOs and boards we see common threads:

  1. No operating system or cadence – everyone busy as busy in their swim lane but no systems to orchestrate work and optimise processes
  2. Little data on the work being done – no idea on what output requires what input and how to 10x both
  3. A purely financial lens zoomed in on campaign ROI – and this ROI is largely only calculated on the media spend, not the cost of human and creative capital to pull it off
  4. Overinvestment in demand-side technology – and underinvestment (frequently none) in the marketing platform that would enable marketers to do their best work
  5. Little understanding of capacity constraints – endless, mindless meetings; endless distractions; no blocking off time for focused work

There are many more. So much can be learned by any marketer by hanging with their respective tech development teams – or finding the best out there and hanging with them. Look at their tools, disciplines, rigour and ask the question – “what if we did that?”. What if we increased the metabolic rate of marketing as a function:

The thrust of Silicon Valley is always to take human activity and shift it into metabolic overdrive. And maybe you’ve wondered, why the heck is that? Why do techies insist that things should be sped up, torqued, optimized?

There’s one obvious reason, of course: They do it because of the dictates of the market. Capitalism handsomely rewards anyone who can improve a process and squeeze some margin out. But with software, there’s something else going on too. For coders, efficiency is more than just a tool for business. It’s an existential state, an emotional driver.

So many of us have become observers of the data we generate as humans – our steps, fitness, heart rate, calories consumed.

Maybe we’re becoming uncomfortable with how we, too, in our daily habits, have embraced the romance of hyperoptimization. Look at the scene on any city street: Employees listening to podcasts at 1.5X speed while racing to work, wearing Apple Watches to ensure they’re hitting 10,000 daily steps, peeking at work email under the dinner table. We’ve become like the coders themselves, torquing every gear in our lives to remove friction. Like any good engineer, we can make the machines of our lives run awfully fast, though it’s not clear we’re happy with where we’re going.

The question is how to do it without removing the very human elements that make marketing so wonderful. For many geeks I know, this in fact is the goal:

Christopher Thorpe, a veteran of more than a half-dozen tech firms, told me about “an incredibly talented engineer” he once worked with who fit that bill. “He was very upset with me that we told jokes in all our meetings, because we were wasting time. ‘Why are we spending five minutes having fun with 20 people in the office? This is work time.’ Everybody is laughing—but, you know, you’re wasting all this valuable time.” The joke had frittered the time of 20 people! This guy would begin rattling off the math: “Five minutes times 20, that’s like, you know, you’ve wasted an hour and a half of person-time on these jokes.”

But what if we focused more as marketers on the inputs that generate the outputs? What if we focused on taking the friction out of marketing?

Either way, Coders is a great read.

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Marketing is a Science

Great reads going back 50 years on Marketing as a science. Well worth reading through and keeping on hand as a resource. Wonder how much time Marketers dedicate to reading research and educational material vs., well, won’t name and shame… This one from Scott Armstrong also worth a read. And Les & Peter’s greatest hits.

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That Cheese Crater Thing

Another brilliant piece from Ikea:

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Staggering Airline CX

It is just staggering to me how many airline execs I talk to will talk all the good talk on customer experience online but don’t seem to have ever intensively used their own sites.

If any Exec at Emirates or Qatar would like to chat, give me a call and I’ll step you through the break-points.

Here are a few highlights from my over two hours trying to book flights on online with both these airlines:

  1. No flagging of where flights are unavailable in classes – results in endless loops looking for flights
  2. Broken forms for payment with no elegant failure – couldn’t actually book online with Emirates
  3. Forms that aren’t persistent – constant refilling where 2) happens
  4. Live chat that doesn’t work and constantly adds more wait time
  5. No synchronization of web screen with call center
  6. Time to failed booking across both sites >50 minutes. Then 25 minutes booking via call center.
  7. No price book or reference sync between the online and call center quote. Customers are not interested in the call centre is different to online nonsense. Especially when it is on your site and your call center. This is the post digital era and we are done with the demarcation lines. And when your site simply does not work, its rich to try and charge for a call centre booking.

These sites were built for another error and typical of most bloated, poorly designed Airline sites. Some tips:

  1. Information must relate to the intent for which it was requested. Surfacing mindless results unrelated to the intent generate frustration and abandonment. Help the customer on their journey, not your journey.
  2. Fail in real-time, inline and suggest the correction. Mindless reloading of forms and data should not be an event on any modern site. One of these sites had two credit card submission zones on top of each other – each requesting entirely different information in the address bar – which didn’t seem to work at all.
  3. Indications should always be true. If you say 32 seconds to chat. Don’t reload it at the end of 30 seconds to be 95 seconds. What….?
  4. Lead with identity. Capture what you need to complete as soon and as fast as you can and avoid cart failure at the end of the customer journey.

There is so much more. I ran a quick audit of the purchase experience across these sites and identified around 30+ common fails.

Staggering.

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What We Read Isn’t What’s Happening

What the data tells us: