Mar 222007

Favorite NEMOA quote, Day #1

My favorite quote from the first day of the NEMOA show was the following snippet from Kevin Hillstrom, formerly of Nordstrom.

We were discussing how the flood of analytics generated by modern direct marketing systems can actually lead to less insight. Unlike the old days when marketers had infrequent contact with customers -- a quarterly catalog mailing, perhaps -- today's frequent, overlapping, and highly tracked marketing messages makes it tough to determine which contact/message/channel caused the order.

And so some (really good) direct marketers are opting for a broader, more holistic, and (shocking!) less quant approach.

Here's the quote:

[At Nordstrom], we've had a change of focus away from direct measurement.

On the panel, this generated an approving nod from Crate and Barrel's John Seebeck, a disapproving nod from Bean's Nancy Fischman -- and murmurs from the large audience of catalogers in the room.

Kevin has much more detailed notes from the session on his blog.

Any other catalogers having a similar "change of focus away from direct measurement" care to comment?

It was fun participating, and an honor to share the podium with such smart marketers.


3 Responses to "Favorite NEMOA quote, Day #1"
Jim Novo says:
The idea of moving away from direct measurement sounds absolutely nuts to me, unless I'm not following the context. The industry that invented Marketing accountability is moving away from it just as everybody else is starting to embrace it? If what Kevin really means by "moving away" is spending less money and time on the unbelievable navel gazing that goes on with "matchback" than I'm all for that...
Some of both, but more the later than the former. The context was looking at customer or a season holistically -- eg not running a catalog P&L and also a web P&L, but rather running the direct biz with a single DirectBiz P&L perspective. And not over "navel gazing" (as you aptly put) on precise match back. Nancy from Bean talked about print and catalog as traffic drivers to web, even when exact said tracking for that premise might not be 100% solid. The quote was about not missing the forest for the trees -- here 'the trees' being, say, book-level response rates, whereas 'the forest' is the overall direct biz.
Alan states the context of the comment correctly. The multichannel marketing industry has too many metrics that all claim a portion of a customer's purchase. The online marketing folks take credit for an order because the customer used paid search on Google. The catalog marketing folks take credit for an order because the customer used a catalog source code in the Quick Order box. The e-mail marketing folks take credit for an order because the customer clicked through the e-mail and purchased within twelve hours. The database marketing executive must tell a story that accurately reflects what the intent of the customer was. If the customer wants to use three catalogs, six e-mail campaigns, and two paid searches on Google to place an order, it is the job of the database marketing executive to explain this in everyday language --- and provide an accurate view of total ROI. Instead, we all dig into all of the metrics we have available to us --- we all over-use the metrics without the context of surrounding advertising channels --- and we all sound like geeky twits to the Executives running the company. We really need to step back, and tell a compelling story about the data. I found that mail/no-mail tests do this best among housefile names, and quarterly matchback analyses do this best among recently acquired names. And while it is still important to analyze individual catalog drop performance, it is even more important to tell a compelling ROI story for the total direct business, across a three, six or twelve month period of time. I especially found annual reviews to be compelling --- here is the ROI of each advertising channel, on an annual basis, and here is how the total dollars should be reallocated for the upcoming year. This keeps the discussion at a strategic level, and keeps it one that CEOs and Executives are willing to pay attention to.

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