How can businesses use data to streamline their marketing efforts? What are the main challenges and potential benefits they face in doing this? How do retailers make the most out of Amazon — dubbed “Frenemy Number 1” — to navigate both the threat, but also the opportunities, that it brings?
Senior marketers from a broad range of industries gathered together on the top floor of London’s notorious The Gherkin to explore these issues together.
Tim Flagg, ClickZ podcast host and marketing expert, opened the briefing by running through some of the main findings from our recent research report, Data Wars: A deep dive into the transformation of digital retail.
Key findings from the research
Our report surveyed 235 senior global brand-side marketers in order to understand how they use customer data to drive their marketing ROI. The market is huge — with online retail sales in 2018 totaling $517 billion in the US and $125 billion in the UK.
However, our findings also highlighted the enormous impact of Amazon, which accounts for an astounding 49% of all online retail sales. Such is their influence (be it through Amazon Marketplace, Amazon Advertising. or Amazon Marketing Services) that all retailers need to have a solid process in place when dealing with the ecommerce giant.
In order to do this, and to master their online marketing strategy more generally, businesses need to use their customer data effectively. But this is old news, right?
Unfortunately, our report found that only 10% of marketers believe they’re using their customer data effectively — and 42% believe that the biggest challenge for ecommerce businesses lies in creating genuine business impact from this data.
Organizations sometimes don’t know where to start, what to focus on (among the wealth of data out there), or they have trouble manually stitching together customer journeys. It’s becoming increasingly clear that only by effectively using AI can marketers start to standardize all their siloed data and make it work for them.
Tim asked the audience to take part in a quick poll by raising their hands if their company was currently using, or thinking of using, an attribution platform. Roughly 10% of the respondents stated that they were — indicating that many organizations still lack the technological capability to truly make the most out of their data.
Fospha’s CEO on measurement and attribution — difficulties and recommendations
The microphone was then passed to Sam Carter, CEO of marketing attribution technology provider Fospha. Sam spoke about the data troubles that businesses have had in recent years. For every one step forward in their digital transformation efforts, business are often struck with another massive technological disruption or development that only served to further muddy the waters.
Marketers are well aware: measurement and attribution is hard. The customer journey has become increasingly complex and any relevant data is often siloed or overly complex. Despite this, and negative press arising from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, there’s still plenty of hope and opportunity yet for data-driven businesses.
Sam cited recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) recommendations for marketers: have connected data, automated and integrated technology, and actionable measurement. These elements transform highly complex and disparate sets of datapoints into insightful, understandable customer journeys.
You might be thinking, “Sure, this sounds easy in principal, what about in reality?” Sam stressed that one of Fospha’s principal mantras, taken from a Forrester report, is to “start small and grow.” You don’t need to do everything all at once. Instead, choose a task you can complete in 90 days and go from there, always keeping an overall end goal in the back of your mind.
Kenshoo’s VP of Ecommerce on Amazon — industry statistics and strategy
Meghan Harbold, Kenshoo VP of Ecommerce, was the next to speak. Kenshoo has been particularly focused on enabling businesses to make the most out of Amazon and to see the wealth of opportunities that it brings to all online retailers.
She started by talking about a parable of the blind men and an elephant. They all believed the elephant was something different — a wall, a fan, a snake or a spear — depending on what part of it they were touching.
Businesses face a common conundrum with Amazon. Is it a marketplace, an advertising opportunity, or a marketing service? Well, it can be all three. The trick lies in working out which of these areas will best serve your company, and figuring out a strategy to make the most out of it. Highly-planned and well-executed operations are the keys to building a scaled business on Amazon.
Meghan revealed some astonishing statistics about Amazon:
- Amazon’s conversion rate is 25% (compared to 2% on Google).
- 92% of shoppers who search products on Amazon will then go on to buy from Amazon.
- Nine of out 10 of all online shoppers touch Amazon in some way, shape or form — be it through an ad, sponsored product, or the website itself.
This means that retailers, whether they like it or not, absolutely have to participate in Amazon’s network — there’s no escaping it.
Questions from the audience: Access to Amazon data, getting C-suite buy-in
The floor was then opened up to the audience. Sam and Meghan were asked a range of great questions, including whether or not non-Amazon users could still gain insights from their data (a tricky question given their reluctance to even share data with their own users!), and how you can get senior stakeholders’ buy-in regarding digital transformation (hint: sometimes they like hearing about these issues from someone new, like an independent consultant).
Final pieces of advice
Here are two final pieces of standout advice from our speakers on beginning your journey to digital transformation:
There’s always enough data to get started.
Meghan reiterated that in this day and age there’s always a huge amount of data available to businesses. Don’t delay, don’t hold back – just get started.
You need to diminish the unknown.
According to Sam, big tech platforms like Amazon, Google and Facebook act like the guardians of your data. This, combined with complicated customer journeys, means there’s often a lot about your customers that you’re not aware of. The key to successful data-driven marketing lies in reducing the unknown as much as possible.
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