At our recent MarTech Conference session, “It takes two to tango: How marketers and data analysts can excel together,” Arti Munshi and I talked about some high-level concepts marketers can understand to help them work efficiently with data analysts. A key part of this is understanding data’s limitations. One of those limitations is a martech stack’s evolution.
Different types of evolution can hinder what a data analyst can do with data collected over time. Here are a few examples.
It is not unheard of for a company to change analytics platforms within its stack. There are numerous options for each type of component and plenty of reasons why a company may change which components they use.
A common example is a web analytics platform. Two major players in this space are Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics. If your company swapped one out for the other, this could limit your company’s historical web data. Granted, your company may have stored data from both systems in a data lake, but that doesn’t mean the platforms gathered and organized the data similarly. This makes things difficult for an analyst to account for. If a marketer can understand this history, they can incorporate this evolution into their requests and expectations.
Marketing departments don’t stand alone. They exist to promote a broader organization. The broader organization can also present issues that affect data collection.
For instance, a company may not have a data lake where data from systems throughout the organization are stored. Having data all in one place can make it easier to bring other data in for a broader perspective. For instance, leads, conversions and opportunities are not the only pieces of the puzzle. Customer happiness, touchpoints with customer service representatives and so on are all part of the bigger picture.
More robust and complete findings are possible if analysts can look beyond a customer’s interaction with marketing campaigns. However, that depends upon how easy it is to pull all that data together in the first place.
It is no secret that privacy regulations have evolved. In the past, it was permissible here in the United States for web browsers to collect a lot of information about website visitors. There was a lot more allowance for sharing or selling that information to other parties — especially with third-party data. Because of this analysts could provide richer and more robust information. Federal and state regulations have clamped down on collecting that data, so this is no longer the case.
Further, privacy regulations also vary throughout the world. The European Union is well known for protecting the privacy of its citizens — far more so than other governmental entities. This shouldn’t surprise any marketer, but analysts are more constrained with EU data when compared to the U.S.
Tech companies certainly have to comply with regulations. However, sometimes they adhere to more stringent standards than what they’re governed by. For instance Apple has restricted the data companies can collect about its device users. It turned that privacy focus into an extensive marketing campaign. Regardless of how much the perception matches reality, marketers need to note that it is possible analysts won’t have the same data for Apple and Android users.
Sticking with devices, this point is a well-known limitation. Most people use multiple devices ranging from laptops, phones and consoles. It is not uncommon for someone to have multiple of each. For instance, they do a few benign personal things (like checking the news) on their work laptop and do that again later on a personal laptop and phone. Ideally, it would be nice to stitch that individual across their devices so the data would represent them as one person instead of multiple people using different devices.
One way to do that is to collect first-party data and look for individuals using multiple devices. Perhaps they have an account and log into your systems from multiple devices. That is certainly one way to accomplish such stitching. However, an organization may not always have accounts for people to log into. In some instances, that may not make sense for someone to open an account with an organization’s systems.
If your organization was able to introduce accounts for people to create and use, please keep in mind that looking back to times when that wasn’t available or widely used will hinder analysts’ ability to track people across devices over time.
Limitations, not impossibilities
As marketers, it is essential to understand such data limitations. Understanding them will help facilitate working with data analysts. Having said all of this, these are limitations — not impossibilities. This is when data analysts can shine. They’re well aware of the limitations, but as data specialists, they likely have far more tricks up their sleeves than a marketer is aware of. Hopefully, coming to the table with a high understanding of the terrain will facilitate some creative collaboration.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Steve Petersen is a marketing technology manager at Zuora. He spent nearly 8.5 years at Western Governors University, holding many martech related roles with the last being marketing technology manager. Prior to WGU, he worked as a strategist at the Washington, DC digital shop The Brick Factory, where he worked closely with trade associations, non-profits, major brands, and advocacy campaigns. Petersen holds a Master of Information Management from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brigham Young University. He’s also a Certified ScrumMaster. Petersen lives in the Salt Lake City, UT area.
Petersen represents his own views, not those of his current or former employers.
The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
A happy and lucky St. Patrick’s day to all my readers! I’ve seen it again and again that small and local businesses became successful due to a great inspiration and some little happenstance bit of luck that got them noticed. Today, I’d like to celebrate with you by offering a shamrock of three ideas I’ve seen taking off in my mother country of Ireland. You may not replicate the exact business model, but do take away the underlying concepts which I strongly believe could succeed in the US. I’ll also point out how you can help luck along with a little creative marketing. Share this article with your team for brainstorming new campaigns, or with anyone in your life who wishes they could start a small business
Finding the “grá”
Ever wondered how to say “I love you” in Irish? One way is “tá grá agam duit” (taw graw ah-gum duts/ditch). It’s not uncommon to hear Irish folk saying they have a “grá” for something when speaking English, and to me, the word not only conveys love but a kind of longing. When people have a “grá”for some really good bread, or a trip to the seaside, or a warm coat they saw in a shop window, it’s what we might call “consumer demand” in American marketing lingo. Pay attention right now, and you may be starting to notice people in the US and elsewhere expressing a special kind of “grá“ for a different life. Recently, such a thread stood out to me on Twitter, started by author and founder Dave Gerhardt.
Software, of course, isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and the more we see of the current state of AI chat, the less many analysts are convinced that it’s going to be a major disruptor at present, but what I observe in this tweet and the replies to it is that people are starting to get tired of the one-dimensional confines of too much screen time. Wanting a satisfying local life and community “IRL” is a great “grá“ statement. Americans are deeply attached to our tech, but more and more, I’m running across peers talking about having an “analog life”, wishing their kids would become “luddites”, or wondering how an off-grid life would feel for their families. More simply put, many people would like to experience more satisfaction in what is right around them.
This dynamic is, in fact, tailor-made for small business entrepreneurs, so let’s look at these three aspirational concepts to see if you or your clients have got a “grá” tugging at you for any of them.
1. Be about life
Within living memory, it was the mark of respectability to have your little weedless patch of green lawn. You constantly cut the grass to keep it under tight control. You yanked out every dandelion – or worse – poisoned your own nest with herbicides. Think things never change for the better? I hear you, but check out TheIrishGardener because now, instead of rolling out bundles of monocrop sod, the Irish are carpeting the outdoors with native wildflower matts. One dimension isn’t enough anymore – folk want flowers and bees and moths and butterflies and bugs and more of everything alive. Yard by yard, they are reinvigorating essential ecosystems. Clever wildflower seed sellers are now marketing their products like seed matts and seed bombs not just to homeowners but as wedding favors, holiday gifts, classroom projects, and more.
There’s been such a base trend in US marketing in which we try to sell things to our neighbors by scaring them. Our ads are full of guns, screaming, threats, panic, anxiety, and danger and it’s very weird contrasting this with the ads I listen to on Irish media which seem to be largely focused on green energy, eating nice things, and enjoying the arts.
Could your great small business reject fear-and-shock-based marketing and instead hinge on beauty and satisfaction in life? We do have that old adage of drawing more flies with honey than vinegar, and if you can align your business with the very strong yearning for life to be abundant, varied, diverse, interesting, healthy, and fun, I think you’re moving away from the old lifeless lawns to the new thriving garden.
2. Be about locality
There’s only one place you can get real Irish seaweed – from the coasts of the country, of course! WildIrishSeaWeeds.com is one of those rare businesses that has seen the potential in a gift of nature that many might pass by without noticing. Seaweed is practically a miracle – you can eat it, bathe in it, and use it as a very carbon-friendly fertilizer that elders have always sworn by. What was once mainly a snack remembered fondly by children is now becoming a serious green industry in Ireland, and not far from where I live, I see a Californian company testing whether they can latch onto a similar demand in the US.
What is overlooked where you live? Is it something that can only be gotten in your local area? Something people used to love but are forgetting about now? Maybe it’s a local food source that’s starting to disappear because no one is using it anymore, or maybe its a skilled craft like basketmaking in a local style, baking or brewing a regional speciality, knitting or sewing a heritage garment, compounding an old-time remedy. Maybe it’s reviving a tradition that used to anchor your community. Could your great small business idea simply be about reconnecting neighbors with what’s special about where you live…a place that may have started to have vanished in our collective consciousness because the screens are blocking the view?
3. Be about people’s simplest pleasures
Our SEO lives may be consumed with ChatGPT right now, or GA4, or what will happen next on or to Twitter, but Padraic Óg Gallagher is up on the balcony of his restaurant, growing real Irish potatoes for his Boxty House in Dublin. If you’ve never had the luck to eat boxty, it’s a delicious potato cake, beloved enough in Ireland to be the inspiration behind a restaurant that’s seen such success, it was able to open a second location. Boxty is not fancy. It’s something your mother would make you from leftovers, something treasured from childhood, the memory of which warms your very soul.
If we look again at Dave Gerhardt’s Twitter thread, he’s not longing for a yacht, nor a manion, nor a pot of gold. He just wants the simple pleasure you get from “building in your community.” Most of us can be plenty happy with just enough, and rather than creating a business idea around elite luxury, consider what you might offer that actually delivers human contentment to the most people. A basic kitchen good that isn’t made well any more? A handcrafted walking stick? A cozy bookshop, a guided tour for visitors, your grandmother’s pecan pie, a wooden toy, a cloth doll, a sturdy garden implement, a bayberry candle, a regional herbal tea?
The simpler and better quality your idea, the more of a welcome change it could be for customers increasingly expressing fatigue from low-quality, mass-produced, and very limited options. America’s Vermont Country Store has been outstandingly successful in helping people relocate fundamental merchandise they can’t find anymore. Study their approach.
Creative marketing of your small business idea
What can you do to catch the eye of your audience? You’ve probably guessed that I’m going to say that, no matter how small your local business, you’ve got to have a website and local business listings. 30 years ago, I would have said this about the telephone book, and however much we may long for more off-screen time, we’ve got to concede that the web makes it so easy to be found! So yes, publishthe best website you can budget for, build out your Google Business Profile and other listings, and invest all you can in learning about digital reputation management. It will help you achieve your goals.
That being said, the room there is beyond the web for creative marketing could fill all the pages of the Book of Kells. If you’re starting out quite small, try these low-tech approaches to getting the word out about your new business idea in your community:
Put a sign outside your house or in the window of your apartment. No room? Ask local officials for permission to put a sign in a vacant lot or on a street corner where you’ve seen other signage posted. Be ready to sell them on how your idea benefits the community.
Research local regulations regarding hanging fliers around town.
Research whether there is an opportunity for you to be included in existing print catalogs. 90 million Americans purchase something from a catalog annually, and even as the Internet has become so established in our lives, catalog shopping has continued to trend upwards.
Found or join a local business organization for brainstorming, networking and cross-selling.
Coordinate with other micro-business entrepreneurs to host a shared party in a local park, acquainting your community with your presence and offerings.
Sponsor local teams, events, and people and be cited for it both on and offline.
If your community still has a local radio station, try to get on it, either with an ad or as a guest, to reach 82.5% of US adults.
If you live in an area favored by tourists, contact the local visitors’ center to see how to get listed in their publications.
Advertise in the mailers and bulletins of local houses of worship and schools.
If what you produce relates to any type of food, music, art, cultural, or local festival, participate in it.
I’m closing today with this famous Irish proverb, because it seems right for this moment in America, where the myth of endless growth and the dangers of an unchecked appetite for luxury have done no favors to the economy or environment our whole people must live in. The Irish phrase, “Cé gur beag díol, caithfidh sé a sholáthar,” has traditionally been used to remind us that even the small wren has to work hard to provide for itself – a scenario every small business owner and local business marketer will easily relate to.
But I’m starting to see a double-meaning in this phrase, and new business trends in Ireland are helping me to see it: a more sustainable way to found a venture may be in asking not how much you want, but how little you actually need to be satisfied. SEOs everywhere already know it’s a best practice to get clients to define what success looks like before a project begins so that all parties can see when a goal has been attained. For most small business owners not seeking to become big business owners, achievement will simply mean something along the lines of being able to pay themselves and their staff enough to have a modest, good life. To me, this recognition matters right now, because most customers are in search of the same thing – having just enough.
Although often underrated or reduced to a “networking platform,” LinkedIn has the potential to help you drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, and boost your revenue. How? Through LinkedIn sponsored updates or ads.
Salesforce has announced an integration between Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Google Merchant Center to help merchants highlight the availability of products in stores. The move builds on Salesforce data that suggests both the widespread use of online search in advance of brick and mortar store visits, and an increased likelihood of shopping trips when consumers can see that a store has an item in stock.
Using this new integration, merchants using Commerce Cloud will be able to turn local inventory data into local product listings on Google Search and Google Maps and in the Shopping tab.
Why we care. The distinction between digital and real-world commerce continues to collapse. Those online shopping behaviors that exploded during the pandemic will be with us for the foreseeable future, but it doesn’t mean store visits are a thing of the past.
Rather, consumers are looking for seamless connections between an online product discovery experience and in-person purchases. This integration seeks to support that aim at a granular local level.
The Salesforce data that supports the move can be found here.
Embedding commerce in discovery. The integration also braids together online discovery and the commerce experience. Just as many merchants now seek to provide a frictionless transition from finding a product online to making a digital purchase, this sees the opportunity to link discovery with in-person shopping.
This move pairs with the recent announcement of Salesforce’s Einstein GPT for Commerce that combines proprietary and generative AI models with real-time data such as customer demographic data and shopping history, to automate and tailor shopper recommendations in Commerce Cloud.
Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.
He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.
Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.