TMW #028 | Special announcement! Single view of customer, big tech’s interest in newsletters and the funnel fallacy.

Feb 14, 2021

Welcome to The Martech Weekly, where every week I review some of the most interesting ideas, research, and latest news. I try to look to where the industry is going and make sense of it all.

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📦 Something New

Now before we get into things, I do have a special announcement - I’m launching Making Sense of Martech (BETA) a podcast that will expand on the most popular and interesting content of this newsletter.

Many of you have kindly asked me to go deeper into the most important stories covered in TMW, and I’ve been very lucky to have some great conversations with the people I feature, so it feels like a natural next step here. It’s still in BETA (not perfect, but good enough to ship) and you’ll have to bear with me as I improve the audio quality, but the first conversation is a real treat!

In this first ever episode of MSoM I'm joined by Dr. Augustine Fou a marketer of 25 years and a world class expert in advertising fraud. His article in Forbes - 4P’s are dead was the most clicked article in TMW #026. Augustine and I talk about the 4Ps, alternatives, contributing to public discourse as a marketer, the current state of programmatic advertising and “the missing links framework”.

Podcast links, show notes, resources here: Link

P.S. I’m looking for honest and unfiltered feedback if you have any. A single line in an email reply would mean the world to me! Also - you can suggest / ask for guests to be interviewed as well, reply to this email, I’m all ears 👂.

👇 Here’s everything you’ve missed in marketing and tech this week.

✍ Commentary

🤔 Single customer view, do you really want it? Building a single customer view is a little like getting rich, you expend a lot of effort and energy just to realise that it’s not the answer. But what really is a single customer view? It’s a term that’s thrown about in pitch decks, board level conversations and SaaS landing pages, some call it SVoC, some call it a 360 view and some call it “unattainable.” The commonality between these names is this first principle- brands are working towards understanding their customer more than ever and an extension of that is making data available, intelligible and usable across the many functions of a business. Data is the oil of the revenue machine, and to make the machine work, figuring out the data problem is imperative to unlocking value. This is where the concept of a single customer view came from. Research from Forrester at the end of 2020 (see TMW #015) suggested that the most valuable capabilities was to create a single view of the customer. When people say “single view” I don’t think they mean a dashboard where you can literally pull up every single data point on a customer.

I’ve been in pitches before where SaaS companies will highlight a feature similar to this as a core part of the product - just type in an email address and bam, you get a single view of everything you collect on a customer. But what’s the use in that? Is there anything valuable to having those capabilities? I’d say not really. What sets brands apart is the ability to give teams the data they need with as minimal friction as possible. Data should be contextualised to its purpose. I call this contextual activation, because it sits more nicely with me and it sounds kinda cool. The idea is to move away from a single view of customer to creating data infrastructures that are accessible to the right people. This includes the aggregation of a customer’s data points into single identities and the dissemination of this data to the right person and the right use case in a way that doesn’t take a new API architecture between two siloed systems, nor a request to IT that takes 500 days to complete. The brands that help their data architectures get out of the way are the ones that can fast forward to better experiences for the customer, so maybe we don’t need a single view of the customer - we need a single vision for acting on our customers’ needs. Link

🗻 The fallacy of the marketing funnel. An interesting article came out this week by James Hankins at Marketing week pushing forward the idea that some of the marketing concepts that were around before the internet are becoming seriously dated, like the marketing funnel. If you’ve worked in an agency before, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen a funnel or a customer journey map -  at least I have. But are these concepts the right way to educate the industry on how to conceptualise the various steps in a customer experience? At the end of the day, these diagrams are things that are caught and taught, adopted and become the basis for strategy, design and execution. So yes, talking about the validity of the marketing funnel concept is important. Hankins argues that for some exercises a funnel is important and I’d agree, there’s no escaping that a checkout process looks like a funnel from a data perspective. But Google’s 92 page report on tracking customer paths to purchase suggests that there’s a real messy middle to most journeys which is extremely hard to discern in an aggregated way. This is because customers are irrational creatures that mostly act on impulse when it comes to purchasing, making their interactions highly unpredictable. I almost bought a $66 dollar T shirt this week, because it had a screencap of the 2004 version of iTunes on the front. Like I said, people are irrational and do irrational things.

The “Hankins Hexagon” is one solution put forward to replace the reductionistic simplicity of the marketing funnel, but also puts some sense and logic into the “messy middle” reality of a customer’s path to purchase. The framework uses nodes to connect broad steps in a non-linear fashion, which is smart because it conceptualises the important decision points in a customer journey, but then tries to contextualise these decision points with each other. You can then use it to determine the most to least likely pathways between those nodes and plan accordingly. There are some other emerging alternatives to the classic funnel, like a Wardley map, which are trying to gain mindshare in how marketers, product managers and UXers conceptualise their customer’s experiences. We’re in a funny stage of the internet where things have matured while new channels are invented every day, and so it’s good to see some people relegate the F word back to it’s culinary roots and try something new to understand their customers. Link

📈Chart Of The Week  

The CDP golden age - why are brands adopting this tech? Sign up here to get a link to the full version and the chart. You won't be disappointed.

📰 Latest Developments

McDonalds and Burger King have announced loyalty programs. This is quite interesting. Mostly because these brands are really just getting started on a digital front. A loyalty program fits nicely with the value proposition of both brands - get discounts and recommended items based on what you purchase. One day I will tell my kids about the time I bought a cheeseburger without having to hand my email address over. Link

CTRL + C, CTRL + V: Facebook is building a Clubhouse clone. A lot of jokes about this one, including fake PD for a chief innovation officer, with requirements like “able to use the copy and paste commands in product workflows.” The most interesting thing about this announcement is Facebook’s leverage over groups. A voice only chat product integrates very nicely with the existing dynamics in the Facebook family of apps. Link

📚 Reading

Microsoft's view of the news media bargaining code. An interesting piece that was published on the Microsoft blog makes an argument for paying publishers for displaying their links on social and search platforms. This was also catalysed by the US stating that the Australian bargaining code violates the terms of the free trade agreement. Also, as a few people have pointed out, some of the research to support Microsoft’s claims are quite misleading. Such as one study claiming Google generates $4.7 billion in revenue annually from news media. It doesn’t. Link

What is market validation? Let’s say you’re building a product in a startup or working like one in a larger organisation. How do you go about validating that the product is what people want? Is there a best practice for such things? Well if it wasn’t for product market validation, this newsletter probably wouldn’t exist. Link

Getting people to buy into your product vision. A great read on the soft skills product managers need to advance their vision of the product portfolio, what it takes to get buy in, investment and adoption. Link

🔢 Data & Insights

Gartner report on CMO spend. This is from 2020 but a colleague reminded me of it. CMOs are investing heavily into brand marketing going into 2021. In 2019 it was at the bottom of the list, now it’s at the top. Link

Okta business at work report Some interesting insights into the state of data security, what apps companies are using daily and how the work from revolution have changed the behaviours of workers.Link

Wunderman Thompson’s Future 100. One of the most beautiful reports I’ve seen in a while, WT looks at 100 key trends that are likely to shape customer experience effort in 2021. Link

💡 Ideas

The future of VC firms. It’s very likely that venture capitalist firms will become tech companies who monetise through investments. Adoption of tech products to assess candidates are becoming very popular. Bring on the VenTech. Link

Could we do away with targeted advertising? Thought provoking and informed essay on why the internet could be far better for everyone without targeted programmatic advertising. I don’t agree with all of the perspectives here, but it’s a helpful thought experiment. Link

A newsfeed but for podcasts. Podcast discovery is hard for people, this app tries to make it easier. Link

Mitigating the risks in analytics implementations. Implementing new analytics tools are fraught with danger. This guide makes it easier to protect your data when switching platforms. Link

✨ Weird and Wonderful

What happens to your online returns? Some go to the incinerator, but a lot of returns that can’t be sold again go to new companies that are creating marketplaces of their own. Link

Disrupting a vaccine appointment system. One New Yorker was frustrated with the lackluster experience of booking a vaccine appointment. So he built his own app, aggregating many of the appointment sites into one. He did it in 5 hours. Link

Stay Curious,

Make sense of marketing technology.

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Juan Mendoza

Juan Mendoza is an expert in researching global media, marketing, data, and technology trends. He is the CEO of The Martech Weekly, a media and research brand with subscribers in over 65 countries.

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